Florida Criminal Procedure

Rules, Statutes, and Cases

3.172. Acceptance of Guilty or Nolo Contendere plea

RULE 3.172. ACCEPTANCE OF GUILTY OR NOLO CONTENDERE PLEA 

(a) Voluntariness; Factual Basis.  Before accepting a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, the trial judge shall determine that the plea is voluntarily entered and that a factual basis for the plea exists. Counsel for the prosecution and the defense shall assist the trial judge in this function. 

(b) Open Court.  All pleas shall be taken in open court, except that when good cause is shown a plea may be taken in camera. 

(c) Determination of Voluntariness.  Except when a defendant is not present for a plea, pursuant to the provisions of rule 3.180(d), the trial judge should, when determining voluntariness, place the defendant under oath and shall address the defendant personally and shall determine that he or she understands: 

(1) the nature of the charge to which the plea is offered, the maximum possible penalty, and any mandatory minimum penalty provided by law; 

(2) if not represented by an attorney, that the defendant has the right to be represented by an attorney at every stage of the proceeding and, if necessary, an attorney will be appointed to represent him or her; 

(3) the right to plead not guilty or to persist in that plea if it has already been made, the right to be tried by a jury, and at that trial a defendant has the right to the assistance of counsel, the right to compel attendance of witnesses on his or her behalf, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against him or her, and the right not to testify or be compelled to incriminate himself or herself; 

(4) that upon a plea of guilty, or nolo contendere without express reservation of the right to appeal, he or she gives up the right to appeal all matters relating to the judgment, including the issue of guilt or innocence, but does not impair the right to review by appropriate collateral attack; 

(5) that if the defendant pleads guilty or is adjudged guilty after a plea of nolo contendere there will not be a further trial of any kind, so that by pleading guilty or nolo contendere he or she waives the right to a trial; 

(6) that if the defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere, the trial judge may ask the defendant questions about the offense to which he or she has pleaded, and if the defendant answers these questions under oath, on the record, and in the presence of counsel, the answers may later be used against him or her in a prosecution for perjury; 

(7) the complete terms of any plea agreement, including specifically all obligations the defendant will incur as a result;

(8) that if he or she pleads guilty or nolo contendere, if he or she is not a United States citizen, the plea may subject him or her to deportation pursuant to the laws and regulations governing the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. It shall not be necessary for the trial judge to inquire as to whether the defendant is a United States citizen, as this admonition shall be given to all defendants in all cases; and

(9) that if the defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere, and the offense to which the defendant is pleading is a sexually violent offense or a sexually motivated offense, or if the defendant has been previously convicted of such an offense, the plea may subject the defendant to involuntary civil commitment as a sexually violent predator upon completion of his or her sentence. It shall not be necessary for the trial judge to determine whether the present or prior offenses were sexually motivated, as this admonition shall be given to all defendants in all cases.

(10) that if the defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendre and the offense to which the defendant is pleading is one for which automatic, mandatory driver‘s license suspension or revocation is required by law to be imposed (either by the court or by a separate agency), the plea will provide the basis for the suspension or revocation of the defendant‘s driver‘s license.

(d) DNA Evidence Inquiry.  Before accepting a defendant‘s plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a felony, the judge must inquire whether counsel for the defense has reviewed the discovery disclosed by the state, whether such discovery included a listing or description of physical items of evidence, and whether counsel has reviewed the nature of the evidence with the defendant. The judge must then inquire of the defendant and counsel for the defendant and the state whether physical evidence containing DNA is known to exist that could exonerate the defendant. If no such physical evidence is known to exist, the court may accept the defendant‘s plea and impose sentence. If such physical evidence is known to exist, upon defendant‘s motion specifying the physical evidence to be tested, the court may postpone the proceeding and order DNA testing.

(e) Acknowledgment by Defendant.  Before the trial judge accepts a guilty or nolo contendere plea, the judge must determine that the defendant either (1) acknowledges his or her guilt or (2) acknowledges that he or she feels the plea to be in his or her best interest, while maintaining his or her innocence.

(f) Proceedings of Record.  The proceedings at which a defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere shall be of record.

(g) Withdrawal of Plea Offer or Negotiation.  No plea offer or negotiation is binding until it is accepted by the trial judge formally after making all the inquiries, advisements, and determinations required by this rule. Until that time, it may be withdrawn by either party without any necessary justification.

(h) Withdrawal of Plea When Judge Does Not Concur.  If the trial judge does not concur in a tendered plea of guilty or nolo contendere arising from negotiations, the plea may be withdrawn.

(i) Evidence.  Except as otherwise provided in this rule, evidence of an offer or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, later withdrawn, or of statements made in connection therewith, is not admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding against the person who made the plea or offer.

(j) Prejudice.  Failure to follow any of the procedures in this rule shall not render a plea void absent a showing of prejudice.

 

COMMENTARY:  None at this time.

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