Florida Court Discusses Standard for Granting a Post-Conviction Withdraw of Plea

In some cases, it is beneficial to enter a guilty plea to criminal charges. It is essential that prior to entering a guilty plea a defendant understands the full extent of penalties he or she may face. If a defendant pleads guilty to a crime but is not fully informed of the potential sentences for the crime, he or she may be able to withdraw the plea.

A Florida appellate court recently addressed the standard for allowing a defendant to withdraw a plea after a conviction, in a case in which the defendant was not informed of mandatory sentencing requirements prior to entering his plea. If you are Tampa resident facing criminal charges, you should meet with a capable Tampa criminal defense attorney to discuss the potential penalties for the charges you face.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Plea and Sentencing

Reportedly, the defendant was involved in a motor vehicle collision in which he rear-ended another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle was paralyzed and the defendant was charged with DUI involving serious bodily injury to another.  The trial court advised the defendant during a change of plea colloquy that his driver’s license may be suspended “for additional periods” if he pled guilty to a drug offense. The court did not mention any other revocation. The defendant plead guilty, after which the State requested that the court permanently revoke the defendant’s driver’s license. Further, the State noted that the statutory minimum revocation was for three years.

It is alleged that the court sentenced the defendant to 60 months in prison and 12 months of probation, and revoked his license for 20 years. The defendant filed a motion to withdraw his plea, arguing that he was not informed that a conviction for DUI involving serious bodily injury to another required a minimum license suspension. The court denied his motion, after which the defendant appealed.

Motion to Withdraw a Plea

When a defendant files a motion to withdraw a plea, he or she is entitled to an evidentiary hearing unless the record decisively disproves his or her allegations. When the motion is filed after sentencing, a defendant must show patent injustice that needs to be remedied in order to withdraw a plea.  The court noted that to determine whether a defendant is voluntarily entering a guilty plea to an offense that requires mandatory revocation of a license, the court must provide the basis for the revocation. Further, the court stated that a court is required to inform a defendant of a mandatory license suspension, to ensure that any plea is entered into voluntarily.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendant may be able to argue that the revocation issue was essential to his decision to enter a plea. The court found, therefore, that the issue of whether the defendant’s plea was entered into voluntarily needed to be assessed at an evidentiary hearing. Thus, the court reversed and remanded for an evidentiary hearing.

Meet with a Capable Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are charged with a crime in Tampa, you should meet with a capable Tampa criminal defense attorney to discuss a plan of action to defend against the charges you face.  William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney who will aggressively advocate on your behalf to help you retain your liberties.  Mr. Hanlon can be reached at 813-228-7095 or via the online form to schedule a consultation.

More Blog Posts:      

Florida Court of Appeals Overturns Conviction After Defendant’s Attorney Does Not Comply with the Defendant’s Wishes to Withdraw his Plea, December 12, 2018, Tampa Criminal Lawyer Blog