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State v. White

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

August 2, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
AMBER R. WHITE Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from Municipal Court No. 2018-CRB-5564

          TROY B. DANIELS, Atty. Reg. No. 0084957 and LARHONDA L. CARSON, Atty. Reg. No. 0080273, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellee

          CARL BRYAN, Atty. Reg. No. 0086838, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant


          DONOVAN, J.

         {¶ 1} Amber White appeals from her October 18, 2018 judgment entry of conviction, following a plea of guilty to unlawful restraint. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail, with 60 days suspended, and the court imposed a term of basic supervision for one year. The court ordered White to complete a psychological assessment and any recommended treatment and ordered her trespassed from Grandview Hospital. The court imposed a fine of $200 and suspended $175, leaving a fine of $25, plus court costs. We hereby affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         {¶ 2} White was charged by way of complaint on September 4, 2018, with assault, in violation of R.C. 2903.13(A), a misdemeanor of the first degree. The complaint alleged that White committed the offense on September 3, 2018, by striking and kicking Simon Finley. Finley subsequently obtained a temporary criminal protection order ("CPO") against White, but Finley did not appear at White's September 7, 2018 arraignment and hearing on the CPO, at a September 25, 2018 pretrial, or at the trial/plea hearing scheduled for October 16, 2018. Pursuant to a plea agreement, White pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful restraint on October 16, 2018.

         {¶ 3} At the plea hearing, the prosecutor advised the court that the State was willing to amend the charge to unlawful restraint, a misdemeanor of the third degree, and White pled guilty to that charge. The court advised White that a plea of guilty was a complete admission of guilt. White indicated that no threats or promises were made to induce her plea. The State then recited the following facts: "The incident happened at Grandview Hospital at 405 West Grand Avenue * * * Miss White was in the hospital with a family member. She came into contact with a gentleman by the name of Simon Finley and at one point struck him in the face and then followed him out and continued to strike him resulting in the charges." White acknowledged her understanding of the facts as recited and the possible maximum penalty of 60 days of incarceration and possible maximum fine of $500. The court advised White that she had the right to have her case tried by a judge or jury and to question the witnesses that would testify against her, the right to present evidence on her own behalf and to subpoena witnesses to appear in court, that she did not have to testify on her behalf, and that the State could not force her to do so. Finally, the court informed White that the State would be required to prove each and every element of the offense of unlawful restraint beyond a reasonable doubt.

         {¶ 4} White acknowledged her understanding to the court and entered her plea. The court accepted her plea and found that it was made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently.

         {¶ 5} Counsel for White then advised the court that the complaining witness and White used to be friends. He further explained:

* * * Earlier in the year [Finley] drove her vehicle while drunk and totaled it and he plead out to that OVI because that vehicle was totaled and she didn't have transportation any more. She lost her job. She lost her housing. She was at the hospital because her son just attempted to commit suicide. She saw the complaining witness and it caught her off guard and this incident happened. She shouldn't have - her behavior was unacceptable and that's why she is pleading guilty today but there were things that went along with that. She is getting counseling right now. We have a letter from her therapist so she is doing that. She does work as an STNA. That's why we worked out the unlawful restraint offer so she would not lose her job.

         {¶ 6} The trial court found White guilty and imposed sentence as described above. The trial court granted a stay of execution of White's sentence on December 5, 2018.

         {¶ 7} In her brief, White argues that defense counsel was ineffective for not requesting the case be dismissed when the State failed three times to produce its complaining witness, and White was "thereby prejudiced in so far as she nevertheless pleaded guilty on advice of counsel."[1] She asserts that the trial court would have acted within its discretion to dismiss the case had her counsel made such a request. According to White, "[b]ecause defense counsel failed to make what would have been a reasonable request for a dismissal [she] felt compelled, against her better judgment, to enter a plea."

         {¶ 8} The State responds that White waived this issue for appeal when she entered her guilty plea, and even if it was not waived, the argument is without merit. We agree with the State.

         {¶ 9} "A plea of guilty is a complete admission of guilt." State v. Howard, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 27941, 2018-Ohio-5160, ΒΆ 12. As ...

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