PRC and pleas
I'd mentioned a couple of months back that many courts, the 8th District for one, have been very particular in demanding that trial courts advise defendants of post-release controls during plea hearings; generally, they've held that failure to completely advise the defendant of post-release controls voids the plea. An appellate lawyer came up with an interesting twist on that argument last week in State v. Reed.
The case is straight out of Bad Decisions, Volume 36. Reed was charged with burglary, a 2nd degree felony. The state offered to drop it down to a 4th degree felony, pretty much of a sweetheart deal. The judge even brought Reed into the courtroom, and explained that if he took the deal, he could only get a maximum 18 months, versus the 8 years he was looking at if he went to trial and was convicted. Reed acknowledged that his attorney had told him the same thing, but he insisted on going to trial anyway. You've seen this movie, and you know how it ends: Reed was convicted of the burglary, and the judge gave him six years.
On appeal, Reed's attorney urged that the judge's failure to inform Reed of post-release control rendered Reed's rejection of the plea offer "unknowing and unintelligent." The "unintelligent" part was pretty much of a given. As for the unknowing part, the defense acknowledged that the judge was under no obligation to inform him of the consequences of rejecting the state's plea offer, but since the judge had voluntarily assumed that obligation, he had the duty to inform Reed of post-release controls as well.
The 6th District didn't buy it, needless to say, finding that while Criminal Rule 11(C) requires a trial judge to inform the defendant of various rights and penalties before accepting a plea of guilty, it has no such obligation when the defendant pleads not guilty. Plus, the court rightly noted,
Appellant openly insisted on risking the possibility of an additional 78 months incarceration and preserved his right to a jury trial. Even if the trial judge had informed appellant of post-release control issues, there is no reason to believe that appellant would have decided any differently.
While we're on the subject of post-release controls, the 6th District also had a reminder last week in State v. Holt that the failure of the trial court to mention post-release controls in both the sentencing entry and in the sentencing hearing means that the controls weren't properly imposed, and the defendant has to be resentenced. If he's not, then the imposition of post-release controls isn't valid.