Plea deals can be a very effective way to resolve a criminal case and limit the potential consequences of a conviction for a sex crime or other crime. That said, it’s important for a person considering a plea to fully understand what he or she is agreeing to do, the rights he or she is giving up, and the benefit (if any) he or she is getting in return. As a recent case out of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida shows, you usually can’t take the agreement back once you sign it.
A defendant was arrested and charged with production of child pornography after police found that he was allegedly exchanging pornographic material with another person via email. The cops found the emails after arresting another man on similar charges in Tennessee. FBI agents and police officers obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home in Jacksonville, where they seized a laptop computer and thumb drive. They later found some 650 child pornography images on the computer and thumb drive.
When law enforcement officers talked to the defendant at his work, he admitted to controlling the email account that the cops had found was sending and receiving child pornography, according to the court. He told the cops that he had used his iPhone to capture some of the images while babysitting a nine-year-old child.
The defendant later entered into a plea agreement. He admitted to many of the facts alleged by prosecutors, according to the court, and signed an agreement in which he agreed to waive his right to appeal his punishment for the crime. The defendant was convicted and eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was also ordered to serve 20 years of supervised release following the prison time.
The defendant later filed a motion with the court, asking it to vacate that sentence. He argued that he should have been told that he might be able to enter an “open plea,” reserving the right to appeal the sentence. The district court denied the motion. The judge said he failed to show that he was prejudiced by allegedly not being told that he could enter an open plea. “Petitioner alleges only that he would have ‘considered entering an open plea’ had counsel advised him of the possibility,” the court said. “Merely alleging that he would have ‘considered’ an open plea, however, is insufficient to show that the result of Petitioner’s proceedings would have been different.” In fact, the court said there was no evidence showing that the prosecutors would have actually offered the defendant the option to enter an open plea.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime in Florida, it is essential that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced lawyer. Clearwater child pornography attorney Will Hanlon is a seasoned lawyer who fights aggressively on behalf of clients charged with a wide range of offenses. Call our offices at (727) 897-5413 or contact us online to speak with Mr. Hanlon about your case.
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