State v. Valentine

In State v. Valentine, 208 W. Va. 513, 541 S.E.2d 603 (2000), the Court refused to disturb a criminal conviction even though there was technical noncompliance by the trial court with all the requirements of Rule 11 of the West Virginia Rules of Criminal Procedure. The defendant in Valentine entered a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter. Subsequent to sentencing, the defendant sought to have the guilty plea set aside because the trial court failed to advise him that he could not withdraw his plea should the court impose a sentence in excess of the term proposed in his plea agreement. The Court acknowledged in Valentine that, under Rule 11(e)(2), it is required that "the court shall advise the defendant that if the court does not accept the recommendation or request, the defendant nevertheless has no right to withdraw the plea." In spite of the "mandatory" requirement of Rule 11(e)(2), this Court "refused to exalt form over substance in Rule 11 hearings." Valentine, 208 W. Va. at 517, 541 S.E.2d at 607. In Valentine, the Court concluded that no evidence existed to prove that the defendant was under any false belief that he could withdraw his plea were he to be sentenced to more than the term recommended in the plea agreement. Consequently, we found the technical violation of Rule 11(e)(2) to be with out prejudice.