State v Collins

Collins sought to file a late appeal. The district court denied his motion. The Court of Appeals held that because neither the sentencing court nor Collins’ attorney informed him of the 30 day deadline, Collins was entitled to automatic relief. The Court, 4-1, reversed. The majority  held that in cases where neither the sentencing court or the defense attorney advise the defendant of the 30 day deadline, the defendant must prove that but for the lack of advice he would have appealed. The majority reasoned that Utah case law and Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(f) both require that the defendant be “deprived” of his right to appeal which implicitly requires that defendants prove they lost the right of appeal. The majority held that harmless error analysis applies and independent knowledge of the 30 day period will defeat a claim for late appeal as will proof the defendant would not have appealed anyway. The majority noted this conclusion is consistent with the rule that almost all errors are evaluated for harm and failure to provide the 30 day advice is not structural error requiring automatic reversal. The case was remanded to determine if Collins would have appealed if properly informed. The dissent argued that a defendant who does not know about his right to appeal cannot be penalized for failing to appeal.