County Criminal Court:
CRIMINAL LAW-Competency- once the
judge is presented with reasonable grounds to believe a defendant may not have
sufficient present ability to consult with his attorney and aid in the
preparation of his defense with a reasonable degree of understanding, he must
order a hearing and examination pursuant to Rule 3.210- an objective evaluation
of the facts presented to the trial court establishes that the trial court had
more than reasonable grounds to believe appellant may have been incompetent to
stand trial-trial court had an independent responsibility, on its own motion,
to make an inquiry into and hold a hearing on the competency of the defendant
when there is evidence that raises questions as to that competency -Judgment reversed. Moon v. State, No. 03-4511CFAES (
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
OF THE STATE OF
vs. Appeal No. CRC 03-4511 CFAES
County Criminal No. CTC 02-6447MMAES
Opinion filed October ___, 2004.
Appeal from Honorable Robert P.Cole
Joy k. Goodyear, Esquire
Assistant Public Defender
Attorney for Appellant
C. Marie King, Esquire
Assistant State Attorney
Attorney for Appellee
ORDER AND OPINION
matter came before the court on defendant Kevin Moon's appeal from a judgment
and sentence entered by the Pasco County Court.
court has jurisdiction.
Mr. Moon was charged with criminal mischief on October 16, 2002 for damaging a power pole. Moon pled not guilty. After a jury trial, Moon was found guilty of the charges. On appeal, Moon raises two issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in excluding evidence that the power pole was on his property; and (2) whether failure to make inquiry into appellant's competency deprived appellant of his constitutional right to a fair trial. After reviewing the briefs and the record, and being otherwise fully advised, this Court affirms the decision of the trial court as to the first issue, and reverses the decision of the trial court as to the second issue.
In addressing the first issue, the Court finds
that the trial court did not error in excluding evidence that the power pole
was on Moon's property. Admissibility of
evidence is within the sound discretion of the trial court and will not be
reversed absent abuse of discretion. State v. Lewis, 838 So. 2d 1102, 1121 (
In addressing the second issue, the Court finds that the trial court did error in not holding a competency hearing. A review of the record reveals that Moon made several statements which should have put the trial court on notice that Moon may not have been competent.
Fla.R.Crim.P. 3.210 governs the procedure for raising the issue of competence to
stand trial. Rule 3.210(b)
or during the trial the court of its own motion, or upon motion of counsel for the
defendant or for the State, has reasonable ground to believe that the defendant is not
mentally competent to stand trial, the court shall immediately enter its order setting a
time for a hearing to determine the defendant's mental condition ... and
shall order the defendant to be examined
by no more than three nor fewer than two experts prior to the date of said
test for competence to stand trial is not whether a defendant is insane, but
"whether a defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with and
aid his attorney in the preparation of a defense with a reasonable degree of
understanding," Hardy v. State, 716 So. 2d 761 (
In this case, during opening statement, the prosecutor stated "As [Deputy Jones] approached Mr. Moon, Mr. Moon said, "You need to leave my property right now. . . This is a tax free land, it belongs to the King of England and you need to leave." (T. 40).
During the trial, Moon testified as follows:
Q: And was this pole completely cut down?
A. No I cut it about halfway through. I was working on it. I was supposed to cut it all the way down.
And I was supposed to do it while a police officer was there. I'm
an undercover agent. I have two
identities, one to live by and one to rule by.
You also heard him say something
earlier about "that land belonging to the King of
THE COURT: Counsel--
A. I am the
THE COURT: --take control of your client and ask questions, please.
Mr. Moon be responsive to the questions that Mr. Spiegel asks, please, sir.
A. The reason Judge Cole don't want the deeds brought into court is because he thinks they float . They don't have to come down on the property.
Q: Mr. Moon, I'm going to ask the questions here, okay?
Mr. Moon, was there any maliciousness in your taking down this pole?
A: No, sir. It was something I had to do, or supposed to do to stop things to come.
the present case, Moon exhibited unusual behavior that raised questions as to
his competency. As the record reveals,
he stated that he was the King of England, that he was undercover agent with
two identities, and that he cut down the pole 'to stop things to come.' An
objective evaluation of the facts presented to the trial court establishes that
the trial court had more than reasonable grounds to believe that Moon may have
been incompetent to stand trial. Brockman
at 334. Thus,
the trial court had an independent responsibility, "on its own motion, to
make an inquiry into and hold a hearing on the competency of the defendant when
there is evidence that raises questions as to that competency." Hill v.
State, 473 So. 2d 1253, 1257 (
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the judgments and sentences be REVERSED.
DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at New
Primary Appellate Judge
Daniel D. Diskey
Copies furnished to:
Honorable Robert P. Cole
Joy K. Goodyear, Assistant Public Defender
C. Marie King, Assistant State Attorney