A domestic violence conviction can dramatically impact a person’s liberties and reputation. Therefore, in some instances, a person convicted of a domestic violence crime may seek post-conviction relief, such as asking for a plea to be vacated. In a recent Florida opinion, a court explained the procedure for filing a motion to vacate in a matter in which the defendant sought to set aside her guilty plea to battery of her 72-year-old mother. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is in your best interest to speak to a knowledgeable Tampa domestic violence defense attorney regarding your rights.
The History of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was charged with committing a crime of domestic violence against her mother in 2014. She entered a guilty plea to a lesser included charge of battery. She then spent five years trying to seal her criminal record but was unsuccessful. Subsequently, she filed a motion to set aside her plea, arguing that her attorney provided her inaccurate information regarding her ability to have her record sealed, which rendered her plea involuntary. The court granted her motion, and the State appealed, arguing that the defendant’s motion was time-barred. The appellate court agreed, reversing the lower court ruling.
Filing a Motion to Vacate in Florida
Under Florida law, a party has two years from the entry of a final judgment and sentence to file a motion to vacate. There is an exception, though, in cases in which the facts that form the basis of the motion were not available to the moving party and could not have been discovered by exercising due diligence. In such instances, the moving party must file his or her motion within two years of when the new information is discovered or reasonably would have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.
In the subject case, the court explained that a public criminal record is a natural consequence of a criminal conviction. Thus, the defendant should have been aware of the legal impact of her guilty plea at the time she entered it. Further, the court found that the fact that the defendant was not eligible to have her records sealed pursuant to the relevant statutory law did not toll the statute of limitations, as this information was readily discoverable at the time the plea was made as well. Instead, the defendant waited over three years after her sentence was final to move to set it aside. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling. Continue Reading ›