How Does the State Attorney Prove that I Knew My License Was Suspended?
This article is a continuation of an article from the Jacksonville criminal lawyers website. Please go to “Florida Law for Knowingly Driving on Suspended License” to read the preface to this article. In summary, when an assistant state attorney prosecutes a Jacksonville driving on a suspended or revoked license with knowledge case, he or she must fulfill what is referred to as the knowledge element. The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed a case in which the state failed to prove knowledge under Florida Statute Section 322.34.
The Florida appellate court explained that if the State could not prove the knowledge element, the criminal charge could not stand. “One who unknowingly drives with a suspended license is guilty of only a noncriminal moving violation, punishable pursuant to chapter 318. See § 322.34(1), Fla. Stat. Where the State fails to establish one drove with knowledge of a suspension, the trial court should enter a judgment of acquittal on the charge of driving with a suspended license under section 322.34(2).” Quest v. State, 837 So. 2d 1106, 1107 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2003) (citing Brown v. State, 764 So.2d 741 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000)). In Quest, the 4th DCA found that the state attorney did not prove the knowledge element. Because the state failed to prove knowledge, the defendant could not be convicted of knowingly driving on a suspended license. He could only be convicted of driving on a suspended license without knowledge, a civil Florida traffic ticket. The court reasoning was as follows:
“Here, the only evidence the State offered in its case-in-chief relating to Quest’s supposed ‘knowledge’ of his license suspension consisted of a certified copy of his driving record. Although this record, as interpreted by a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper, provided Quest’s license had been suspended a number of times between 1997 and 1998, it did not reflect Quest had been sent notice of the December 4, 2000, suspension at the time of the suspension. Although Quest admitted having received some correspondence in the past regarding his 1997-98 suspensions on cross, he provided he had moved within the past year and vehemently denied ever receiving notice of the December 2000 suspension. Since the State did not introduce any evidence that Quest received notice of his December 2000 suspension (much less that notice was even sent out), and Quest did not admit knowledge of the instant suspension, the conviction for driving with a suspended license under section 322.34(2) cannot stand. We reject the State’s contention that Quest should be imputed knowledge of the December 2000 suspension since he was cited for driving with a suspended license on two previous occasions: once in August of 1997 (convicted in January of 1998) and once in February of 1998 (convicted in April of 1998). These past two citations under section 322.34(1), for prior suspensions (which were subsequently reinstated), do not impute knowledge of the new December 2000 suspension. See § 322.34(2). Knowledge of the particular suspension at issue, whether by way of direct proof or one of the statutory presumptions, must be established in order to support a conviction for driving with a suspended license under section 322.34(2). Accordingly, Quest’s conviction for driving with a suspended license must be reversed.” Quest v. State, 837 So. 2d 1106, 1107 (2001) (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2003)
If I Have Been Charged with Driving on a Suspended License, What Should I Do?
If you have been issued a ticket for driving on a suspended or revoked license, you should speak with a Jacksonville criminal attorney and Florida drivers license lawyer. It does not matter whether you were charged with unknowingly driving on a suspended license or driving on a revoked license with knowledge. You do not want to do anything that could lead to a criminal record or lead to a Jacksonville habitual traffic offender license suspension. Call 20 Miles Law at (904) 564-2525 to speak with a Jacksonville criminal attorney with experience.