PD-0942-17 to PD-0947-17 12/13/2017
“Are misstatements during a plea colloquy that a defendant’s sentences could be stacked enough to render a defendant’s plea involuntary without any record of what the defendant knew and why he pleaded guilty?”
In a consolidated proceeding, Martinez entered an open plea of guilty to nine business burglaries. The defense attorney, prosecutor, and judge all wrongly believed that the judge could stack the sentences, and the judge admonished Martinez accordingly. Martinez persisted in his plea, and the judge sentenced Martinez to the maximum and stacked several of the sentences.
On appeal, Martinez argued his plea was involuntary because of the misconception that stacking was possible. The State agreed the judge had impermissibly stacked the sentences but argued the remedy was to strike the cumulation orders. The court of appeals held the misconception was enough to render Martinez’s plea involuntary.
The State argues that, without a motion-for-new-trial hearing or other record of what factored into the decision to plead guilty, Martinez did not overcome the presumption that his plea was voluntary. The court of appeals erred to assume that stacking played a role in Martinez’s decision and failed to consider that it was possible to structure the plea so that the sentences could have been validly stacked.