Spriggs v. State, No. 91-1199

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtFARMER; GLICKSTEIN
Citation615 So.2d 828
Docket NumberNo. 91-1199
Decision Date17 March 1993
Parties18 Fla. L. Week. D729 Eric Wayne SPRIGGS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.

Page 828

615 So.2d 828
18 Fla. L. Week. D729
Eric Wayne SPRIGGS, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee.
No. 91-1199.
District Court of Appeal of Florida,
Fourth District.
March 17, 1993.

Richard L Jorandby, Public Defender, and Susan D. Cline, Asst. Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, and Melynda Melear, Asst. Atty. Gen., West Palm Beach, for appellee.

EN BANC

FARMER, Judge

The issue faced today by the entire court is whether, in sentencing a defendant as a

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habitual felony offender [HFO] under section 775.084(1)(a), Florida Statutes (1991), the trial court must make specific factual findings so qualifying the defendant when he has previously, expressly consented to an HFO sentence as part of a plea agreement. We now hold that the trial court is not obliged to do so and, thus, we recede from the panel decision to the contrary in Baskerville v. State, 606 So.2d 509 (Fla. 4th DCA 1992).

The facts here are straightforward and uncomplicated. Some four months after his arrest for an attempted purchase of cocaine, the court held a pre-plea conference and heard testimony from an officer who had previously arrested Spriggs. He testified that Spriggs had three burglary convictions stretching back to 1980 and 1981; and his latest convictions were from several burglaries and a robbery in 1986, from which he had been released from prison in August 1989. The officer testified, however, that he viewed the 1986 burglaries as the product of the influence of a girlfriend and his addiction to cocaine. That was followed by testimony from Spriggs's father and mother, who talked about his drug dependency and his latest attempts to rehabilitate himself. A guidance counselor testified to a job awaiting him and his need for drug therapy.

All of this evidence was presented by defendant's counsel as the basis for a plea discussion with the court. At this point the trial judge suggested that Spriggs make application to a particular drug rehabilitation program called "Fern House" and find out if he could be admitted. The court stated that he was considering letting the matter pend while Spriggs attempted successful completion of his therapy. He added pointedly: "If you screw up the program, you won't be able to say no one gave you any therapy--no one ever gave you a chance." After reciting what he had learned about Spriggs's prior convictions, he unmistakably added: "Otherwise, I don't see any reason why not to habitualize [sic] you, to tell you the truth."

Two days later, the parties were back before the same trial judge. The judge recited all of the salient facts learned at the hearing two days earlier and added that, after thinking the matter over, his initial comment about the sentence would still hold but that he would now simply require that the plea be made "straight up" but that actual sentencing would await the completion of the drug rehabilitation program. He said: "That would give him some incentive to do well at Fern House. If he screws up at Fern House we don't have any problem habitualizing him." [e.s.]

The prosecutor then asked if the court was familiar with his actual record, and the court made clear that it was. The prosecutor pointed to several other charges that were dropped at the convictions for the 1986 felonies and that Spriggs had previously been given a "break". She added that the guidelines called for a sentence of 12 to 17 years and that he could be "bumped up" to 17 to 22 years. The prosecutor then asked the court:

[PROSECUTOR] So, in other words, what you are saying is he is pleading straight up to the Court, he is agreeing to plead as a habitual offender to ten years in prison? That is the maximum he can get? He understands that. He pleads straight up, and you are going to impose sentence at some future date after he has had the opportunity to complete Fern House. * * *

THE COURT: What I am saying is if he successfully completes Fern House I won't sentence him as a habitual felony offender. * * *

You want to do that? That is really sticking your head--

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: The thing is: what is your offer to him?

THE COURT: Plead straight up as a habitual offender, subjecting himself to the ten year sentence. I delay sentence; he goes off to Fern House. I am guaranteeing and telling him if he finishes Fern House successfully, and that is the six months down the road, that he won't be sentenced as a habitual felony offender. I might give him some jail time. I

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don't know what I will do. That depends on how he does. [e.s.]

At that point, the court heard from the director of the drug program that he had interviewed and approved Spriggs and that he had entered the program on the previous afternoon. The judge then continued:

THE COURT: Well, you sit down and think about this. It is a gamble that you are taking, and it depends on how confident you are. You still have two choices: one, go to jail, and one, plead straight up. You know what is going to happen if you plead straight up. If you don't go, you are going to get 10 years.

