Court Explains Standard for Allowing a Defendant to Withdraw a Guilty Plea Post Sentencing in a Florida Sex Crime Case

In Florida sex crime cases, the defendant is permitted to enter whatever plea he or she chooses. In some cases, a defendant may choose to plead guilty, in exchange for a reduced sentence or penalty. While a defendant is free to enter any plea he or she chooses at the outset of a sex crime case, changing a plea at later stages of the case can be very difficult.

In a recent Florida appellate case, the court ruled that a defendant who pleaded guilty to sex crimes did not meet the burden of proof required to show he should be permitted to change his plea following sentencing. If you are charged with a sex crime in St. Petersburg, it is in your best interest to meet with a capable St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and available defenses.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Alleged Crime

Reportedly, the defendant engaged in sexual activity with his 13-year-old stepdaughter. He was charged with sexual battery by a person in familial authority and lewd or lascivious molestation. He pleaded guilty to the charges in exchange for concurrent terms of time served to be followed by sex offender probation. Following his sentencing, however, the defendant filed a motion to withdraw his plea, due to the fact that he was not advised that he would be subject to electronic monitoring as part of his probation. The trial court denied his motion, after which the defendant appealed.

Standard for Permitting Withdraw of a Guilty Plea After Sentencing

On appeal, the court noted that the Florida statutes regarding probation for sex offenders defined terms of probation that are deemed standard and do not require oral pronouncement. Among the terms is the requirement that the trial court order mandatory electronic monitoring. While the parties agreed that the defendant was not orally advised that he would be required to submit to electronic monitoring they disputed whether the failure to advise him of the monitoring requirement was a sufficient basis to allow him to withdraw his plea.

The court stated that if a defendant wants to withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing, the defendant must show that a withdraw is necessary to correct a patent injustice. A defendant can show manifest injustice by producing evidence his or her plea was not entered into voluntarily. The court noted that whether a defendant voluntarily entered a plea depends on whether he or she is aware of the direct consequences of the plea. The court clarified, however, that a failure to advise a defendant of collateral consequences of a plea did not make the plea involuntary. In determining where a consequence is direct or collateral, the court looks at the manner in which it affects the range of the defendant’s punishment.

Here, the court found that requiring a defendant to submit to electronic monitoring did not affect the range of the punishment and was not a direct consequence of the defendant’s plea.  Thus, the court found that the defendant had failed to meet the burden of proof required to show he should be allowed to withdraw his plea, and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Consult a Knowledgeable St. Petersburg Sex Crime Defense Attorney

If you are a St. Petersburg resident charged with a sex crime, you should consult a knowledgeable St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to discuss your options. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a seasoned St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney who can assist you in determining how you should proceed under the facts of your case. Mr. Hanlon can be contacted at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to schedule a meeting.

More Blog Posts:

Court Explains What Constitutes a Substantial Step Towards a Sex Crime in Florida Case, February 14, 2019, St. Petersburg Sex Crimes Lawyer Blog