Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and Jasmine Russell, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant. Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and David Welch, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and Jasmine Russell, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and David Welch, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Timothy Flowers appeals his judgment and sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, carrying a concealed firearm, and possession of cannabis. He entered a plea but reserved the right to appeal the order denying his motion to suppress evidence seized during a traffic stop. Flowers argues that the evidence should have been suppressed because officers unreasonably prolonged the traffic stop to conduct a dog sniff. We affirm.
Flowers was the passenger in a vehicle pulled over by Officer Josh Carswell for failure to come to a complete stop at a red light before making a right turn. The stop occurred at 10:15 p.m. While Officer Carswell was obtaining the information needed to write a citation, the K-9 unit arrived, and a dog alerted to the vehicle. The dog sniff was conducted within twelve minutes of the initial stop. During those twelve minutes, Officer Carswell learned that Flowers was a convicted felon. And a search of the vehicle revealed a pistol and marijuana. Before being Mirandized, Flowers spontaneously uttered "all that shit in there is mine." Flowers was arrested and taken into custody.
After his arrest, Flowers moved to suppress the evidence seized during the traffic stop. Flowers argued that Officer Carswell unreasonably prolonged the stop to conduct a dog sniff and had no reasonable articulable suspicion that would allow him to prolong the stop. The trial court denied the motion. The court found that the traffic stop was based on a valid traffic violation and that the twelve minutes that passed between the initial stop and the dog sniff was not unreasonable because Officer Carswell was engaged in tasks involved with writing the traffic citation. Flowers pleaded nolo contendere and the trial court sentenced him to three years in prison. This timely appeal follows.
When considering a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress, we apply a mixed standard of review. Scott v. State , 151 So. 3d 567, 573 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014). We will affirm a trial court's factual findings if they are supported by competent, substantial evidence. Id. We review a trial court's conclusions of law de novo. Id.
Flowers argues that his motion to suppress should have been granted because the officer unreasonably prolonged the traffic stop to conduct a dog sniff of the vehicle. We disagree.
A traffic stop may last no longer than necessary for an officer to address the traffic violation that warranted the stop. Cowart-Darling v. State , 256 So. 3d 250, 252 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018) (citing Rodriguez v. United States , 575 U.S. 348, 135 S. Ct. 1609, 1614, 191 L.Ed.2d 492 (2015) ). And an officer may not prolong a traffic stop to conduct a dog sniff absent reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Id. Instead, a traffic stop may continue for the time necessary for an officer to check drivers' licenses, search for outstanding warrants, and inspect registrations and proofs of insurance. Id. at 1615-16. In determining whether a traffic stop has been unreasonably delayed, the critical question is whether conducting the dog sniff prolongs the stop. See Wooden v. State , 244 So. 3d 1170, 1171 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018).
Here, the record shows that the initial stop occurred at 10:15 and was based on a valid traffic violation. After speaking with Flowers and the driver, Officer Carswell ran the license of the driver at 10:21 and ran Flowers' driver's license at 10:23. Officer Carswell received the driver's criminal history from dispatch at 10:23 and Flowers' criminal history at 10:27. The stop was still in progress when the dog sniff was conducted at 10:27. And Officer Carswell had not yet written the traffic citation. Because the stop was not prolonged by the dog sniff, the search was not unlawful. Presley v. State , 227 So. 3d 95, 107-08 (Fla. 2017). As a result, Flowers' motion to suppress was properly denied and his judgment and sentence are AFFIRMED.
Roberts and Bilbrey, JJ., concur.