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Wynn v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

August 2, 2019

MICHAEL ELIJAH WYNN, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Volusia County, R. Michael Hutcheson, Senior Judge.

          Michael Elijah Wynn, Sneads, pro se.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Pamela J. Koller, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

          LAMBERT, J.

         Michael Elijah Wynn appeals the amended judgment and sentence entered following the trial court's granting, in part, of his motion to correct illegal sentence filed pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a). Because the sentence remains illegal, we reverse and remand for the entry of a second amended judgment and sentence.

         Pertinent to this appeal, Wynn was convicted after trial of aggravated battery with a firearm, in violation of section 784.045(1)(a)2., Florida Statutes (2010), which was a second-degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.[1] However, based upon the specific factual findings made by the jury in its verdict that during the commission of this crime, Wynn discharged a firearm resulting in great bodily harm to the victim, the trial court reclassified this conviction to a first-degree felony pursuant to section 775.087(1)(b), Florida Statutes (2010). The court sentenced Wynn to serve thirty years in prison. As a result of the jury's findings, the court also imposed a twenty-five-year mandatory minimum sentence pursuant to section 775.087(2)(a)3.[2]

         Following an unsuccessful direct appeal, Wynn filed the instant rule 3.800(a) motion contending that his thirty-year prison sentence was illegal because his conviction was improperly reclassified to a first-degree felony. See Johnson v. State, 149 So.3d 727, 728 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) ("Aggravated battery with a firearm is not subject to reclassification [from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony] pursuant to section 775.087(1) because the use of a firearm is an essential element of the crime."). The State conceded that under the circumstances of this case, reclassification was inappropriate. It nevertheless argued that under the aforementioned section 775.087(2)(a)3., Wynn's thirty-year prison sentence, with the twenty-five-year mandatory minimum provision, remained lawful because this statute exposed Wynn to a mandatory minimum sentence of up to life in prison. The statute provides:

Any person who is convicted of a felony or an attempt to commit a felony listed in sub-subparagraphs (a)1.a.-q., [3]regardless of whether the use of a weapon is an element of the felony, and during the course of the commission of the felony such person discharged a "firearm" or "destructive device" as defined in [section] 790.001 and, as the result of the discharge, death or great bodily harm was inflicted upon any person, the convicted person shall be sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than 25 years and not more than a term of imprisonment of life in prison.

         The postconviction court agreed with the State. It orally granted the motion to the extent that Wynn's conviction would no longer be reclassified as a first-degree felony. However, the court did not change the terms of the sentence, reasoning that since this statute allowed it to impose a sentence "as high as [a] life [sentence]" and "as low as twenty-five [years]," Wynn's thirty-year sentence was appropriate as it was "between twenty-five and life." The court entered an amended judgment and sentence to show that Wynn's conviction for aggravated battery with a firearm was now a second-degree felony. Wynn's prison sentence remained at thirty years, with the twenty-five-year mandatory minimum provision. We reverse.

         The resolution of this appeal is governed by our decision in Wooden v. State, 42 So.3d 837 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010), approved by Hatten v. State, 203 So.3d 142 (Fla. 2016). In Wooden, the defendant was convicted of attempted second-degree murder with a firearm, a second-degree felony. 42 So.3d at 837. Like the present case, the jury made findings by special verdict that Wooden discharged a firearm during the commission of the crime and, as a result of the discharge, great bodily harm was inflicted on the victim. Id. Because the attempted second-degree murder was committed with a firearm, the trial court reclassified the conviction from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony. Id. The trial court then sentenced Wooden to serve fifty years in prison, with a minimum mandatory sentence of twenty-five years. Id.

         We reversed Wooden's fifty-year prison sentence and remanded for the trial court to correct the sentence. Id. We held that based upon the jury's factual findings, Wooden faced a minimum mandatory sentence range of twenty-five years to life imprisonment under section 775.087(2)(a)3.; however, once the trial court imposed the minimum mandatory sentence of twenty-five years, it could not thereafter exceed the statutory maximum penalty of thirty years for a first-degree felony.[4] Id. As we specifically wrote, "[t]he twenty-five year to life minimum mandatory range under section 775.087(2)(a)[3.] does not create a new statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment." Id.

         In the present case, based upon the jury's specific findings, Wynn's twenty-five-year mandatory minimum sentence for his aggravated battery with a firearm conviction is lawful, even though it exceeds the fifteen-year statutory maximum penalty for a second-degree felony. See § 775.087(2)(c), Fla. Stat. (requiring the trial court to impose the mandatory minimum prison sentence if it exceeds the statutory maximum prison sentence). However, under Wooden, once the trial court imposed the required twenty-five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, it could not thereafter exceed the fifteen year maximum penalty for the second-degree felony. Thus, that portion of Wynn's sentence that exceeds the required twenty-five-year mandatory minimum remains illegal.

         Accordingly, on remand, the trial court is directed to correct Wynn's sentence on his conviction for aggravated battery with a firearm to twenty-five years' mandatory minimum imprisonment. Because this ...


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