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Davis v. State

Supreme Court of Florida

December 19, 2019



          Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court of Appeal - Certified Great Public Importance Fifth District - Case Nos. 5D17-745 (Orange County)

          James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Steven N. Gosney, Assistant Public Defender, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Daytona Beach, Florida, for Petitioner

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, and Wesley Heidt, Bureau Chief, and Kristen L. Davenport, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, Florida, for Respondent

          LAWSON, J.

         This case is before the Court for review of the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Davis v. State, 253 So.3d 1234 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018). In its decision the district court certified a question of great public importance, which we rephrase as follows:

How should "arrest" be defined for purposes of starting the speedy trial period set forth in Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191, Florida's procedural "speedy trial rule"?

         We have jurisdiction, see art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const., and approve the Fifth District's decision. We determine that "arrest" in the speedy trial context should mean formal arrest, which is the only type of detention by law enforcement that implicates the Sixth Amendment speedy trial right. See United States v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307, 320 (1971).[1] Using formal arrest to start the procedural speedy trial period would best match our procedural rule to the substantive right that the rule is designed to protect. However, because this is arguably not how our current rule is written, we refer this issue to the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee of the Florida Bar, requesting that the Committee propose a rule amendment to effect this change. In the meantime, we adhere to Griffin v. State, 474 So.2d 777, 779 (Fla. 1985), which adopted the "arrest" definition from Melton v. State, 75 So.2d 291 (Fla. 1954), for purposes of determining when the speedy trial period begins under our current rule. Because the Fifth District properly applied the Melton test, we approve the decision below.


         As explained by Judge Edwards in the decision below:

On May 29, 2014, sheriff's deputies responded to a robbery and shooting at [a business in Orange County, Florida]. Video surveillance was used to identify the getaway vehicle involved in the robbery; it was later found outside a house. Using a loudspeaker, deputies ordered the occupants out of the house. When nobody responded to that command, the S.W.A.T. team was deployed to the scene. The stand-off ended approximately ninety minutes later, when [Jahquell Davis], four other males, and two females exited the house. The males were instructed to stand along the curb near the house while a show-up was conducted, during which one victim recognized one of the men-not [Davis]-as the driver of the getaway vehicle.
Deputies believed that it would be impractical to interview the five males at the house because it was in a high crime area, the S.W.A.T. team and news media surrounded the area, and the detective handling the investigation had multiple people to interview. Accordingly, the males were handcuffed, placed into individual squad cars, transported to the sheriff's department, and placed in separate rooms in a secured area of the building, where their handcuffs were removed. After being read their Miranda rights, they were sequentially interviewed by the same detective. All the males were eventually swabbed for gunshot residue and DNA.
The detective, who referred to [Davis's] status as "investigative detention," began his interview of [Davis] by apologizing for the delay in getting to him. [Davis] testified at his evidentiary hearing that he agreed to speak to the detective and consented to the gunshot residue and DNA testing because he wanted to help and also wanted to clear his name. During this time, [Davis] was not informed he was free to leave. Indeed, outside the door of his interview room was a uniformed deputy who would not have permitted him to leave. During the approximately four to six hours that [Davis] was at the sheriff's department, he was never told he was under arrest, that he was suspected of committing the robbery, or that he was charged with any crime.
The detective ended his interview of [Davis] by advising him that he was not under arrest and that he was free to leave. The detective offered [Davis] transportation, which [Davis] declined. At the time [Davis] was released, there was no information connecting him to the robbery or shooting ...

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