Harris v. State, 94-1985

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Citation660 So.2d 409
Docket NumberNo. 94-1985,94-1985
Parties20 Fla. L. Weekly D2158 Damon HARRIS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date20 September 1995

Richard L. Jorandby, Public Defender, and David McPherrin, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Edward L. Giles, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

GUNTHER, Chief Judge.

Appellant, Damon Harris, defendant below (Defendant), appeals a final judgment and sentence. Defendant had entered a plea of nolo contendere to attempted second degree murder, a second degree felony. Apparently, due to the involvement of a deadly weapon, the trial court enhanced Defendant's sentence to a first degree felony pursuant to section 775.087(1)(b), Florida Statutes (1991). We reverse because the record does not demonstrate that Defendant understood and agreed to the deadly weapon enhancement when entering his plea. 1

Felonies of the first degree are punishable by up to thirty years while second degree felonies are punishable by no more than fifteen years. Secs. 775.082(3)(b), (c), Fla.Stat. (1991). Moreover, this court has recently clarified that although second degree murder is a first degree felony, an attempted second degree murder is a second degree felony. Harris v. State, 650 So.2d 639, 640 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995). The fact that a weapon is used in attempted second degree murder, however, is a proper reason to reclassify the second degree felony as a first degree felony. Id. at 641.

Although Defendant was indicted for attempted first degree murder, Defendant pled no contest to the lesser included offense of attempted second degree murder. Previously, we reversed and remanded this case on a separate issue involving the waiver of the right to be sentenced as a juvenile under section 39.111, Florida Statutes (1989). Harris v. State, 633 So.2d 562 (Fla. 4th DCA 1994). Upon remand, the record reveals that the trial court resentenced Defendant to twenty years, exceeding the statutory maximum of fifteen years for a second degree felony. Apparently, the trial court had reclassified the attempted second degree murder to a first degree felony pursuant to section 775.087(1), Florida Statutes (1991). However, Defendant's counsel had stated that his intent was to make the plea to a second degree felony. Thus, it is unclear from the record whether Defendant entered his plea knowing of the enhancement.

Although case law and statutes allow the trial court to enhance the second degree murder charge to a first degree felony due to use of a deadly weapon, Rule 3.172(c)(i), Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, governing the acceptance of pleas, mandates the trial court to advise the defendant of "the maximum possible penalty provided by law...." We deem the enhancement of Defendant's sentence under these circumstances to be a definite, immediate and largely automatic effect on the range of Defendant's punishment. See Zambuto v. State, 413 So.2d 461, 462 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982). As such, the trial court, pursuant to Rule 3.172(c)(i), was required to advise Defendant of the enhancement.

Moreover, good cause to withdraw a plea has been found where a defendant proves that the plea was entered without a proper understanding...

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2 cases
  • State v. Rajaee, 98-3476.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 19 Noviembre 1999
    ...a guilty plea where the defendant thought or believed that he would be paroled and not sentenced to prison as was done); Harris v. State, 660 So.2d 409 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995) (cause remanded for hearing to determine whether the defendant should be allowed to withdraw his plea where it was uncl......
  • Wilson v. State, 1D04-1441.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 11 Marzo 2005
    ...use of a weapon); Badia v. State, 770 So.2d 300 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000); Goutier v. State, 692 So.2d 978 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997); Harris v. State, 660 So.2d 409, 410 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995); Maynoldi v. State, 456 So.2d 587, 588 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984). Where the sentence imposed exceeds the 30-year maximum s......

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