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Robinson v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

June 26, 2019

ANTOINE ROBINSON, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal of order denying rule 3.800 motion from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Bernard I. Bober, Judge; L.T. Case No. 11-15902 CF10A.

          Antoine Robinson, Arcadia, pro se.

          Ashley B. Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Luke R. Napodano, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          GERBER, C.J.

         The defendant appeals from the circuit court's denial of his Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a) motion to correct an illegal sentence. The defendant specifically challenges his sentence as a habitual felony offender (HFO). The defendant argues that the circuit court erred in treating a prior withhold of adjudication, for which the defendant did not also receive the legally-required probation or community control, as his HFO-qualifying prior conviction. We disagree with the defendant and affirm.

         To sentence a defendant as an HFO, section 775.084(1)(a)2.b., Florida Statutes (2011), provides that the court must find, among other things:

The felony for which the defendant is to be sentenced was committed . . . [w]ithin 5 years of the date of the conviction of the defendant's last prior felony or other qualified offense, or within 5 years of the defendant's release from a prison sentence, probation, community control, control release, conditional release, parole or court-ordered or lawfully imposed supervision or other sentence that is imposed as a result of a prior conviction for a felony or other qualified offense, whichever is later.

§ 775.084(1)(a)2.b., Fla. Stat. (2011) (emphasis added).

         Regarding the definition of a "conviction," section 775.084(2) provides that "the placing of a person on probation or community control without an adjudication of guilt shall be treated as a prior conviction." § 775.084(2), Fla. Stat. (2011).

         In the instant case, the circuit court treated as the defendant's HFO-qualifying prior conviction a Miami-Dade felony (from four years earlier) for which the Miami-Dade judge entered a withhold of adjudication, but suspended entry of a sentence without imposing probation or community control. Such a sentence was illegal because a withhold of adjudication on a felony requires the imposition of probation or community control. See § 948.01(2), Fla. Stat. (2011) (if a court withholds adjudication of guilt, "the court shall stay and withhold the imposition of sentence upon the defendant and shall place a felony defendant upon probation.") (emphasis added); Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.670 ("[W]here allowed by law, the judge may withhold an adjudication of guilt if the judge places the defendant on probation.") (emphasis added); State v. Tribble, 984 So.2d 639, 640 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008) ("Only if the trial court places the defendant on probation may the court withhold such adjudication of guilt. . . . Withholding or suspending adjudication or sentence in a felony case can only be done when the defendant is put on probation.") (emphasis added; citations omitted).

         The defendant did not challenge the HFO sentence on direct appeal. We affirmed his conviction and sentence, and the Florida Supreme Court denied review. Robinson v. State, 180 So.3d 1056 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015), rev. denied, No. SC15-2244, 2016 WL 698528 (Fla. Feb. 22, 2016).

         The defendant later filed in the circuit court his rule 3.800(a) motion, followed by a supplement to the motion. The defendant argued that the circuit court erred in treating his Miami-Dade felony as his HFO-qualifying prior conviction under section 775.084(1)(a)2.b. for two reasons: (1) the Miami-Dade felony was not a "conviction" under section 775.084(2) because although he received a withhold of adjudication for that offense, he was not placed on probation; and (2) because he received a withhold of adjudication but was not placed on probation for the Miami-Dade felony, the Miami-Dade sentence was illegal and could not be relied upon as his HFO-qualifying prior "conviction" under section 775.084(1)(a)2.b.

         The state filed a response arguing simply that "a withhold of adjudication can be used as a qualifying offense" ...


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