Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waiver of Appeal of Conviction is NOT Necessarily a Waiver of Appeal of Sentence

In a 5-2 decision, the Court of Appeals, in People v Maracle (2012 NY Slip Op 05121 [NY 6/27/12]), held that a waive of the right to appeal a conviction does not necessarily waive the right to appeal the sentence and that under the facts .The Court explained that

While it is evident that defendant waived her right to appeal her conviction, there is no indication in the record that defendant waived the right to appeal the harshness of her sentence. She seeks only the right to appeal the harshness of the sentence that went from one of probation to a maximum sentence of imprisonment on each count of the indictment because she failed to comply with a condition set by the court. The CPL makes clear the distinction between a conviction and a sentence. A "conviction" is defined as "the entry of a plea of guilty to, or verdict of guilty upon, an accusatory instrument other than a felony complaint, or to one or more counts of such instrument" (CPL 1.20 [13]). "Sentence" is defined as "the imposition and entry of a sentence upon conviction" (CPL 1.20 [14]). Both the "conviction" and the "sentence" comprise the "judgment," which is "completed by the imposition and entry of the sentence" (CPL 1.20 [15]). As such, although defendant waived her right to appeal the conviction, she never expressly waived her right to appeal the sentence. Unlike the situation in People v Hidalgo (91 NY2d 733 [1998]), it is not clear that "the trial court engaged in a full and adequate colloquy, and [that] defendant expressly waived her right to appeal without limitation." It is evident from the colloquy that the court, at most, apprised defendant that if she did not pay one half of the restitution by sentencing, there would be no promise as to her sentence and that she would not be able to withdraw her plea - something she is not seeking. There was no mention of defendant not being able to appeal the harshness of her sentence. The most critical error that occurred here, and the one that distinguishes this case from Hidalgo, is that during the plea colloquy in this case, the court did not explain that the appeal waiver would bar defendant from not only challenging the sentence she hoped to receive, i.e., five years probation, but also any sentence that the court would impose in the event defendant failed to meet the court's condition of paying $23,000 by the date of sentencing. It cannot be said that, at the time of her plea colloquy five months before the imposition of sentence, defendant knowingly and intelligently waived her right to appeal a sentence that, at that point, had not yet been declared by the court. In that respect, this case is more analogous to our holding in People v Johnson (14 NY3d 483 [2010]).

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