In Santos v. State, the Florida Court of Appeals for the Fourth District explains once again that a person facing criminal charges typically only has one opportunity to accept or reject a plea deal and usually won't be able to undo the decision after a conviction.
Santos was arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine in Florida and was convicted on both counts following a trial in March 2008. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Seeking to undo the conviction, Santos later claimed that he didn't know that an alleged co-conspirator, Carlos Aldarondo, would testify against him until a prosecuting attorney mentioned it during her opening argument. Because he wasn't aware of this information prior to trial, Santos claimed that he didn't have an opportunity to fairly evaluate his case. He claimed that his representation at trial was therefore deficient and changed the outcome of the case, arguing that he would have accepted a plea deal offered by the state had he known that it intended to call Aldarondo as a witness.
Affirming the conviction, the Fourth District concluded that Santos's claim that he didn't know Aldarondo would testify was "demonstrably false." Court records showed that the prosecution had listed Aldarondo. Meanwhile, the appeals court said the lead prosecutor told the trial court prior to trial that she had offered Aldarondo a plea deal under which he would have served a mandatory minimum of three years in jail in exchange for pleading guilty on the charges. During voir dire, defense counsel told the trial court that he had presented the deal to Santos, but that Santos rejected it.