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STATE OF LOUISIANA V. PATRICIA A. MEADOWS
Case Number: 16-KA-55
Judge: Jude G. Gravois, Robert A. Chaisson, and Robert M. Murphy
Court: FIFTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEAL STATE OF LOUISIANA
Plaintiff's Attorney: n
Paul D. Connick, Jr.
Terry M. Boudreaux
Defendant's Attorney: n
Bruce G. Whittaker
Description: Because defendant‟s convictions were the result of guilty pleas, the facts
underlying the crimes of conviction are not fully developed in the record. Thus,
the facts were gleaned from the factual basis for the offenses provided by the State
at the guilty plea proceeding.
The State submitted that if it had proceeded to trial, it would have proven
beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant, on November 22, 2014, while in the
Parish of Jefferson, “violated Louisiana Revised Statute 14:64 in that she did rob
the Smoothie King while armed with a dangerous weapon”—a knife. The State
further asserted that it would have also proven beyond a reasonable doubt that on
that same date, while in the Parish of Jefferson, defendant violated La. R.S. 14:27
and 14:64 “in that she did attempt to rob Planet Beach while armed with a
dangerous weapon”—a knife. Lastly, the State maintained that it would have
proven beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant committed four counts of
forgery, in violation of La. R.S. 14:72. Specifically, with respect to count three,
the State argued it would have proven that between October 20, 2014 and October
21, 2014, while in the Parish of Jefferson, defendant violated La. R.S. 14:728 in
that she did “issue, transfer, possess with the intent to defraud a forged writing
known by Patricia Meadows to be forged.” Furthermore, with respect to counts
four, five, and six, the State argued that it would have proven beyond a reasonable
doubt that between May 11, 2005 and June 14, 2014, defendant “violated
Louisiana Revised Statute 14:72 three times while in the Parish of Jefferson in that
she did issue, transfer, or possess with the intent to defraud a forged check for Tri
City Body Shop. Those check numbers were Check Number 5215, Check Number
5219, and Check Number 5216.”
ERRORS PATENT REVIEW
Initially, upon our errors patent review, we have noticed errors patent on the
face of the record concerning 1) the purported sentences defendant received on
8 The transcript reflects the incorrect statute (La. R.S. 14:62) was referenced with respect to this count of forgery. It appears that the State either misspoke or there is a typographical error in the transcript. La. R.S. 14:62 relates to the crime of simple burglary and does not match the forgery description provided by the State in reference to the charged offense. Further, the correct statute—La. R.S. 14:72—is charged in the bill of information with respect to count three.
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counts three, four, five, and six; and 2) the lack of imposition of an enhanced
sentence on count two under La. R.S. 15:529.1.
First, the record is unclear as to whether defendant received separate,
individual sentences on counts three, four, five, and six, respectively. The
transcript reflects that the trial court stated: “On Counts 3 through 6, you‟re
sentenced as follows: You‟re sentenced to 10 years with the Department of
Corrections. We order that you receive credit for time served while awaiting trial
in this matter. This sentence runs concurrent with all other counts filed herein ….”
Thus, it is unclear as to whether defendant was sentenced to 10 years on each of
the four counts of forgery, or 10 years total on all four counts. Defendant‟s
convictions of four counts of forgery require the imposition of four separate
sentences. See State v. Soco, 94-1099 (La. App. 1 Cir. 6/23/95), 657 So.2d 603.
Further, it is well settled that a defendant can appeal from a final judgment of
conviction only where sentence has actually been imposed. La. C.Cr.P. art.
912(C)(1); State v. Chapman, 471 So.2d 716 (La. 1985) (per curiam). Thus, based
on the transcript, we find defendant‟s sentences on counts three, four, five, and six
to be indeterminate. Defendant‟s appeal of her convictions and sentences on
counts three, four, five, and six is thus not properly before this Court at the present
Second, the record reflects that the trial court failed to actually impose an
enhanced sentence on count two under La. R.S. 15:529.1. The transcript indicates
that after defendant was advised of her habitual offender rights, the following
discussion took place:
THE COURT: Oh, okay. And you had left out the amount of the sentence. Is it 25 years that she‟s agreeing to or y‟all agreed to the 24.75?
THE STATE: 24.75, Your Honor.
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THE COURT: Okay. And that you will be sentenced to incarceration for 24.75 years with the Department of Corrections, that this entire sentence is without benefits of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Have you been coerced or forced into entering this plea?
