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Flores-Heredia v. People

Court of Appeals of Colorado

June 5, 2017

Jesus Flores-Heredia, Petitioner
v.
The People of the State of Colorado. Respondent

         C.A.R. 50 Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals Court of Appeals Case No. 14CA1405 Boulder County District Court Case No. 1990CR313 Honorable Patrick Butler, Judge

          Attorneys for Petitioner: The Noble Law Firm, LLC Antony Noble Matthew Fredrickson Lakewood, Colorado

          Attorneys for Respondent: Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General William G. Kozeliski, Assistant Attorney General Denver, Colorado

         En Banc

          EID JUSTICE

         ¶1 Petitioner Jesus Flores-Heredia pled guilty to inducement and conspiracy to sell and possess with intent to sell a schedule II controlled substance, and he received a one-year deferred judgment in 1990. Although he successfully completed the deferred judgment, no court ever ordered his plea withdrawn or the action against him dismissed pursuant to section 18-1.3-102(2), C.R.S. (2016), which provides that, upon "full compliance with [the conditions of a deferred judgment]" the guilty plea previously entered "shall be withdrawn and the charge upon which the judgment and sentence of the court was deferred shall be dismissed with prejudice."

         ¶2 In 2014, Flores-Heredia filed a motion to withdraw his plea pursuant to Crim. P. 32(d), which authorizes "a motion to withdraw a plea of guilty . . . before sentence is imposed or imposition of sentence is suspended." The district court concluded that because no order had been entered withdrawing Flores-Heredia's plea and dismissing the charge under section 18-1.3-102(2), it would enter such an order. It then denied the Rule 32(d) motion, concluding that it could not withdraw the plea because the plea had already been withdrawn. Flores-Heredia filed an appeal, and the court of appeals requested that the case be transferred to this court pursuant to C.A.R. 50(b) and section 13-4-109(1)(a)-(c), C.R.S. (2016). We accepted jurisdiction from the court of appeals, and now affirm the judgment of the district court.

         ¶3 First, we hold that although no court entered an order withdrawing Flores- Heredia's plea and dismissing the charges against him when he successfully completed the terms of his deferred judgment, the withdrawal and dismissal occurred by operation of law under our decision in People v. Carbajal, 198 P.3d 102, 107 (Colo. 2008). Further, for the reasons more fully articulated in People v. Corrales-Castro, 2017 CO 60, __ P.3d__, the lead case we decide today, [1] we conclude that the plain language of Crim. P. 32(d) requires that a "plea" exist in order for it to be "withdraw[n]." Therefore, there is nothing in the Rule that would authorize a district court to withdraw an already-withdrawn plea. Because Flores-Heredia's plea had already been withdrawn and the case dismissed pursuant to section 18-1.3-102(2) by operation of law, there was no plea to be withdrawn pursuant to Rule 32(d). Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

         I.

         ¶4 In April 1990, Flores-Heredia pled guilty to inducement and conspiracy to sell and possess with intent to sell a schedule II controlled substance, and he received a one-year deferred judgment.

         ¶5 In March 2014, Flores-Heredia filed a motion to withdraw his plea pursuant to Crim. P. 32(d), alleging ineffective assistance of counsel.

         ¶6 The district court, after a hearing, noted the peculiar circumstances of this case.More specifically, the district court concluded that a court never ordered Flores-Heredia's plea withdrawn and his case dismissed upon successful completion of the deferred judgment. The district court, apparently uncertain about its authority to rule on the matter under such circumstances more than twenty years later, ordered that, "to the extent that this Court does have jurisdiction over the matter, and any action is required by the Court to withdraw Defendant's guilty plea and dismiss the charges, it is so withdrawn and the charges are dismissed with prejudice pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-1.3-102." The court proceeded to deny Flores-Heredia's motion under Crim. P. 32(d), reasoning that there was no plea to be withdrawn. Flores-Heredia appealed, and the court of appeals transferred the case to us pursuant to section 13-4-109(1)(a)-(c) and C.A.R. 50(b). We accepted jurisdiction.

         II.

         ¶7 Flores-Heredia first argues that because no court had ordered his plea withdrawn upon completion of his deferred judgment, his plea was never withdrawn, and therefore a plea existed that could be withdrawn under Rule 32(d). In the alternative, he argues that even if the plea was withdrawn by operation of ...


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