MCFADDEN, P. J., BRANCH and BETHEL, JJ.
Lamar Batten appeals from the denial of his motion for a new
trial. He argues that the trial court erred in denying his
motions to suppress and in admitting certain statements that
he made to law enforcement officers. We disagree and affirm
because the trial court did not err in denying the motions.
a conviction, we view the evidence "in the light most
favorable to support the verdict, " and the defendant
"no longer enjoys a presumption of innocence."
Everhart v. State, 337 Ga.App. 348, 348 (786 S.E.2d
866) (2016) (quoting Culver v. State, 230 Ga.App.
224, 224 (496 S.E.2d 292) (1998)). So viewed, the
evidence shows that the Ben Hill County
Sheriff's Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation
("GBI") placed a tracking device on Batten's
vehicle as part of their investigation into Batten's drug
distribution activities. On December 4, 2013, the vehicle
tracker indicated that Batten had stopped at several
locations associated with the distribution of narcotics. The
tracker went dead during Batten's return trip home, and
the GBI investigator monitoring Batten's activities
conducted surveillance on the interstate to look for
Batten's vehicle. The investigator observed Batten's
vehicle and began following him, while informing the
Sheriff's office of his whereabouts. Investigators from
the Sheriff's office continued to follow Batten and
conducted surveillance as he stopped first at the house of an
associate who investigators believed may have also been
involved in the distribution of methamphetamine, and later at
an apartment complex. One of the investigators continued to
follow Batten as he left the complex and drove into Ben Hill
County. Shortly after crossing the county line, the
investigator observed Batten cross the center line and
decided to activate his lights and stop Batten out of concern
that he may have been under the influence. An officer in a
marked patrol car assisted in the stop. The investigator
instructed Batten to step out of his vehicle, requested
identification and proof of insurance, and asked whether
Batten had anything illegal in the vehicle, which Batten
denied. Another officer asked Batten if he had "a
problem with [the officer] searching [Batten's]
truck?" Batten replied, "No, go ahead." After
officers discovered methamphetamine hidden in a box under the
vehicle, Batten was placed in handcuffs.
spoke with police while handcuffed, and officers admit that
he had not been informed of his Miranda rights;
however, the State did not introduce these statements at
trial. Batten was not taken into custody following the stop,
but came into the Sheriff's office the next day to be
interviewed regarding his drug distribution activity. Batten
was informed of his Miranda rights prior to that
interview, and he signed a form acknowledging them. During
that interview, which was later played for the jury, Batten
admitted to hiding methamphetamine in a box hidden under his
vehicle. Batten was arrested sometime later.
to trial, Batten filed a motion to suppress evidence arising
from the stop, arguing that officers lacked probable cause to
stop Batten, and that Batten did not consent to the search of
his vehicle. Batten also moved to suppress his statements
made to police because he was not informed of his
Miranda rights. The trial court denied these
found Batten guilty of trafficking in methamphetamine and
operating a vehicle containing a secret compartment. Batten
filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial court denied
following a hearing. This appeal followed.
argues that the trial court erred in denying his motions to
While the trial court's findings as to disputed facts in
a ruling on a motion to suppress will be reviewed to
determine whether the ruling was clearly erroneous, where the
evidence is uncontroverted and no question regarding the
credibility of the witnesses is presented, the trial
court's application of the law to undisputed facts is
subject to de novo appellate review.
Johnson v. State, 305 Ga.App. 635, 636 (700 S.E.2d
612) (2010) (citation omitted). Because the relevant facts
here are undisputed, we review the trial court's ruling
Batten first argues that he did not consent to a search of
his vehicle, but merely acquiesced to the authority of the
police. Batten argues that there were several police officers
present, some of whom were shining flashlights, and that the
State did not meet its burden in establishing that consent
was freely and voluntarily given. Batten is correct that the
State "has the burden of proving the validity of a
consensual search and must show the consent is given
voluntarily." State v. Jourdan, 264 Ga.App.
118, 120 (1) (589 S.E.2d 682) (2003) (citation and
punctuation omitted). "Consent which is the product of
coercion or deceit on the part of the police is invalid.
Consent is not voluntary when it is the result of duress or
coercion, express or implied." Id. at 121 (1)
(citations and punctuation omitted).
The voluntariness of consent is determined by the totality of
the circumstances; no single factor controls. The standard
for measuring the scope of a suspect's consent under the
Fourth Amendment is that of objective reasonableness-what
would the typical reasonable person have understood by the
exchange between the officer and the suspect. The appropriate
inquiry is whether a reasonable person would feel free to
decline the officers' request to search or otherwise
terminate the encounter. Mere acquiescence to the authority
asserted by a police officer cannot substitute for free
consent. And, we are required to scrutinize closely an
alleged consent to search.
Id. (internal citations and punctuation omitted).
though there were several police officers present during the
stop holding flashlights (as it was dark), the videotape of
the traffic stop corroborates the officers' testimony
regarding the consensual nature of the search yielding the
methamphetamine sought to be suppressed. See Morris v.
State, 239 Ga.App. 100, 101 (1) (520 S.E.2d 485) (1999)
(consent voluntary where officer asked the defendant if he
minded if the officer examined a matchbox, and the defended
responded "no, go ahead."). Batten was not in
handcuffs prior to the search, and there is no evidence that
he was being threatened in any way, that he was misled, or
that he was subject to a lengthy detention before giving his
consent to search. See Kendrick v. State, 335
Ga.App. 766, 769 (782 S.E.2d 842) (2016) ("A consent to
search will normally be held voluntary if the totality of the
circumstances fails to show that the officers used fear,
intimidation, threat of physical punishment, or lengthy
detention to obtain the consent." (citation omitted));
State v. Westmoreland, 204 Ga.App. 312, 313-14 (2)
(418 S.E.2d 822) (1992) (consent was just acquiescence where
defendant consented to search only after an officer told him
that the officer did not need a warrant). Moreover, the mere
fact that four officers were present and holding flashlights
when Batten was asked for permission to search his vehicle
does not mean that his consent was merely an acquiescence to
their authority. See Smith v. State, 165 Ga.App.
333, 334-35 (2) (299 S.E.2d 891) (1983) (consent voluntary
where defendant was initially ordered out of his car at
gunpoint, but police were no longer pointing weapons at him
when he was asked for permission to search his vehicle).
Rather, the officers testified that Batten was asked whether
he would consent, and he did so. Compare Hollenback v.
State, 289 Ga.App. 516, 519 (657 S.E.2d 884) (2008)
(consent was not freely and ...