DEFENDANT: No, sir.
THE COURT: Are you satisfied with the representation by your counsel?
DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: I‟m entirely satisfied that the defendant understands the consequences of her plea, she‟s made a knowing, intelligent, free, and voluntary act of pleading guilty, there‟s a factual basis for the plea. I inform the defendant that she has 30 days from this date to appeal this conviction and two years after the judgment of conviction and sentence become final to seek postconviction relief. Good luck.
(END OF PROCEEDINGS)
Thus, according to the transcript, defendant was advised by the trial court of what
her enhanced sentence would be; however, after accepting defendant‟s stipulation
to the habitual offender bill of information as knowing, intelligent, free, and
voluntary, the trial court failed to actually sentence defendant to her enhanced
sentence of 24.75 years as a second felony offender on count two.9 Defendant‟s
appeal of her adjudication as a habitual offender under La. R.S. 15:529.1 is thus
not properly before this Court at the present time.
Thus, in light these errors patent on the face of the record, we vacate the
indeterminate sentences imposed by the trial court on counts three, four, five, and
six, and remand the matter to the trial court for resentencing on counts three, four,
five, and six, and for imposition of an enhanced sentence on count two under La.
9 Moreover, although the commitment reflects that an enhanced sentence was imposed, where there is a discrepancy between the minutes and the transcript, the transcript prevails. State v. Lynch, 441 So.2d 732, 734 (La. 1983). 10 We note that prior to imposing an enhanced sentence on count two under La. R.S. 15:529.1, the trial court will be required to vacate the underlying sentence on count two.
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ANALYSIS OF CONVICTIONS AND SENTENCES ON COUNTS ONE AND TWO
Under the procedure adopted by this Court in State v. Bradford, 95-929 (La.
App. 5 Cir. 6/25/96), 676 So.2d 1108, 1110-11,11 appointed appellate counsel has
filed a brief asserting that he has thoroughly reviewed the trial court record and
cannot find any non-frivolous issues to raise on appeal. Accordingly, pursuant to
Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967) and
State v. Jyles, 96-2669 (La. 12/12/97), 704 So.2d 241 (per curiam), appointed
appellate counsel requests permission to withdraw as counsel of record for
In Anders, supra, the United States Supreme Court stated that appointed
appellate counsel may request permission to withdraw as counsel of record for
defendant if he finds his case to be wholly frivolous after a conscientious
examination of it.12 The request must be accompanied by “„a brief referring to
anything in the record that might arguably support the appeal‟” so as to provide the
reviewing court “with a basis for determining whether appointed counsel have
fully performed their duty to support their clients‟ appeals to the best of their
ability” and to assist the reviewing court “in making the critical determination
whether the appeal is indeed so frivolous that counsel should be permitted to
withdraw.” McCoy v. Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, Dist. 1, 486 U.S. 429, 439,
108 S.Ct. 1895, 1902, 100 L.Ed.2d 440 (1988) (quotation omitted).
In Jyles, 704 So.2d at 241, the Louisiana Supreme Court stated that an
Anders brief need not tediously catalog every meritless pretrial motion or objection
made at trial with a detailed explanation of why the motions or objections lack
merit. The court explained that an Anders brief must demonstrate by full
11 In Bradford, supra, this Court adopted the procedures outlined in State v. Benjamin, 573 So.2d 528, 530 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1990), which were sanctioned by the Louisiana Supreme Court in State v. Mouton, 95-0981 (La. 4/28/95), 653 So.2d 1176, 1177 (per curiam). 12 The United States Supreme Court reiterated Anders in Smith v. Robbins, 528 U.S. 259, 120 S.Ct. 746, 145 L.Ed.2d 756 (2000).
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discussion and analysis that appellate counsel “has cast an advocate‟s eye over the
trial record and considered whether any ruling made by the trial court, subject to
the contemporaneous objection rule, had a significant, adverse impact on shaping
the evidence presented to the jury for its consideration.” Id.
When conducting a review for compliance with Anders, an appellate court
must conduct an independent review of the record to determine whether the appeal
is wholly frivolous. Bradford, 676 So.2d at 1110. If, after an independent review,
the reviewing court determines there are no non-frivolous issues for appeal, it may
grant counsel‟s motion to withdraw and affirm the defendant‟s conviction and
sentence. However, if the court finds any legal point arguable on the merits, it may
either deny the motion and order the court-appointed attorney to file a brief arguing
the legal point(s) identified by the court, or grant the motion and appoint substitute
appellant counsel. Id.
