On November 27, 2012, Miami–Dade Police discovered the location of a stolen Volkswagen Jetta and began watching that area. Officer Del Los Santos saw four individuals enter the car. As Officer Del Los Santos approached the car from the rear with his police cruiser, the driver of the Jetta put the vehicle in reverse and crashed into the police cruiser. Officer Del Los Santos testified at trial that he then saw D.L. get out of the driver's side of the Jetta and run past his cruiser. Officer Williams testified that the keyhole in the ignition was “punched,” meaning that someone tampered with the ignition as a means of starting the car without its key. The keyhole was enlarged to approximately twice the size of a normal keyhole.
The judge deciding the case found D.L. guilty of trespass because D.L.'s running from the police indicted that he knew the Jetta was stolen when he got into it.
D.L. appealed his conviction, and the court of appeals reversed his conviction for the following reasons:
1. When trespass involves a stolen vehicle, a prosecutor has to prove that the accused individual knew the vehicle was stolen.
2. In this case, the prosecutor did not prove that D.L. knew or should have known that the Jetta was stolen.
3. It was not clear whether D.L. was the driver of the Jetta or a passenger in the back seat. If he was a backseat passenger, then the prosecutor did not prove that he could have seen the punched ignition from that location.
4. Although running from the scene of a crime does tend to show "consciousness of guilt," flight, by itself, is not enough to support a guilty verdict.
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