Williamson v. State, 80-48

Decision Date14 October 1980
Docket NumberNo. 80-48,80-48
PartiesJimmie Lee WILLIAMSON, Appellant, v. The STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Bennett H. Brummer, Public Defender and Peter Raben, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant.

Jim Smith, Atty. Gen., and Susan C. Minor, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.



In the course of burglarizing a home on Miami Beach, the defendant-appellant was set upon by its occupants; he was severely beaten, losing three teeth, and was bound hand and foot until the police arrived. After being charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling, "Williamson" negotiated the terms of a guilty plea with the prosecution which were accepted by the court. In accordance with that agreement, on May 14, 1979, he pled guilty and was sentenced to one year in the county jail, followed by three years probation. 1 At the defendant's request, ostensibly to permit him to complete a job on which he was working at the time, the court granted him until June 1, 1979 to surrender for the service of his jail term. June 1 arrived but Williamson did not. He did not again appear until September 19 when he was taken into custody on the alias capias which had been issued for his arrest. After hearing, his probation was then revoked because of his failure to appear on June 1, and he was resentenced to 15 years in the state prison; the court also retained jurisdiction, pursuant to Section 947.16(3), Florida Statutes (Supp.1978), to "veto" any parole of the defendant before he had served one-third of the sentence. On this ensuing appeal, we affirm the sentence, but reverse the retention of jurisdiction.

Williamson-Griffin's primary contention is that his probation was erroneously revoked because the failure to surrender was not technically in violation of any of the stated conditions of the order of probation 2 indeed, the appellant points out that when the plea was taken the postponed surrender was expressly stated not to be a special condition of probation, but rather of the plea. See, Morgan v. State, 341 So.2d 201 (Fla. 2d DCA 1977); see also, Donneil v. State, 377 So.2d 805 (Fla. 3d DCA 1979); Sutton v. State, 348 So.2d 626 (Fla. 3d DCA 1977). We agree with the factual premises of the appellant's argument but not with his conclusion. Since Williamson's probationary term, which was to follow his year in jail, had not yet begun, he could not have been in violation of any of its express terms prior to that time-even if he had committed a first degree murder while at liberty. The issue therefore is whether probation may validly be revoked for plainly improper conduct which occurs before the term actually begins. Martin v. State, 243 So.2d 189 (Fla. 4th DCA 1971), cert. denied, 247 So.2d 63 (Fla.1971), considered this very issue. At 243 So.2d 190-91, the court held in language we consider controlling here:

The question here is whether a defendant probationer can, with impunity, engage in a criminal course of conduct (or for that matter any course of conduct which is essentially contrary to good behavior) during the interval between the date of an order of probation and some subsequent date when the probationary term is to commence. We think not. To hold otherwise would make a mockery of the very philosophy underlying the concept of probation, namely, that given a second chance to live within the rules of society and the law of the land, one will prove that he will thereafter do so and become a useful member of society. Cf. McNeely v. State, Fla.App. 1966, 186 So.2d 520. Although the statute empowers the court to revoke probation when a probationer has violated a condition of his probation in a material respect, the power to revoke probation is an inherent power of the trial court, Bronson v. State, 1941, 148 Fla. 188, 3 So.2d 873, which may be exercised at anytime upon the court determining that the probationer has violated the law. State ex rel. Roberts v. Cochran, supra. Under the exercise of such inherent power, the court can revoke an order of probation, the term of which has not yet commenced, should the court determine that the defendant probationer has been guilty of misconduct occurring subsequent to the entry of the order of probation. (e. s.)

While Martin's pre-probation actions, unlike Williamson's, involved the commission of specific crimes, this does not change the result. It is obvious that Williamson's failure to adhere to an undertaking which was granted, like the probation itself, only as a matter of grace of the court, 3 was a reprehensible "course of conduct which is essentially contrary to good behavior," 243 So.2d at 190, and "misconduct," 243 So.2d at 191, which well-supports an exercise of the trial court's inherent power to revoke the order of probation. Again to draw upon the language of the Martin opinion, it would be a mockery to permit Williamson to claim his continued entitlement to future probation after he deliberately and knowingly violated the trust reposed in him upon the granting of his own request for a reciprocal benefit. 4 See also, Loeb v. State, 387 So.2d 433 (Fla. 3d DCA 1980); cf., State v. Belien, 379 So.2d 446 (Fla. 3d DCA 1980). We will not approve such a result. 5

The trial court's application of Section 947.16(3) was, however, erroneous. At the time of the commission of the crime, 6 the statute provided:

Persons who have become eligible for parole and who may, according to the objective parole guidelines of the commission, be granted parole shall be placed on parole in accordance with the provisions of this law; except that, in any case of a person convicted of murder, robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, kidnapping, sexual battery, arson, or any felony involving the use of a firearm or other deadly weapon or the use of...

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