FL5: Car search was justified by search incident; automobile exception finding not even appealed

Defendant’s traffic stop was justified for stopping in the crosswalk before turning on red. The search of the car was found by the trial court with probable cause and justified by the search incident doctrine and the automobile exception. Defendant only challenges search incident on appeal, and it was justified by search incident because of the probable cause. Defendant abandoned the automobile exception argument. Affirmed without prejudice to a post-conviction petition. Jones v. State, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 14244 (Fla. 5th DCA Sept. 20, 2019).*

Note: This seems like a waste of time to tell the defendant to file an IAC claim. First, if there was probable cause for search incident, there certainly should be for the automobile exception. Second, in many jurisdictions, if the trial court finds two justifications for something, such as a search, and the defendant appeals challenging only one, that’s effectively a waiver of appellate review because it leaves the other ground intact and sufficient to support the trial court’s judgment. And, even if he could get to that IAC issue, he can’t win, it’s not Strickland prejudice.

My state would so hold. Would Florida? Must not be. But see CJS Appeal and Error § 839:

The appellate court will not reverse a ruling of the trial court that rests on independent alternative grounds where the appellant challenges only one of those grounds. An appellant must challenge all independent bases or grounds that fully support a judgment or appealable order. Grounds that are not attacked as erroneous on appeal will not be considered and are presumed binding and correct; the failure to attack alternative bases for judgment results in affirmance.

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