A defendant appealed a decision of the Franklin County Court of Common
Pleas, which denied his motion to withdraw his plea of guilty to the charge
of endangering children (a third degree felony). The defendant maintains
that the court in Franklin County improperly denied his motion to withdraw
the guilty plea.
The defendant was charged with endangering children after it was alleged
heroin to his 15-year-old son. At the time this charge was filed, the defendant
was currently on community control. The defendant was offered a plea bargain,
wherein he would plead guilty to a single charge of endangering children
in exchange for the State’s recommendation that the defendant continue
In most cases handled in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, the
State’s recommendation is generally accepted by the trial court
judge pending the defendant’s acceptance of the plea bargain. In
this case though, although the defendant accepted the plea bargain, the
judge sentenced him to prison.
In this particular case, the judge who accepted the defendant’s guilty
plea was not the same judge who presided over the sentencing hearing.
The new judge concluded that a joint recommendation of community control
was never promised, and decided to sentence him to prison anyway.
The defendant was informed by his counsel of the new judge’s decision
prior to sentencing, so the defendant asked if he could withdraw his guilty
plea, a request that the judge denied, citing Ohio Supreme Court case
State v. Xie, which says, “A defendant does not have an absolute right to withdraw
a guilty plea prior to sentencing. A trial court must conduct a hearing
to determine whether there is a reasonable and legitimate basis for the
withdrawal of the plea.”
The trial court did just that, holding a hearing to determine the legitimacy
of the defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. After that
hearing, the trial court judge still decided to disallow the plea withdrawal.
On appeal, the appellate court’s job was to determine if the trial
court erred in refusing the motion to withdraw the plea by abusing its
discretion in the matter. After deliberation of the facts, the appellate
court sustained the defendant-appellant’s assignment of error, vacated
his conviction, and remanded the case for new proceedings.
The appellate court’s hope is that with a more accurate understanding
of the terms of the original plea bargain, the court will be able to more
accurately evaluate the defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty
plea. You can read the case in full at
State v. Buell, 2016-Ohio-2734.