Heggs v. State, No. SC93851.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation759 So.2d 620
PartiesCurtis Leon HEGGS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date17 February 2000
Docket NumberNo. SC93851.

759 So.2d 620

Curtis Leon HEGGS, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee

No. SC93851.

Supreme Court of Florida.

February 17, 2000.

Rehearings Denied May 4, 2000, and July 10, 2000.


759 So.2d 621
James Marion Moorman, Public Defender, and Richard J. Sanders, Assistant Public Defender, Tenth Judicial Circuit, Bartow, Florida, for Appellant

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General; James W. Rogers and Edward C. Hill, Jr., Assistant Attorneys General, Tallahassee, Florida; and Dale E. Tarpley, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, Florida, for Appellee.

PER CURIAM.

REVISED OPINION

We have for review a circuit court judgment certified as having a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout Florida and as requiring immediate resolution by this Court. See Heggs v. State, 718 So.2d 263 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998). Specifically, the Second District has requested that this Court determine whether chapter 95-184, Laws of Florida, is unconstitutional as violative of the single subject rule contained in article III, section 6 of the Florida Constitution. We have jurisdiction. See Art. V, § 3(b)(5), Fla. Const. As we explain more fully, based on our analysis in State v. Thompson, 750 So.2d 643 (Fla. 1999), we hold that chapter 95-184 violates the single subject rule and invalidate the law in its entirety.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND IN THE PRESENT CASE

In December 1995, the State of Florida (the State) filed an information against Curtis Leon Heggs (Heggs), charging him

759 So.2d 622
with committing an armed robbery on November 2, 1995, in violation of section 812.13(2)(a), Florida Statutes (1995). Later that December, the State filed a second information, charging Heggs with committing an additional armed robbery with the offense occurring on October 24, 1995, in violation of the same statute. On September 4, 1996, a jury found Heggs guilty of the armed robbery offense charged in the second information, and later that same day, Heggs entered a written plea of guilty to the armed robbery charged in the first information

Subsequently, on November 1, 1996, the trial court sentenced Heggs on each armed robbery offense to 132 months (11 years) in prison, with such sentences to run concurrently. The trial court calculated Heggs' sentences based on the 1995 sentencing guidelines—which were the 1994 sentencing guidelines as amended by chapter 95-184, Laws of Florida—because he committed his offenses on or after October 1, 1995. See Ch. 95-184, §§ 2-6, at 1678-98, Laws of Fla.; § 921.001(4)(b)2., Fla. Stat. (1995); see also Fla. R.Crim. P. 3.702; Fla. R.Crim. P. 3.991. Under the 1995 guidelines, the permitted sentencing range for Heggs' offenses was 83.2 to 138.7 months, while under the 1994 guidelines, the permitted sentencing range for these offenses would have been 55.8 to 93.5 months.1 Further, because Heggs carried a firearm during the commission of the armed robberies, each of his sentences included a three-year minimum prison term in accordance with section 775.087(2), Florida Statutes (1995).2 After imposition of these sentences, Heggs filed a consolidated appeal from both his trial and plea cases on November 18, 1996.

On appeal before the Second District, Heggs asserted in his initial brief that both of his sentences were either "illegal" or "unlawful" because chapter 95-184 violates the single subject rule contained in article III, section 6 of the Florida Constitution, which provides, in pertinent part, that "[e]very law shall embrace but one subject and matter properly connected therewith, and the subject shall be briefly expressed in the title." Even though Heggs had not raised the single subject rule challenge in the trial court, he claimed in his brief that the challenge should be considered for the first time on appeal under the doctrine of fundamental error. The Second District agreed with Heggs and stated:

Heggs did not challenge the constitutionality of the sentencing guidelines in the circuit court. Even so, his increased sentence[s] under the 1995 guidelines implicate[] a fundamental due process liberty interest. See State v. Johnson, 616 So.2d 1, 3 (Fla.1993). Consequently, we may review this issue of fundamental
759 So.2d 623
error on appeal. See Id. at 4; see also § 924.051(3), Fla. Stat. (Supp.1996).

