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29 Jul 2016

Attorney Jeffrey Garland Saves Tugboat Captain’s License

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Port Saint Lucie DWLS Defense AttorneyTugboat Captain’s Coast Guard License Saved Via Motion to Correct Sentencing Error

Tugboat Captain’s Coast Guard License Saved Via Motion to Correct Sentencing Error Blaine Masters (not his real name) was charged with felony DWLS. After paying for not one, but two other lawyers, he plead out to the felony and got “just” 120 days in jail with no probation. He was adjudicated guilty of the felony.

After learning what would happen to his license to operate tugboats, Blaine consulted with Attorney Jeffrey Garland. After a cursory review of the discovery and driving history, Garland realized that there was no legal basis for the felony charge: Blaine was guilty of only a 60-day misdemeanor. Garland filed a Motion to Correct Sentencing Error on 7/13/16 – just eight days after Blaine was sentenced. The State agreed that the sentence was illegal. Judge McCann entered an order on 7/28/16 reducing the felony DWLS to a second degree misdemeanor and the sentence from 120 days to 60 days.

The felony conviction was vacated and the tugboat license saved.

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Blaine had two prior DWLS convictions, both of which took place before 1997. The State Attorney’s office treated the recent DWLS as a third offense “with knowledge”, making it a felony. Attorney Garland knew that the Florida Supreme Court had previously held that pre-1997 DWLS convictions could not be used to enhance post-1997 DWLS convictions. Before 1997, “knowledge” was not an element of DWLS. The current DWLS statute requires proof of knowledge to establish a criminal violation. See Thompson v. State, 887 So.2d 1260 (Fla. 2004).

The State Attorney’s office readily agreed to correct the error. Hats off to the St. Lucie County SAO for agreeing to the correction as soon as possible.

Blaine is freed from the felony conviction and the effect it would have on his Tug Boat License. This is an example how post-conviction relief can be quickly obtained. The Motion to Correct Sentencing Error is available when the sentence exceeds the statutory maximum, violates double jeopardy, fails to allow for credit, or fails to reflect the sentence orally pronounced in court. This type of motion can often be presented quickly, because there are no disputed issues of fact.

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