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State v. Wiley

Supreme Court of Florida

February 9, 2017

STATE OF FLORIDA, Petitioner,
v.
ADREA VERNIQUE WILEY, Respondent.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION, AND IF FILED, DETERMINED.

         Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court of Appeal - Certified Direct Conflict of Decisions First District - Case No. 1D15-858 (Escambia County)

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Trisha Meggs Pate, Bureau Chief, and Heather Flanagan Ross, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, for Petitioner

          Clinton Andrew Thomas, Public Defender, and Steven Lauren Seliger, Assistant Public Defender, Second Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, Florida, for Respondent

          POLSTON, J.

         In State v. Wiley, 179 So.3d 481 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015), the First District Court of Appeal certified conflict with State v. Ayers, 901 So.2d 942 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005), regarding whether the State must object to a downward departure sentence after it is imposed to preserve the issue for appellate review where the State had argued in opposition immediately before the sentence was imposed and during the same sentencing hearing.[1] For the reasons explained below, we hold that apprising the trial court of the State's opposition during the same proceeding is sufficient to preserve the issue as to the legal grounds argued.

         I. Background

         In Wiley, 179 So.3d at 482, the First District affirmed the trial court's decision to impose a downward departure sentence, ruling that the State failed to preserve the issue for appeal even though the State argued in opposition during the same proceeding in which the sentence was imposed. The First District explained the facts as follows:

[Wiley] pled no contest to multiple offenses arising out of a "road rage" incident that started when she and the victim exchanged words in a Whataburger drive-thru line. The trial court adjudicated [Wiley] guilty and imposed a downward departure sentence pursuant to section 921.0026(2)(d), Florida Statutes (2013), finding that [Wiley] required and was amenable to specialized treatment for her bipolar disorder.

Id. at 481-82.

         "At the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor argued against a downward departure sentence, both generally and with specificity." Id. at 482 (footnote omitted). However, relying on its decision in State v. Stephens, 128 So.3d 209 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013), the First District ruled that, "[a]lthough the prosecutor's argument clearly put the trial court on notice of the State's opposition to a downward departure sentence, it was not sufficient . . . to preserve the issue for appellate review because the prosecutor did not also object to the sentence after it was imposed." 179 So.3d at 482.

         Additionally, the First District in Wiley certified conflict with the Second District's decision in Ayers. Id. at 483. In Ayers, 901 So.2d at 944, the Second District held that the State's objection to a downward departure at the sentencing hearing that "I don't see a legal reason to depart" was sufficient to preserve the issue for appellate review. The Second District explained that "[t]he State's objection made clear that the State sought imposition of a nondeparture sentence because there was no legal reason justifying a downward departure." Id.

         II. Analysis

         In Harrell v. State, 894 So.2d 935, 940 (Fla. 2005) (emphasis omitted), this Court "stated that proper ...


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