Raymond Wells walked out of court thinking he knew his sentence and was probably surprised when he later learned it included more than what the judge told him in the courtroom. There is a common saying in the law that “the court speaks through its entries”. What happens if the judge says one thing in open court but another in the sentence entry? A recent case from the Sixth District Court of Appeals gives us an answer.
The case is State v. Wells. Wells was originally charged with OVI ‘per se’, OVI ‘impaired’, and Marked Lanes. His lawyer negotiated with the prosecutor and reached a plea agreement. According to the plea agreement, the prosecutor would dismiss the charge of Marked Lanes, dismiss one charge of OVI, and amend the other charge of OVI to a charge of Physical Control Under the Influence.
The Judge Told The Defendant The Sentence
Wells appeared before the judge for a plea hearing. The prosecutor did not appear but did provide the judge with a written motion containing the plea agreement. Wells pled guilty to Physical Control, and the judge verbally announced the sentence. The announced sentence was: (1) 33 days in jail with three to be served in a driver intervention program and 30 suspended; and (2) a fine of $375 plus court costs. The judge also made reference to granting driving privileges and imposing a license suspension if the fine weren’t paid.