In the present case, defendant‟s appellate counsel asserts that after a detailed
review of the record, he could find no non-frivolous issues to raise on appeal.
Appellate counsel asserts that defendant entered an unqualified guilty plea to both
the original charging document and to the habitual offender pleading, waiving all
non-jurisdictional defects. He further notes that while defendant in her application
for post-conviction relief contends that her pleas are constitutionally infirm due to
errors in the prosecutor‟s recitation of facts, defendant has waived her right to seek
review of this claim on appeal because she entered an unqualified guilty plea, and
failed to object to the charged offenses listed by the State during the plea
proceedings. Appellate counsel also maintains that although it appears defendant
was erroneously advised as to the potential maximum sentence available on the
habitual offender bill filed on count two, there is no indication that this error
violated due process, rendered her pleas involuntary, or was in any way
meaningful in the plea bargaining process. He also avers that although the
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transcript does not indicate defendant‟s original sentence on count two was vacated
prior to imposing the enhanced sentence, the minute entry/commitment makes
clear that the original sentence on count two was vacated, eliminating any
confusion as to the terms of defendant‟s confinement. Finally, appellate counsel
asserts that there does not appear to be anything in the record to support a claim
that defendant‟s pleas were not knowing and intelligent. He concludes that
defendant‟s plea bargain appears to have been advantageous to defendant and that
the sentences were imposed in accordance with the plea agreement.
Appellate counsel has also filed a motion to withdraw as counsel of record
for defendant which states that an appeal would be wholly frivolous for the reasons
stated in the accompanying brief. He further submits that a copy of his motion to
withdraw, accompanying Anders brief, and a Pro Se Briefing Notice have been
mailed to defendant. Additionally, this Court sent defendant a letter by certified
mail informing her that an Anders brief had been filed on her behalf and that she
had until November 16, 2016, to file a pro se supplemental brief. On November 7,
2016, this Court granted defendant‟s motion for an extension of time within which
to file a supplemental brief, ordering therein that defendant had until December 7,
2016 to file a pro se supplemental brief. After one additional extension, a final
extension was granted ordering that defendant had until February 3, 2017 to file a
pro se supplemental brief in this matter. On January 30, 2017, defendant filed a
pro se supplemental brief in this matter raising two assignments of error.
The State responds that appellate counsel has shown a conscientious and
thorough review of the procedural history of the case with references to the record.
The State agrees that appellate counsel has “cast an advocate‟s eye” over the
record and has correctly determined there are no non-frivolous issues to raise on
appeal. Accordingly, the State concludes that appellate counsel has conformed
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with and followed the procedures set forth in Anders and Jyles, supra, and should
be granted permission to withdraw.
An independent review of the record supports appellate counsel‟s assertion
that there are no non-frivolous issues to be raised on appeal as to counts one and
The bill of information properly charged defendant and plainly and
concisely stated the essential facts constituting the charged offenses. It also
sufficiently identified defendant and the crimes charged. See generally La. C.Cr.P.
As reflected by the minute entries and commitment, defendant appeared at
each stage of the proceedings against her. She attended her arraignment, her guilty
plea proceeding, her sentencing, and her habitual offender bill proceeding. As
such, defendant‟s presence does not appear to present any issues that would
support an appeal.
Further, defendant pled guilty as charged to armed robbery (count one) and
attempted armed robbery (count two). If a defendant pleads guilty, he normally
waives all non-jurisdictional defects in the proceedings leading up to the guilty
plea, and precludes review of such defects either by appeal or post-conviction
relief. State v. Wingerter, 05-697 (La. App. 5 Cir. 3/14/06), 926 So.2d 662, 664.
An unconditional plea, willingly and knowingly made, waives any and all non
jurisdictional defects and bars a defendant from later asserting on appeal that the
State failed to produce sufficient proof at the habitual offender hearing. State v.
Schaefer, 97-465 (La. App. 5 Cir. 11/25/97), 704 So.2d 300, 304.
The record also indicates that defendant filed a pre-trial motion to sever offenses
for trial, which was granted by the trial court. There were no other pre-trial
motions filed, ruled upon, or preserved for appeal under the holding in State v.
Crosby, 338 So.2d 584 (La. 1976).
