Carrying Concealed Firearm (St. Lucie County)

Facts: Our client was stopped for speeding and running a stop sign. He provided all necessary documents to the officer. Our client was also travelling with his 2 children and a dog in the backseat. So, when he was asked for consent to have his vehicle searched he said no. At that time there was a K9 officer on scene and our client, his wife, his children, and the dog were asked to get out of the vehicle for a free air sniff. The K9 alerted to the vehicle and the entire vehicle was searched. When asked, our client admitted that there was a firearm in the vehicle. The firearm was found wedged under the backseat and officers had to lift the seat to access the firearm. Our client was arrested for carrying a concealed firearm because he did not have a concealed weapon permit.

Results: As soon as I read the affidavit I had concerns about this stop. I did some extensive research regarding the length of the stop and the use of the K9. Additionally, the fact that the firearm was wedged so far under the seat that the officer had to lift the seat to access the firearm led me to believe it was not “readily accessible” as required under the case law. A motion to dismiss was filed, but traversed by the state. As soon as that was denied based on the state’s sworn filing that there were facts in issue I went to work on the motion to suppress the evidence found. A new case had just come out regarding the officer’s ability to ask someone out of their vehicle during a traffic stop. The motion was filed and on the morning of the hearing the state dismissed the charges against my client which prevented him from not only facing incarceration, but preventing him from becoming a convicted felon.