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State of Idaho v. Halton Flowers

March 17, 2011

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
HALTON FLOWERS,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for Bannock County. The Hon. Peter C. McDermott and the Hon. Robert C. Naftz, District Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eismann, Chief Justice.

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

2011 Opinion No. 30

The judgment and order of the district court are affirmed.

In this appeal, the defendant challenges his sentence for statutory rape and the denial of his post-sentencing motion to withdraw his guilty plea on the ground that he had not been advised of the requirement that he register as a sexual offender. We affirm the judgment and the order of the district court.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Twenty-four-year-old Halton Flowers (Defendant) was charged with three felonies: raping a sixteen-year-old girl in violation of Idaho Code § 18-6101(1); committing lewd conduct upon a fourteen-year-old girl in violation of Idaho Code § 18-1508; and attempting to commit lewd conduct upon a fifteen-year-old girl in violation of Idaho Code §§ 18-306 and 18-1508. All three crimes were alleged to have been committed in August 2007.

The State and Defendant agreed to a plea agreement under which Defendant would plead guilty to the rape charge, the State would dismiss the other two charges, and the State would recommend a sentence of ten years in the custody of the Idaho Board of Correction, with three years fixed and seven years indeterminate.*fn1 Pursuant to that plea agreement, Defendant pled guilty to the rape charge on October 27, 2008, and the other two charges were dismissed.

On December 15, 2008, the district court sentenced Defendant on the rape charge to fifteen years in the custody of the Idaho Board of Correction, with five years fixed and ten years indeterminate. The following day Defendant filed a motion to reduce the sentence pursuant to Rule 35 of the Idaho Criminal Rules. The court heard that motion on January 26, 2009, and denied it. Defendant filed a notice of appeal on December 31, 2008.

On September 25, 2009, Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea pursuant to Idaho Criminal Rule 33(c). He alleged that he should be permitted to withdraw the plea because the district court had not complied with Idaho Criminal Rule 11(d)(2) by informing him of the requirements to register as a sexual offender. The court denied the motion by order issued on November 10, 2009.*fn2 That order was included in the appeal pursuant to Idaho Appellate Rule 11(c)(9) as an "order made after judgment affecting the substantial rights of the defendant or the state."

II. ISSUES ON APPEAL

A. Did the district court abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea?

B. Did the district court abuse its discretion in imposing sentence?

III. ANALYSIS

A. Did the District Court Abuse Its Discretion in Denying Defendant's Motion to Withdraw His Guilty Plea?

Idaho Criminal Rule 33(c) states: "A motion to withdraw a plea of guilty may be made only before sentence is imposed or imposition of sentence is suspended; but to correct manifest injustice the court after sentence may set aside the judgment of conviction and permit the defendant to withdraw defendant's plea." "The rule distinguishes between pleas made prior to and after sentencing, exacting a less rigorous measure of proof for presentence motions." State v. Dopp, 124 Idaho 481, 485, 861 P.2d 51, 55 (1993). To withdraw a guilty plea prior to sentencing, the defendant must show a just reason for withdrawing the plea. Id. If he does so, then the State may avoid the granting of the motion by showing that prejudice would result if the plea were withdrawn. Id. A showing of manifest injustice is necessary in order to withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing. "A motion to withdraw a guilty plea brought after sentencing will only be granted to correct manifest injustice." State v. Heredia, 144 Idaho 95, 97, 156 P.3d 1193, 1195 (2007).

1. Defendant must show manifest injustice. Defendant moved to withdraw his guilty plea nine months after the district court sentenced him. Defendant contends that the motion should be considered as having been made before sentencing because the sentencing was void. According to Defendant, "the court never actually accepted the plea of guilty after it had made the determinations required by I.C.R. 11(c) or adjudged him guilty of the crime." If it did not accept the guilty plea, then Defendant "was never formally adjudged guilty under I.C. ยง 19-101"; "[s]ince ...


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