16-KA-553 C/W 16-KP-628 10
Additionally, a review of the record reveals no irregularities in defendant‟s
guilty pleas as to counts one and two. Once a defendant is sentenced, only those
guilty pleas that are constitutionally infirm may be withdrawn by appeal or post
conviction relief. A guilty plea is constitutionally infirm if it is not entered freely
and voluntarily, if the Boykin colloquy is inadequate, or when a defendant is
induced to enter the plea by a plea bargain or what he justifiably believes was a
plea bargain and that bargain is not kept. State v. McCoil, 05-658 (La. App. 5 Cir.
2/27/06), 924 So.2d 1120, 1124. In such a case, the defendant has been denied due
process of law in that the plea was not given freely and knowingly. State v. Dixon,
449 So.2d 463, 464 (La. 1984).
The record shows that defendant was aware that she was pleading guilty to
one count of armed robbery in violation of La. R.S. 14:64 (count one), and one
count of attempted armed robbery in violation of La. R.S. 14:27 and 14:64 (count
two). Defendant was also properly advised of her Boykin rights. On the waiver of
rights form and during the colloquy with the trial judge, defendant was advised of
her right to a judge or jury trial, her right to confrontation, and her privilege against
self-incrimination. On the waiver of rights form, defendant made an affirmative
notation next to these rights and placed her signature at the end of the form,
indicating that she understood she was waiving these rights by pleading guilty.
During the colloquy with the trial judge, defendant also indicated that she
understood that she was waiving these rights.
Defendant admitted that she committed the charged offenses. Defendant
indicated that she understood the possible legal consequences of pleading guilty
and confirmed that she had not been forced, coerced, or intimidated into entering
her guilty pleas. Defendant was also informed that her guilty pleas could be used
to enhance a penalty for any future conviction. Further, defendant was informed
during the colloquy and by means of the waiver of rights form of the sentencing
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ranges for the offenses as well as the actual penalties that would be imposed upon
acceptance of her guilty pleas. After his colloquy with defendant, the trial judge
accepted defendant‟s guilty pleas as knowingly, intelligently, freely, and
Lastly, defendant‟s sentences on counts one and two do not appear to present
issues for appeal. Her sentence on count one falls within the sentencing ranges
prescribed by statute. See La. R.S. 14:64.13 Her sentence on count two falls within
the sentencing ranges prescribed by statute. See La. R.S. 14:2714 and 14:64.
Further, defendant‟s sentences on counts one and two were imposed pursuant to,
and in conformity with the plea agreements. La. C.Cr.P. art. 881.2(A)(2) precludes
a defendant from seeking review of her sentence imposed in conformity with a plea
agreement, which was set forth in the record at the time of the plea. State v.
Moore, 06-875 (La. App. 5 Cir. 4/11/07), 958 So.2d 36, 46; State v. Washington,
05-211 (La. App. 5 Cir. 10/6/05), 916 So.2d 1171, 1173.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant‟s convictions and sentences on counts
one and two are affirmed.
Further, because appellate counsel‟s brief adequately demonstrates by full
discussion and analysis that he has reviewed the trial court proceedings and cannot
identify any basis for a non-frivolous appeal and an independent review of the
record supports counsel‟s assertion, we hereby grant appellate counsel‟s motion to
withdraw as counsel of record for defendant.
13 At the time the offenses were committed, a conviction under La. R.S. 14:64 carried a term of imprisonment at hard labor for not less than ten nor more than ninety-nine years without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. 14 La. R.S. 14:27 provides, in pertinent part: D. Whoever attempts to commit any crime shall be punished as follows: * * * (3) In all other cases he shall be fined or imprisoned or both, in the same manner as for the offense attempted; such fine or imprisonment shall not exceed one-half of the largest fine, or one-half of the longest term of imprisonment prescribed for the offense so attempted, or both.
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PRO SE ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NUMBER ONE
In her first pro se assignment of error, defendant argues that her guilty pleas
are constitutionally infirm having not been entered freely and voluntarily. She
alleges two grounds in support of her claim: 1) that the State and the trial court
failed to articulate the essential elements of the charged offenses; and 2) that she
was misinformed of the mandatory minimum and maximum sentencing range as a
second felony offender on her conviction for attempted armed robbery (count two).
Accordingly, defendant avers that based on these deficiencies, she did not enter
into her guilty pleas intelligently and knowingly.
