Court Reverses Withdrawal of No Contest Plea in Florida Criminal Case – Golden v. State

In addition to the factual ins, outs and what have yous in any given case, there are a number of procedural tools in the criminal defense lawyer’s shed that may be drawn on in defending criminal charges in Florida. In Golden v. State, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal takes on a case of criminal procedure jiu jitsu in which a criminal defendant attempts to reduce his prison sentence by pleading no contest, withdrawing the plea, and then arguing that the trial court should not have allowed him to withdraw his plea.

Michael Golden was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in April 2009. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to five years of probation. More than a year later, he filed a motion to withdraw his no contest plea, arguing that he had been under the impression that his probation sentence would run concurrently with a probation sentence on a separate criminal charge of felony battery with great bodily harm. The State did not oppose the motion and the trial court granted leave to withdraw the plea.

One month later, the State filed an amended complaint against Golden, including both the battery and aggravated assault charges. A jury found Golden guilty and he was sentenced to four years in prison on each count, to be served concurrently.

Golden then filed an appeal, claiming that his convictions should be reversed because the trial court did not have jurisdiction to grant his motion to withdraw the no contest plea because it was not filed in the 30-day deadline proscribed by Florida law. Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.170(l) allows a criminal defendant to withdraw a plea under certain circumstances up to 30 days after a sentence is rendered. ” [O]nce this thirty-day limit passes, the trial court loses jurisdiction, and a defendant cannot confer jurisdiction on the trial court by waiver, acquiescence, estoppel or consent,” the court explained, citing the Fourth District’s 1991 decision in State v. Schafer.

In this case, Golden’s motion to withdraw the plea fell outside the 30-day period. As a result, the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the withdrawal motion and erred in granting it. The First District reversed his convictions and remanded the case to the trial court with instructions that it reinstate the five-year probation sentence.

This case is a good example of the procedural complexities that can arise in a Florida criminal case. Anidjar & Levine’s attorneys are a team of criminal defense lawyers, investigators and medical and legal support experts who are fully capable of handling all aspects of a criminal case. The attorneys at Anidjar & Levine understand that each situation is sensitive and provide free, confidential consultations with no obligation. The firm believes in providing honest, professional and compassionate legal services for each and every client. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges in Florida, please call Anidjar & Levine P.A. toll-free at 800-747-3733 or fill out and submit the online Contact Us form to schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced South Florida criminal defense attorney.

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