Heggs, 718 So.2d at 264. On the merits, the Second District declined to rule on the single subject rule challenge, but instead certified the issue as having a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout Florida, requiring immediate resolution by this Court. See id. Before making this certification, however, the Second District observed:

Heggs'[] challenge to chapter 95-184 presents an issue very similar to that raised in Thompson v. State, 708 So.2d 315 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998), review granted, 717 So.2d 538 (Fla.1998). In Thompson, we held that chapter 95-182, which addressed violent career criminal sentencing, was unconstitutional because the enactment embraced civil and criminal provisions that had no "natural or logical connection." That chapter's objectionable civil provisions addressing domestic violence injunctions also appear in chapter 95-184, at issue here. As we pointed out in Thompson, these three provisions began as bills in the Florida House of Representatives, failed to pass, and later were engrafted onto several Senate Bills: SB 168, which became chapter 95-182 (the subject of Thompson); SB 172, which became chapter 95-184 (the subject of this case); and SB 2216, which became chapter 95-195.
Following our own precedent in Thompson, we believe that chapter 95-184 violates the single subject rule because it, too, embraces civil and criminal provisions that are not logically connected. The two subjects "are designed to accomplish separate and dissociated objects of legislative effort." 708 So.2d at 317 (quoting State ex rel. Landis v. Thompson, 120 Fla. 860, 892-893, 163 So. 270, 283 (1935)). Likewise, as in Thompson, here there is no legislative statement of intent to implement comprehensive legislation to solve a crisis. See Thompson, 708 So.2d at 315.

Heggs, 718 So.2d at 264. Heggs is now before this Court for determination of the issue certified.

II. STANDING TO CHALLENGE CHAPTER 95-184 ON SINGLE SUBJECT RULE GROUNDS

In the decision below, the Second District determined that the window period for challenging chapter 95-184 on single subject rule grounds opened on October 1, 1995. See Heggs, 718 So.2d at 264 n. 1. We agree with this determination as applied to persons such as Heggs who claim that their guidelines sentences are invalid due to the changes in the guidelines within chapter 95-184.3 Thus, the applicable window period in this case opened on October 1, 1995, and Heggs clearly committed his offenses after that date.

The Second District also determined that the window period for challenging chapter 95-184 on single subject rule grounds closed on May 24, 1997, the date on which chapter 97-97, Laws of Florida, reenacted the provisions contained in chapter 95-184 as part of the Legislature's biennial adoption of the Florida Statutes. See Heggs, 718 So.2d at 264 n. 1 (relying on State v. Johnson, 616 So.2d 1, 2 (Fla. 1993)). However, in Bortel v. State, 743 So.2d 595, 597 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999), the Fourth District certified conflict with the Second District's determination in Heggs

759 So.2d 624
regarding the close of the window period. Specifically, the Bortel Court held that the defendant in that case, who committed his offenses between October 26, 1996, and November 24, 1996, did not have standing to challenge his guidelines sentences because "the sentencing guidelines at issue here were reenacted in 1996 pursuant to Chapter 96-388, Laws of Florida, with an effective date of October 1, 1996, thereby curing the constitutional defect raised in this case." Bortel, 743 So.2d at 596 (relying on Salters v. State, 731 So.2d 826 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999), and Scott v. State, 721 So.2d 1245 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998)). We note that whether the window period closed on October 1, 1996, or on May 24, 1997, in the present case Heggs would still have standing to raise his single subject rule challenge because he committed the offenses at issue on October 24 and November 2, 1995. In light of this fact, we decline to rule in this case as to when the window period closed for persons claiming that their guidelines sentences are invalid due to the amendments affected by chapter 95-184

III. HEGGS' FAILURE TO RAISE HIS SINGLE SUBJECT RULE CHALLENGE IN THE TRIAL COURT

Even though Heggs did not assert a single subject rule challenge against chapter 95-184 in the trial court, the Second District determined that it could review such a challenge for the first time on appeal in this case because "his increased sentence[s] under the 1995 guidelines implicate[] a fundamental due process liberty interest." Heggs, 718 So.2d at 264. Upon review, it is clear that the sentences imposed on Heggs under the 1995 guidelines are longer (by over three years each) than they would have been had he been sentenced pursuant to the 1994 guidelines. Accordingly, we agree with the Second District that, under this Court's reasoning in Johnson, see 616 So.2d at 2, Heggs' single subject rule challenge against chapter 95-184 is reviewable for the first time on appeal.4 Therefore, we now turn to the merits of Heggs' challenge.

