Pleading to a Crime You Didn’t Commit

Can you plead guilty to a crime you didn’t commit? Unfortunately, you can. But what happens if you do? Are you stuck with that conviction on your record? The Second District Court of Appeal addresses this in Patlan v. State.

Patlan Pleads to Sexual Predator Registration Violations

In Florida, Sex Offenders live by different rules than any other resident. They can’t live wherever they want. For obvious reasons, they can’t visit elementary schools and a bunch of other places. For a run down on Registration Offenses, check out my page on Sex Crimes.

Here, Patlan pleads to two Registration Offenses for Sexual Predators. During the plea colloquy, his lawyer tells the judge that there’s a factual basis for this plea. Interestingly, Patlan isn’t a Sexual Predator; so, in reality, there’s no basis for the plea.

After the judge sentences him, Patlan realizes the mistake. On appeal, he argues that his lawyer was ineffective by pleading him to a crime he didn’t commit.

Court Reverses Pleas to Crimes Patlan Didn’t Commit

Courts rarely reverse cases when the lawyer doesn’t object. But they do when there’s fundamental error. Fundamental errors reach down into the foundation of the case so the Court can fix them even when lawyers fail to object. In this case, the Second District sees the fundamental error.

The record makes it clear that Patlan plead guilty to crimes he didn’t commit. It’s not a factual issue. There’s zero chance he’s guilty.

Legally, he’s not a Sexual Predator. Therefore, he’s not bound by the rules for Sexual Predators. Accordingly, he didn’t commit a crime when he failed to follow the rules for Sexual Predators. Thus, the Court reverses his convictions.

Read the Patlan opinion here!

Talk to an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney!

The criminal defense firm Brown Legal PLLC operates from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but regularly handles cases throughout South Florida and the rest of the state. Before it’s too late, talk to Mr. Brown and see if he can help you! Reach out over the phone at (954) 524-6700 or through the Contact Page if you have any questions.

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