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State v. Donaldson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

October 26, 2007

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee.
v.
DARRELL DONALDSON Defendant-Appellant.

(Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court) T.C. CASE NO. 06CR066

Stephen K. Haller, Pros. Attorney; Elizabeth A. Ellis, Atty. Reg. No.0074332, Asst. Pros. Attorney, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

Bahjat M. Abdallah, Atty. Reg. No.0078504, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.

OPINION

GRADY, J.

{¶ 1} Defendant, Darrell Donaldson, appeals from his conviction and sentence for domestic violence.

{¶ 2} During an argument between Defendant and his wife at their home, Defendant grabbed his wife by the neck, choked her, and threw her down on the bed. As a result, Defendant was indicted on one count of domestic violence, R.C. 2919.25(A), a felony of the fourth degree because of Defendant's previous conviction for that same offense. As part of a plea bargain, Defendant entered a plea of guilty to the domestic violence charge in exchange for the State's recommendation of community control with mandatory treatment or, in the alternative, an eleven month prison sentence.

{¶ 3} Prior to being sentenced Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Defendant claimed that because his father had recently passed away, and because shortly before he came to court to enter his guilty plea he was served with divorce papers, temporary protection orders, and told he was going to be arrested on an outstanding capias, he was distracted and not in a stable frame of mind at the time he entered his plea, and therefore his guilty plea was not knowing, intelligent and voluntary. Following a hearing the trial court overruled Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, finding that Defendant had not demonstrated a reasonable and legitimate basis for the withdrawal. The trial court sentenced Defendant to eleven months in prison.

{¶ 4} Defendant timely appealed to this court, challenging the trial court's decision denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

{¶ 5} "THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING MR. DONALDSON'S MOTION TO WITHDRAW HIS PLEA."

{¶ 6} A defendant's motion to withdraw a guilty plea, made before sentencing, should be freely and liberally granted, provided the movant demonstrates a reasonable and legitimate basis for the withdrawal. State v. Xie (1992), 62 Ohio St.3d 521. However, a defendant does not have an absolute right to withdraw his plea prior to sentencing. Id. A trial court must hold a hearing on the motion to determine if a reasonable and legitimate basis exists for the withdrawal. Id. The decision whether to grant or deny a presentence request to withdraw a guilty plea is a matter resting within the trial court's sound discretion. Id. Such decisions will not be disturbed on appeal absent a showing that the trial court abused its discretion; that is, acted in an unreasonable, arbitrary, unconscionable manner. Id.

{¶ 7} No abuse of discretion in denying a pre-sentence motion to withdraw a guilty plea is demonstrated where: (1) the accused is represented by highly competent counsel, (2) the accused was afforded a full hearing, pursuant to Crim.R. 11, before entering the plea, (3) after the motion to withdraw is filed the accused is given a complete and impartial hearing on the motion, and (4) the record reveals that the trial court gave full and fair consideration to the plea withdrawal request. State v. Peterseim (1980), 68 Ohio App.2d 211. A "change of heart" is not sufficient justification to permit withdrawal of a guilty plea. State v. Lambrose (1988), 44 Ohio App.3d 102; State v. Landis (Dec. 6, 1995), Montgomery App. No. 15099.

{¶ 8} In State v. Askew, Montgomery App. No. 20110, 2005-Ohio-4026, at ¶ 10-11, this court noted that in conducting the hearing on the motion to withdraw the plea the trial court may consider:

{ΒΆ 9} "(1) whether the state will be prejudiced by withdrawal; (2) the representation afforded to the defendant by counsel; (3) the extent of the Crim.R. 11 plea hearing; (4) the extent of the hearing on the motion to withdraw, * * * [5] whether the timing of the motion was reasonable; [6] the reasons for the motion; [7] whether the defendant understood the nature of the charges and potential ...


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