After a recess, during which defendant and his counsel conferred, Spriggs returned to the courtroom and accepted the trial court's proposal. Once more, the trial judge restated the agreement:

THE COURT: Let me tell you. You agree to enter the guilty plea to the charge straight up. You agree that you could be sentenced to a maximum sentence of 10 years as a habitual offender and be released pending sentence to enter and successfully complete Fern House. If you successfully complete Fern House, I will not sentence you as a habitual offender. But you could be sentenced to 5 years in the Division of Corrections. But depending on how you do in Fern House you have it within your power to reduce that sentence. [e.s.]

Defendant agreed to the plea and signed a plea sheet to that effect.

While in the rehabilitation program, Spriggs was once more arrested and, again, for another attempted cocaine purchase. After his removal from the program, he was brought before a different judge to be sentenced. At this hearing, the state introduced evidence of the prior crimes committed by Spriggs in 1986, i.e., four convictions for burglary of a dwelling and one for robbery. The court sentenced Spriggs to 10 years as a HFO, explaining: "That is the exact sentence he knew he was going to get when he walked out of this courtroom the last time." Spriggs now appeals his HFO sentence, arguing that the trial court erred in failing to make the requisite findings.

Baskerville involved a slightly different twist in the agreed plea. The charge in that case was the sale of cocaine. Because the state there, as here, had previously filed the requisite HFO notice, the court asked the prosecutor what prior convictions were the basis for an HFO sentence. The prosecutor produced copies of convictions for burglary, attempted sale of cocaine, sale of cocaine and uttering a forgery. These copies were introduced into evidence without objection, and defense counsel actually stipulated to a factual basis for HFO sentencing.

In essence, the quid pro quo for the defense plea in Baskerville was a shorter HFO sentence, a release from jail after the plea and sentencing to be held one week later. If he appeared one week later for sentencing and had committed no new offense, then his sentence would be 7 years as a HFO. If he failed to appear or had...

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8 practice notes
  • State v. Will, No. 93-2956
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 9, 1994
    ...as part of a plea bargain, it is unnecessary for the trial court to make the statutory habitual offender findings. Spriggs v. State, 615 So.2d 828, 829 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993) (en banc); accord Bell v. State, 637 So.2d 941, 942 (Fla. 2d DCA 1994). That being so, no useful purpose would be serve......
  • Irving v. State, No. 92-1659
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 23, 1993
    ...findings qualifying the defendant as a habitual felony offender. Suarez v. State, 616 So.2d 1067 (Fla. 3d DCA 1993); Spriggs v. State, 615 So.2d 828 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993) (en banc); Jefferson v. State, 571 So.2d 70 (Fla. 1st DCA The record reflects that Irving both accepted the habitual offen......
  • Bell v. State, No. 92-03529
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 25, 1994
    ...making the findings that he had the predicate felony convictions as required under section 775.084(1). We disagree. In Spriggs v. State, 615 So.2d 828 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993), the Fourth District held that a defendant may knowingly and voluntarily waive, in a plea agreement or otherwise, the ri......
  • Lee v. State, No. 98-04332.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • April 7, 1999
    ...offender criteria. Id. We declined to require the trial court to undertake such a pointless endeavor. Id.; accord Spriggs v. State, 615 So.2d 828 (Fla. 4th DCA We cannot tell from the record whether Lee had the requisite prior felony convictions to sentence him as a habitual offender. We ac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • State v. Will, No. 93-2956
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 9, 1994
    ...as part of a plea bargain, it is unnecessary for the trial court to make the statutory habitual offender findings. Spriggs v. State, 615 So.2d 828, 829 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993) (en banc); accord Bell v. State, 637 So.2d 941, 942 (Fla. 2d DCA 1994). That being so, no useful purpose would be serve......
  • Irving v. State, No. 92-1659
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 23, 1993
    ...findings qualifying the defendant as a habitual felony offender. Suarez v. State, 616 So.2d 1067 (Fla. 3d DCA 1993); Spriggs v. State, 615 So.2d 828 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993) (en banc); Jefferson v. State, 571 So.2d 70 (Fla. 1st DCA The record reflects that Irving both accepted the habitual offen......
  • Bell v. State, No. 92-03529
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 25, 1994
    ...making the findings that he had the predicate felony convictions as required under section 775.084(1). We disagree. In Spriggs v. State, 615 So.2d 828 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993), the Fourth District held that a defendant may knowingly and voluntarily waive, in a plea agreement or otherwise, the ri......
  • Lee v. State, No. 98-04332.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • April 7, 1999
    ...offender criteria. Id. We declined to require the trial court to undertake such a pointless endeavor. Id.; accord Spriggs v. State, 615 So.2d 828 (Fla. 4th DCA We cannot tell from the record whether Lee had the requisite prior felony convictions to sentence him as a habitual offender. We ac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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