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Lancaster v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

February 2, 2018

CHARVASEA LANCASTER
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs November 7, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. C-15-65 Donald H. Allen, Judge

         The Petitioner, Charvasea Lancaster, appeals from the Madison County Circuit Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered because his trial counsel was ineffective in explaining the possible sentencing outcomes to him. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Charvasea Lancaster.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Jody S. Pickens, District Attorney General; and Alfred Lynn Earls, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In June 2014, the Petitioner, sixteen years old at the time, entered open guilty pleas to one count of aggravated burglary, one count of burglary, two counts of vehicle burglary, and seven counts of theft of property in various amounts. See State v. Charvasea Rodshun Lancaster, No. W2015-00936-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 6915578, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 22, 2016). The convictions arose out of a crime spree in September and October 2013 during which the Petitioner stole four vehicles, three lawn mowers, an ATV, and a trailer. Id.

         At the plea submission hearing, the trial court explained to the Petitioner that there would be a separate sentencing hearing where the trial court would decide the Petitioner's sentence. The Petitioner stated that he understood this. The trial court reviewed the range of punishments for each offense with the Petitioner, and the Petitioner stated that he understood them. The trial court also explained to the Petitioner that it could order some of his sentences to be served consecutively, and the Petitioner stated that he understood that.

         Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that four of the Petitioner's eleven sentences be served consecutively, for a total effective sentence of twenty-two years. The trial court also imposed over $8, 500 in restitution to the Petitioner's victims. On delayed appeal, this court affirmed the Petitioner's total effective sentence. Lancaster, 2016 WL 6915578, at *4. The Petitioner did not seek permission to appeal to our supreme court.

         The Petitioner timely filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received ineffective assistance of his trial counsel because she had informed him that he would receive a six-year sentence if he pled guilty. At the post-conviction hearing, the Petitioner testified that when he pled guilty, he had no idea he could get a sentence as high as twenty-two years. The Petitioner explained that trial counsel had only discussed with him a possible sentence of "six [years] or probation or something like that."

         However, the Petitioner admitted that trial counsel had discussed "numbers" with him and that she told him that the trial court could sentence him to "whatever [it] want[ed] to give [him]." The Petitioner also admitted that he had confessed to the offenses and that the trial court had reviewed with him the open nature of his plea agreement. The Petitioner further admitted that he thought trial counsel had "fought for [him], " but the Petitioner "felt like [trial counsel] ...


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