APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Tulare County. Juliet L. Boccone, Judge. (Super. Ct. Nos. PCF204260A, VCF166696A, and VCF180279).
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dawson, Acting P.J.
CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION
Appellant, Luis Oscar Sanchez, pled no contest to cultivation of marijuana (Health & Saf. Code, § 11358) and admitted allegations that he had a prior conviction within the meaning of the three strikes law (Pen. Code, § 667, subds. (b)-(i)). He also admitted that he violated probation in two other cases. Sanchez was promised a stipulated term of 32 months in exchange for his pleas and admissions. On January 2, 2009, the court sentenced Sanchez to the agreed-upon term ― a total of 32 months for all three cases.
On appeal, Sanchez contends the court erred in its failure to conduct a Marsden*fn1 hearing when he indicated his desire to withdraw his pleas and admissions based on incompetence of defense counsel. We will find merit to this contention and remand the matter for further proceedings.
On May 10, 2008, Lindsay police officers responded to a house to investigate a 911 hang-up call and were told by Sanchez that he dialed 911 accidentally. The officers searched the house to make sure no one there needed assistance. Detecting a strong odor of marijuana in one room, the officers looked in the room's closet and discovered four marijuana plants growing inside.
The Motion to Withdraw Plea
Sanchez entered his plea in this matter on October 28, 2008. On December 2, 2008, the date set for sentencing, Deputy Public Defender Tony Dell'Anno told the court that Sanchez wanted to withdraw his plea. The court then asked whether it needed to appoint conflict counsel. Dell'Anno replied with his understanding that, before conflict counsel was appointed, the court had to find that the public defender's office had not provided Sanchez competent representation. Dell'Anno further stated that, at that point, his office needed to "check out any issues for possible withdraw[a]l ourselves." The court agreed to give Dell'Anno time, stating:
"... I am going to give you till the 9th to let me know whether or not conflict counsel needs to be appointed and at that time you can give me an update as to whether counsel needs to be appointed or that you need to file a motion on his behalf as his representative."
At a hearing on December 9, 2008, a different public defender appeared and the following colloquy occurred:
"[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Luis Sanchez. He is appearing in court and conflict counsel needs to be [ap]pointed.
"THE COURT: We had discussed you were looking into conflict [counsel] needing to be appointed if you wanted to do a motion to withdraw his plea. [¶] Your assessment is that it's necessary, so what I am going to do is ... appoint conflict counsel for ...