To the extent defendant is arguing about an inadequate factual basis given
for her guilty pleas as to counts one and two, it is well established that under both
state and federal jurisprudence, an unqualified plea of guilty waives all non
jurisdictional defects occurring prior thereto, and precludes review of such defects
by appeal. State v. Johnson, 08-449 (La. App. 5 Cir. 12/16/08), 3 So.3d 17, 19,
writ denied, 09-0787 (La. 12/18/09), 23 So.3d 932. In the present case, defendant
entered unqualified guilty pleas as to counts one and two, waiving all non
jurisdictional defects. Defendant neither objected to the factual basis for the
charged offenses on counts one and two given by the State during the plea
proceedings, nor to the trial court‟s acceptance of it. Therefore, defendant waived
her right to now seek review of this claim on appeal.
Moreover, the trial court was not required to ascertain a factual basis before
accepting the guilty pleas as to counts one and two.15 When a guilty plea is
otherwise voluntary, there is no necessity to ascertain a factual basis for that plea
unless the accused protests his innocence or for some other reason the trial court is
put on notice that there is a need for such an inquiry. Only in that event does due
process require a judicial finding of significant factual basis for the defendant‟s
15 Notably, defendant did not enter her guilty pleas pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 30, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970), which would have required a factual basis to support the pleas.
16-KA-553 C/W 16-KP-628 13
plea. State v. Smith, 09-769 (La. App. 5 Cir. 3/9/10), 38 So.3d 894, 896 n.1, writ
denied, 10-843 (La. 11/5/10), 50 So.3d 812; State v. Yates, 41,247 (La. App. 2 Cir.
9/27/06), 940 So.2d 147, 150-151; State v. Brooks, 38,963 (La. App. 2 Cir.
9/22/04), 882 So.2d 724, 730, writ denied, 04-2634 (La. 2/18/05), 896 So.2d 30.
Here, defendant was represented by counsel, entered unqualified pleas of
guilty as to counts one and two, and at no point in the proceedings did she proclaim
her innocence. Defendant admitted that she committed the charged offenses as to
counts one and two, and indicated that she understood the consequences of
pleading guilty to counts one and two. Based on a review of the record, we find
that the trial court was not required to ascertain a factual basis before accepting
defendant‟s guilty pleas to counts one and two.
Moreover, to the extent defendant is also arguing that the trial court failed to
personally inform her of the “essential elements” of the charged offenses as to
counts one and two, her argument is misplaced. La. C.Cr.P. art. 556.1 outlines the
duty of the court when accepting a plea of guilty in felony cases, providing, in
pertinent part, the following:
A. In a felony case, the court shall not accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere without first addressing the defendant personally in open court and informing him of, and determining that he understands, all of the following:
(1) The nature of the charge to which the plea is offered, the mandatory minimum penalty provided by law, if any, and the maximum possible penalty provided by law.
La. C.Cr.P. art. 556.1(A)(1). (Emphasis added.)
Further, in State v. Respert, 14-769 (La. App. 5 Cir. 2/25/15), 168 So.3d
839, 845, writ denied, 15-604 (La. 1/25/16), 184 So.3d 1288, this Court stated the
The test for the validity of a guilty plea does not depend on whether the trial court specifically informed the defendant of every element of the offense. Rather, the defendant must establish that he lacked awareness of the essential nature of the offense to which he was pleading. Violations of Article 556.1 that do not rise to the level of
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Boykin violations are subject to harmless error analysis. To determine whether a violation of Article 556.1 is harmless, the proper inquiry is whether the defendant‟s knowledge and comprehension of the full and correct information would have likely affected his willingness to plead guilty.
Respert, supra (citing State v. Wilson, 12-819 (La. App. 5 Cir. 5/16/13), 118 So.3d
Subsection E of La. C.Cr.P. art. 556.1 further provides that “[a]ny variance
from the procedures required by this Article which does not affect substantial
rights of the accused shall not invalidate the plea.” The failure to fully comply
with Article 556.1 is a statutory breach, rather than a constitutional breach, and
thus, the defendant is required to show prejudice as a result of the error. Respert,
supra (citing Wilson, supra).
In the present case, defendant acknowledged that she understood the nature
of the charges against her as to counts one and two. The State provided a detailed
factual basis for the charged offenses as to counts one and two, and defendant
admitted to having committed the offenses as to counts one and two as described
by the State. Having found defendant to be aware of the nature of the crimes as to
counts one and two to which she was pleading guilty, the trial court found a factual
basis for the pleas and accepted her pleas of guilty to counts one and two as
knowing and intelligent. The transcript also reflects defendant never asked any
questions regarding the nature of the charges as to counts one and two during the
plea colloquy or made any indication that she did not understand the nature of the
charges or any of the elements.
