APPEAL FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CR-2012-1434-1. HONORABLE ROBIN GREEN, JUDGE.
Norwood & Norwood, P.A., by: Doug Norwood and Alison Lee, for appellant.
Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Lauren Elizabeth Heil, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge. VAUGHT and BROWN, JJ., agree.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge
Jordan Schneider appeals the denial of his motion to suppress because, he argues, a discrepancy between his vehicle's color and the color indicated on the vehicle's registration did not provide reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop. The issue presented is a close one, but we affirm the circuit court's denial.
In October 2012, Schneider pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia in the Benton County District Court and appealed to the Benton County Circuit Court. Schneider then filed a motion to suppress, alleging that he was unlawfully stopped by the police. The court held a suppression hearing in November 2013, at which Officer Dustin Wiens of the Rogers Police Department testified on direct and cross-examination that on 24 November 2011, at approximately 1:00 a.m., he and another officer were sitting inside a patrol car at an intersection when Schneider's car passed by. Officer Wiens explained that, for no particular reason, they began following Schneider's vehicle and ran the vehicle license to check the year, make, model, and color of the car. The license-plate check indicated that the car was a blue 1992 Chevrolet Camaro. The officer recalled seeing a red car when it passed by him, and he noticed while following the car that it had a black bumper. He also testified that he never saw any blue on the car before he pulled Schneider over and had no opportunity " to pull up beside" Schneider's car to look at " the other side" before he made the stop. Officer Wiens told the court the stop was necessary to investigate whether the car was stolen but agreed that, but for the color discrepancy, he would not have stopped Schneider.
In closing arguments, the defense argued that the color discrepancy alone did not establish reasonable suspicion and cited Van Teamer v. State, 108 So.3d 664 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013), to support the argument. That case presented the same issue: whether an investigatory stop based solely on a color inconsistency between the vehicle and the car-registration information was reasonable. The Florida First District Court of Appeal held that a color discrepancy alone does not justify an investigatory stop.
The circuit court acknowledged this case law but stated, " I don't believe that's the state of the law in Arkansas." The court denied the motion to suppress. Schneider then entered a conditional plea of guilty to the charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia and appealed.
In reviewing the denial of a motion to suppress evidence, this court conducts a de novo review based on the totality of the circumstances, reviewing findings of historical facts for clear error and determining whether those facts give rise to reasonable suspicion or probable cause, giving due weight to inferences drawn by the circuit court. King v. State, 2014 Ark.App. 81, 432 S.W.3d 127. We defer to the circuit court's credibility and weight-of-the-evidence determinations and reverse only if ...