IV. SINGLE SUBJECT RULE ANALYSIS

The single subject rule challenge against chapter 95-184 in this case is almost identical to the challenge presented in Thompson v. State, 708 So.2d 315, in which the defendant raised a single subject rule challenge to chapter 95-182, Laws of Florida. Specifically, as noted by the Second District below, see Heggs, 718 So.2d at 264, the same three provisions dealing with domestic violence are located in chapter 95-182, the chapter law considered in Thompson, and chapter 95-184, the chapter law at issue here. Compare Ch. 95-182, §§ 8-10, at 1673-75...

To continue reading

Request your trial
835 practice notes
  • Maddox v. State, No. SC92805
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 11, 2000
    ...with regard to a claim that the session law enacting sentencing guidelines violated the single-subject requirement. See Heggs v. State, 759 So.2d 620, 623 (Fla.2000) (citing Johnson, 616 So.2d at 2). We have also used the term "fundamental" to address the imposition of costs without statuto......
  • State v. Collins, No. SC05-108.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 5, 2008
    ...In fact, in Trotter v. State, 825 So.2d 362 (Fla.2002), in which this Court addressed the impact of its decision in Heggs v. State, 759 So.2d 620 (Fla.2000),6 we specifically rejected a double jeopardy challenge to the State seeking and the trial court imposing a drug trafficking multiplier......
  • Ford v. Secretary, Dept. of Corrections, No. 8:06-cv-1331-T-17MAP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • April 4, 2008
    ...16). He complained in the motion that he was sentenced in violation of State v. Thompson, 750 So.2d 643 (Fla.2000), and Heggs v. State, 759 So.2d 620 (Fla.2000), and that his habitual felony offender sentence was illegal. On January 11, 2002, the trial court issued an order summarily denyin......
  • Franklin v. State, No. SC03-413.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • September 30, 2004
    ...is in circumstances such as these that problems with the single subject rule are most likely to occur." Id.; see also Heggs v. State, 759 So.2d 620, 627 (Fla.2000) (chapter law which contained disparate provisions added near the end of the sessions constituted a "classic act of This Court h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
835 cases
  • Maddox v. State, No. SC92805
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 11, 2000
    ...with regard to a claim that the session law enacting sentencing guidelines violated the single-subject requirement. See Heggs v. State, 759 So.2d 620, 623 (Fla.2000) (citing Johnson, 616 So.2d at 2). We have also used the term "fundamental" to address the imposition of costs without statuto......
  • State v. Collins, No. SC05-108.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 5, 2008
    ...In fact, in Trotter v. State, 825 So.2d 362 (Fla.2002), in which this Court addressed the impact of its decision in Heggs v. State, 759 So.2d 620 (Fla.2000),6 we specifically rejected a double jeopardy challenge to the State seeking and the trial court imposing a drug trafficking multiplier......
  • Ford v. Secretary, Dept. of Corrections, No. 8:06-cv-1331-T-17MAP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • April 4, 2008
    ...16). He complained in the motion that he was sentenced in violation of State v. Thompson, 750 So.2d 643 (Fla.2000), and Heggs v. State, 759 So.2d 620 (Fla.2000), and that his habitual felony offender sentence was illegal. On January 11, 2002, the trial court issued an order summarily denyin......
  • Franklin v. State, No. SC03-413.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • September 30, 2004
    ...is in circumstances such as these that problems with the single subject rule are most likely to occur." Id.; see also Heggs v. State, 759 So.2d 620, 627 (Fla.2000) (chapter law which contained disparate provisions added near the end of the sessions constituted a "classic act of This Court h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT