Can Court Accept a Plea Over the Prosecutor's Objection ?
In State v. Warner, 721 So. 2d 767 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998), the Fourth District held--contrary to the holding in State v. Gitto, 731 So. 2d 686 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998)--that a sentence is not per se invalid where the trial court, over the State's objection, advises a defendant regarding what sentence would be imposed pursuant to a plea of guilty, and accepts the defendant's subsequent guilty plea.
The Gitto court held that the trial court's acceptance of a plea over the prosecutor's objection is clear error which requires outright reversal of any sentence entered in reliance on such a plea. 731 So. 2d at 691.
In Warner, the Fourth District refused to reverse the trial court's order on the ground that the court had suggested the sentence which it would impose in response to a plea to the charges, and then, over the state's objection, had imposed that sentence when the defendant later entered a guilty plea.
In so doing, the Warner court "respectfully disagreed" with Gitto "to the extent that it holds that a court can never, over the state's objection, advise a defendant of the sentence it would impose if the defendant pleads guilty to the charges filed by the state." Warner, 721 So. 2d at 769.
The Warner court did agree, however, "with that portion of Gitto which holds that when the state is not a party to a plea agreement, the agreement itself cannot serve as a basis for a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines." Id. n.2.