County Criminal Court: CRIMINAL PROCEDURE Ė Pleas Ė Defendant conditioned his misdemeanor plea on belief that it would not affect the presentation of his companion felony case. Because of subsequent events in his felony case, the plea in the misdemeanor case might adversely affect the defendantís position in his felony case. Therefore, there was no abuse of discretion in allowing the defendant to withdraw his plea in the misdemeanor case. Ė Order granting motion to withdraw plea affirmed. State v. Nelson, No. CRC 04-11 APANO (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. Oct. 19, 2004).










††††††††††† Appellant,


Appeal No. CRC 04-11 APANO

†††† UCN522004AP000011XXXXCR





††††††††††† Appellee.




Opinion filed __________________.


Appeal from a decision of

the Pinellas County Court

County Judge Dorothy Vaccaro


C. Marie King, Esq.

Assistant State Attorney


Sarah Rumph, Esq.

Assistant Public Defender




††††††††††† THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Stateís appeal from a decision of the Pinellas County Court granting the defendantís motion to withdraw his plea. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the decision of the trial court.

††††††††††† At the time of his plea to the charges, the defendant also had a companion felony case that arose out of the same facts as were involved in the misdemeanor charge. The defendant entered his plea to the misdemeanor charges, but he did so with a condition. That condition is the crucial point in this appeal. The Stateís argument is that the defendant entered the plea with only the condition that it not affect his ability to present his motion to suppress in the felony case. The State reasons that because there is nothing to indicate that the defendant was prevented from presenting his motion to suppress in the felony case, then the plea agreement should be honored. The fact that the defendant ultimately did not prevail on the motion to suppress is not a factor because the agreement was that the defendant would be able to present his motion, not that he would prevail on it.

††††††††††† The defendantís position appears to be that the condition was that the plea in the misdemeanor case would not affect anything in his felony case. It appears that the position the defendant took in the misdemeanor proceedings is now, in hindsight, different from the position he wants to assert in the felony proceedings. Apparently, the trial judge believed that what the defendant was conditioning his misdemeanor plea on was the belief that the plea would not affect his ability to put on a defense to the felony charge. The trial court, at least by implication, found that a refusal to allow the withdrawal of the plea to the misdemeanor charges would be manifestly unjust because it might adversely affect the defendantís position in the much more serious felony charge.

The standard of review in this case is an abuse of discretion. Graham v. State, 779 So.2d 604 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001). Given this standard of review, this Court cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion under the circumstances of this case. A review of the transcript of the plea hearing leaves at least some doubt as to what condition the defendant was actually reserving. Generally, the law favors a trial on the merits. Elias v. State, 531 So.2d 418 (Fla. 4th DCA 1988).

††††††††††† IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the order granting the defendantís motion to withdraw his plea is affirmed.

††††††††††† DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this _____ day of October, 2004.



††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ________________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† James R. Case

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Judge




††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† _______________________

††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Nancy Moate Ley

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Judge




††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† _______________________

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† John A. Schaefer

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Circuit Judge



cc:State Attorney


†††††† Public Defender


†††††† Judge Vaccaro