A sentence has been upheld for a Warren man convicted of domestic violence back in September of 2022.

According to a press release, the three-year prison sentence for 30-year-old Rolfe Pena on a charge of domestic violence was upheld after a 2-1 vote from the appellate court in favor of the trial court.

Pena was convicted in September, but appealed this conviction asking that it and the three-year prison sentence be vacated because the trial court failed to hold a hearing on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

Pena's conviction stems from incidents that occurred on April 28 and June 30 respectively. In one of the incidents, the female victim, who lived with Pena at the time was taken to the hospital after Pena choked her until she passed out. 

Previously, a plea deal was reached with prosecutors where Pena would plead guilty, get a 12-month prison term and the assault charge would be dropped.

Pena was indicted back in May of 2022 on charges of domestic violence and felonious assault. He changed his plea and faced a judge in September for his sentencing.

During this hearing, Pena and Judge Ronald Rice discussed why Pena had violated his orders to have no contact with the victim. During this conversation, Pena's plea deal was rejected and he was instead handed the maximum sentence of three years in prison.

From there, Pena's attorney made a motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

The question the appellate court decided was whether the motion was made before or after the sentence. Two out of three judges ruled that when Judge Rice told Pena his plea deal was rejected, that was evidence that the sentence would not be in his favor.

The judges cited case law that motions to withdraw cannot be made after a sentence is pronounced.

However, one 11th District Judge, John Eklund voted in favor of Pena writing in his opinion that Pena moved to withdraw his guilty plea before the court sentenced him to 36 months.

In November of 2022, Pena received a 12-month prison sentence from another judge in the other domestic violence case. That prison term was to be served at the same times as the sentence imposed by Judge Rice.

Since 2012, Pena has been arrested on four other occasions on domestic violence charges and twice on charges of assault.