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Carbajal v. State

Supreme Court of Florida

November 3, 2011

David CARBAJAL, Petitioner,
v.
STATE of Florida, Respondent.

Page 259

Sarah Lahlou-Amine of Fowler, White and Boggs, P.A., Tampa, FL, for Petitioner.

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL, Robert J. Krauss, Bureau Chief, Elba C. Martin-Schomaker, and Cerese Crawford Taylor, Assistant Attorneys General, Tampa, FL, for Respondent.

CANADY, C.J.

In this case, we consider the timeliness of a claim raised under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 that the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor (OSP) lacked jurisdiction to prosecute the defendant. We have for review Carbajal v. State, 28 So.3d 187 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010), in which the Second District Court of Appeal rejected Carbajal's argument that the time limitations of rule 3.850 were not applicable to his claim that the OSP's lack of jurisdiction to prosecute him divested the circuit court of jurisdiction to enter judgment against him.

Page 260

The Second District held that Carbajal's claim that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to enter judgment or sentence was barred by the time limits of rule 3.850. The Second District certified that its decision on this issue expressly and directly conflicts with the following decisions: Gunn v. State, 947 So.2d 551 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006); Brown v. State, 917 So.2d 272 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005); Harris v. State, 854 So.2d 703 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003); and Harrell v. State, 721 So.2d 1185 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998). We have jurisdiction. See art. V, ยง 3(b)(4), Fla. Const.

Although the Second District's ruling was based on its holding that the rule 3.850 time limits apply to claims asserting that a judgment was void because it was entered by a court without jurisdiction, the Second District also observed that any lack of jurisdiction by the OSP would not divest the circuit court of jurisdiction. The Second District noted that its view on this point was in disagreement with the decisions in Luger v. State, 983 So.2d 49 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008), and Winter v. State, 781 So.2d 1111 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001).

Because we conclude that any lack of jurisdiction by the OSP did not divest the circuit court of jurisdiction, we decline to address the certified conflict issue. Instead, as further explained below, we resolve this case on the ground that Carbajal's challenge to the jurisdiction of the OSP was barred by the time limitations of rule 3.850. Accordingly, we approve the Second District's affirmance of the trial court's denial of Carbajal's motion. We disapprove Luger and Winter. To the extent that they hold that an error regarding the jurisdiction of the OSP renders a conviction void ab initio, we likewise disapprove Small v. State, 56 So.3d 52 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011); Brown; and Zanger v. State, 548 So.2d 746 (Fla. 4th DCA 1989).

I. BACKGROUND

In December 2001, the OSP filed a ten-count information charging David Carbajal with a variety of drug offenses. In January 2002, Carbajal entered a nolo contendere plea to the charges and was sentenced to 155 months in prison. He did not appeal his judgment or sentence. Carbajal, 28 So.3d at 187.

In February 2007, Carbajal filed a successive motion for postconviction relief pursuant to rule 3.850, in which he asserted that because " ALL the crimes alleged, and ALL the actions pertinent to those crimes, occurred in the same county and circuit," the OSP did not have jurisdiction to prosecute in his case and therefore the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to enter his conviction and sentence. Carbajal further asserted that his challenge to the jurisdiction of the circuit court was an issue that could be raised at any time and that his postconviction motion therefore should not be denied as untimely. The circuit court agreed that Carbajal's motion was timely but denied relief on the merits. Carbajal, 28 So.3d at 188.

On appeal, the Second District affirmed the denial of relief on the basis that the motion was untimely. Id. The Second District explained that while rule 3.850 envisages claims asserting that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the defendant's conviction or sentence, pursuant to the plain language of the rule, in a noncapital case any motion for postconviction relief must be filed no later than two years after the judgment and sentence become final. The Second District listed the three exceptions to the two-year limit: (1) claims predicated on facts which were previously unknown to the movant or the movant's attorney and could not have been ascertained by the exercise of due diligence; (2) claims predicated on a fundamental constitutional right that was not established

Page 261

within the two-year period and has been held to apply retroactively; or (3) situations where retained counsel failed to timely file the motion. The Second District concluded that because Carbajal's allegations did not fit any of these exceptions, his motion was untimely. Id. at 189. On this point, the Second District certified conflict with Gunn,Brown,Harris, and Harrell, which determined that the two-year limitation in rule 3.850(b) was inapplicable to a motion demonstrating that ...


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