FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Circuit Court for Lee
County; Ramiro Mañalich, Judge.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Cerese Crawford
Taylor, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Petitioner.
Kathleen A. Smith, Public Defender, and Elizabeth Heffington,
Assistant Public Defender, Fort Myers, for Respondent.
State seeks certiorari review of the order denying its motion
seeking the imposition of release conditions on William
Spuhler pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure
3.212(d). Because the trial court did not depart from the
essential requirements of law in denying the State's
motion, we deny the petition, but we write to address the
availability of release conditions for defendants who are
incompetent but do not qualify for involuntary commitment
under section 916.13, Florida Statutes (2016).
was charged with driving while license suspended and driving
while license suspended causing death, and he was determined
to be incompetent and not restorable in July 2016. The
parties initially agreed that he would be placed on one year
of conditional release. As the end of that year approached,
the State sought an additional period of conditional release
pursuant to rule 3.212(d). The trial court denied its motion,
determining that because Spuhler did not meet the criteria
for commitment under section 916.13, conditional release was
not available and the State's only remedy was under the
Baker Act, if appropriate.
review is proper when it is alleged that the circuit
court's interpretation of a statute violates clearly
established law or when it fails to follow the dictates of a
statute and the error is sufficiently egregious as to
result in a miscarriage of justice." McCray v.
State, 230 So.3d 495, 497 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017) (quoting
In re Asbestos Litig., 933 So.2d 613, 616 (Fla. 3d
DCA 2006)); see also Abreu-Gutierrez v. James, 1
So.3d 262, 266 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009) (explaining that the
proper method to challenge a nonfinal commitment order is by
motion, the State sought imposition of release conditions
pursuant to rule 3.212(d), which provides:
If the court decides that a defendant is not mentally
competent to proceed but does not meet the criteria for
commitment, the defendant may be released on appropriate
release conditions. The court may order that the defendant
receive outpatient treatment at an appropriate local facility
and that the defendant report for further evaluation at
specified times during the release period as conditions of
response, Spuhler contends that rule 3.212(d) "is only
relevant when a defendant has the possibility of being
restorable." This is incorrect. See McCray, 230
So.3d at 497; Dep't of Children & Family Servs.
v. Barnett, 124 So.3d 430, 433 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013)
(concluding that the trial court "should consider
whether appropriate conditions may again be lawfully imposed
under rule 3.212(d)" when releasing a defendant who was
ineligible for further commitment under section 916.13
because he was not restorable to competency); Dep't
of Children & Families v. C.Z., 201 So.3d 78, 79
(Fla. 3d DCA 2015) (stating that because the respondent was
ineligible for involuntary civil commitment under the Baker
Act, "[b]y default, the only option the trial court had
available to provide placement . . . was through conditional
release, pursuant to . . . [rule] 3.212(d)");
Abreu-Gutierrez, 1 So.3d at 267 (recommending that
the trial court base the defendant's release on
conditions imposed pursuant to rule 3.212(d) if it determined
on remand that he could not be restored to competency).
agree with the State's argument that the trial court
erred in concluding that the State was limited to civil
commitment proceedings and was not entitled to the imposition
of release conditions under rule 3.212(d) solely because
Spuhler could not be restored to competency. "[T]he
proper course when an incompetent defendant does not meet the
criteria for commitment and cannot be restored to
competency is for the State to initiate civil commitment
proceedings under the Baker Act or for the court to
release the defendant 'on appropriate conditions'
as provided in [r]ule 3.212(d)." McCray,
230 So.3d at 497 (quoting Dep't of Children &
Family Servs. v. Amaya, 10 So.3d 152, 157 (Fla. 4th DCA
2009)). However, because this ruling does not amount to a
departure from the essential requirements of law, we deny the
departure from the essential requirements of the law
necessary for the issuance of a writ of certiorari is
something more than a simple legal error. There must be a
violation of a clearly established principle of law resulting
in a miscarriage of justice." Id. (quoting
Fassy v. Crowley, 884 So.2d 359, 363-64 (Fla. 2d DCA
2004)). "Unlike the application of incorrect law, 'a
misapplication of the correct law or an erroneous
interpretation of a law does not rise to the necessary level,
' i.e., 'a violation of a clearly established
principle of law resulting in a miscarriage of justice.'
" Mahany v. Wright's Healthcare & Rehab.
Ctr., 194 So.3d 399, 402 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016) (quoting
Fassy, 884 So.2d at 364). Although the trial court
misinterpreted rule 3.212(d) to the extent that it determined
that the rule was inapplicable to nonrestorable defendants,
it considered and applied the correct rules and statutes
applicable to a motion seeking imposition of release
conditions on an incompetent defendant.
rule 3.212(d) does not mandate that a trial court impose
release conditions. The language of the rule is permissive:
"If the court decides that a defendant is not mentally
competent to proceed but does not meet the criteria for
commitment, the defendant may be released on
appropriate release conditions." Fla. R. Crim. P.
3.212(d) (emphasis added). It is within the trial court's
discretion to "exercise its informed judgment to craft
a solution balancing [the defendant's] ...