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Caudle v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

August 16, 2019

Holly Elizabeth Caudle, Appellant,
v.
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Santa Rosa County. John F. Simon, Judge.

          Holly Elizabeth Caudle, pro se, Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          PER CURIAM.

         Affirmed.

          Kelsey and MK Thomas, JJ, concur;

          B.L. Thomas, J., concurring.

         Appellant, Holly Elizabeth Caudle, appeals the denial of her postconviction motion filed pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 3.850. Because each of the grounds asserted for relief is either meritless or refuted by portions of the record that were attached to the order, I concur with the affirmance.

         Appellant was charged as a Principal to Home Invasion Robbery with a Deadly Weapon in violation of sections 777.011 and 812.135, Florida Statutes, and Child Abuse by Intentional Act that Could Reasonably be Expected to Result in Physical or Mental Injury in violation of section 827.03, Florida Statutes. Appellant signed a Sentence Recommendation in which she pleaded no contest to these charges without an agreement as to the sentence. The trial court adjudicated her guilty based on her plea and sentenced her to concurrent terms of 20 years' imprisonment for the robbery charge and five years' imprisonment for the child abuse charge.

         In her timely postconviction motion, Appellant raised seven grounds for relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. She also claimed that the cumulative effect of counsel's errors resulted in a fundamentally unfair trial.

         Appellant alleged that counsel told her that he was going to have her sentenced as a youthful offender with a 364-day jail sentence and 5 years' probation or community control. This advice, according to Appellant, fell below the standard of effective assistance of counsel because she was not eligible for sentencing as a youthful offender and she did not receive the promised sentence. Appellant asserted that she would not have pleaded no contest and would have insisted on going to trial had she been properly advised.

         The postconviction court denied relief on this ground because Appellant was not misadvised regarding her eligibility to be sentenced as a youthful offender and the plea colloquy refuted her claim that she was coerced into entering the plea with a promise that she would be given a specific sentence.

         The trial court properly denied relief on this claim. While youthful offender sentencing does not apply to any person found to be guilty of a capital or life felony, see § 958.04(1)(c), Fla. Stat. (2014), Appellant was not convicted of a capital or life felony. See Stewart v. State, 201 So.3d 1258, 1260 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016); Williams v. State, 405 So.2d 436, 438 (Fla. 1st DCA 1981) (explaining that a life felony is limited to that class of felonies for which one may be punished "by a term of imprisonment for life or for a term of years not less than 30" (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)). Rather, Appellant was convicted of child abuse, a third-degree felony, and home invasion robbery with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding life. Further, the sentencing court considered imposing a youthful offender sentence in this case but rejected such sentencing in light of Appellant's co-defendants' sentences, the nature of the charges, and the surrounding circumstances of this case. Accordingly, counsel did not misadvise Appellant that she could receive a youthful ...


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