Therefore, we find that defendant has failed to establish that she lacked
awareness of the elements or that this unawareness resulted in her
miscomprehension of the essential nature of the offenses as to counts one and two
to which she pled. Further, we find that the record does not show sufficient
prejudice to support defendant‟s claim. See Respert, 168 So.3d at 846; Wilson, 118
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So.3d at 1179. Accordingly, defendant‟s first argument in this assignment of error
is without merit.
As noted above, in this assignment of error, defendant also argues that she
was misinformed of the mandatory minimum and maximum sentencing range as a
second felony offender on her conviction for attempted armed robbery (count two),
and thus, based on this deficiency, she argues that she did not enter into her guilty
pleas intelligently and knowingly. However, considering our finding in our error‟s
patent review regarding defendant‟s enhanced sentence—that the trial court failed
to actually impose an enhanced sentence on count two—and the fact that the matter
is being remanded for imposition of an enhanced sentence on count two under La.
R.S. 15:529.1, we pretermit any review of defendant‟s argument in this assignment
of error regarding her enhanced sentence.
PRO SE ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NUMBER TWO
In her final pro se assignment of error, defendant contends her counsel was
ineffective based on the alleged errors raised in defendant‟s first pro se assignment
of error. Namely, defendant asserts that her counsel was ineffective for allowing
her to plead guilty without the State or the judge having first explained the
elements of the charged offenses, and for misinforming the court regarding the
mandatory maximum sentence she would be exposed to as a second felony
offender for her attempted armed robbery conviction.16 Accordingly, she prays that
this Court allow her to withdraw her guilty pleas, or order an evidentiary/
contradictory hearing to allow for further development of her ineffective assistance
of counsel claim.
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 13
of the Louisiana Constitution safeguard a defendant‟s right to effective assistance
16 As previously noted, considering our finding in our error‟s patent review regarding defendant‟s enhanced sentence—that the trial court failed to actually impose an enhanced sentence on count two—and the fact that the matter is being remanded for imposition of an enhanced sentence on count two under La. R.S. 15:529.1, we pretermit any review of defendant‟s argument in this assignment of error regarding her enhanced sentence.
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of trial counsel. According to the United States Supreme Court‟s opinion in
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984), a
defendant asserting an ineffective assistance claim must show: 1) that defense
counsel‟s performance was deficient; and 2) that the deficiency prejudiced the
defendant. The defendant has the burden of showing that “there is a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel‟s unprofessional errors, the results of the
proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability
sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694,
104 S.Ct. at 2068.
Generally, an ineffective assistance of counsel claim is most appropriately
addressed through an application for post-conviction relief filed in the district
court, where a full evidentiary hearing can be conducted, rather than by direct
appeal. State v. Taylor, 04-346 (La. App. 5 Cir. 10/26/04), 887 So.2d 589, 595.
When the record contains sufficient evidence to rule on the merits of the claim and
the issue is properly raised in an assignment of error on appeal, it may be
addressed in the interest of judicial economy. Id. Where the record does not
contain sufficient evidence to fully explore a claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel, the claim should be relegated to post-conviction proceedings under La.
C.Cr.P. arts. 924-930.8. Taylor, supra.
Upon review, we find that the record in the instant matter contains sufficient
evidence to rule on the merits of defendant‟s claim, and thus, we will address it in
the interest of judicial economy. Defendant‟s contention that her trial counsel was
ineffective for allowing her to plead guilty without the State or the judge having
explained the elements of the charged offenses to her, as described above in
defendant‟s pro se assignment of error number one, lacks merit, and therefore did
not prejudice defendant. Further, defendant‟s plea and stipulation are supported by
the record and appear to be an advantageous consequence of the plea-bargaining
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process. Accordingly, the record is devoid of any indication that defendant has
been prejudiced by an inadequate advisal regarding the nature of the charges to
which she pled guilty; thus, we find that defendant cannot meet the second prong
of the Strickland test. State v. Ott, 12-111 (La. App. 5 Cir. 10/16/12), 102 So.3d
944, 954, writ denied, 15-0230 (La. 11/06/15), 181 So.3d 697. This assignment of
error is without merit.