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Sandelier v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

February 28, 2018

NICHOLAS P. SANDELIER, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Martin County; Lawrence Michael Mirman, Judge; L.T. Case No. 432016CF000487A.

          Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Patrick B. Burke, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Mitchell A. Egber, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          May, J.

         The defendant appeals an order on direct criminal contempt. He argues the trial court erred in: (1) improperly classifying his failure to appear as direct contempt; (2) failing to comply with the procedural requirements for indirect contempt proceedings; and (3) failing to make sufficient findings in the judgment. We agree with him on his first two arguments and reverse.

         When the defendant failed to appear at a court hearing, the trial court issued a bench warrant and estreated his bond. The defendant moved to recall the bench warrant and set aside the bond estreature. At the hearing on his motion, the following occurred:

THE COURT: All right, [defendant], it is my practice to concurrently hold a contempt hearing because of failure to appear is considered direct contempt if it's willful; at the same time we hear the issue about recalling the bench warrant since the issue is overlapping meaning if I hold you in contempt, I can sentence you independently to six months in the county jail at the same time I hold you without bond in that regard, so, just so you're aware of that, so, I will notice you that that's what we're doing at this time. Did you want to talk to your lawyer about that or do you understand that?
(TRANSCRIBER NOTE: Pause)
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: We're ready, Your Honor.
THE COURT: You're ready to go forward? All right, so, at this time I will be conducting a contempt hearing at the same time we issue the - we address the issue of recalling the bench warrant and setting aside the estreature. If you raise your right hand, [defendant], the clerk will swear you.

         The court then asked the defendant why he should not be held in contempt for failing to appear. The defendant explained there had been a misunderstanding. He showed up to court at 1:30 p.m. on September 28, 2016, only to discover the hearing was set the day before.

         The defendant testified that he called the court clerk and his bondsman to confirm the court date on the morning of September 27. His bondsman told him the court date was September 28, and the clerk told him the hearing was at 1:30 p.m. The defendant also told the court he had a problem with a truck in the middle of the state that needed to be moved.

         The court asked the defendant why the truck was relevant to his failure to appear. The defendant replied he did not know, but later said it was why he should not be held in contempt. The State advised the court that the defendant had nine prior felony ...


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