This case is before the Court for review of a question of Florida law certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that is determinative of a cause pending in that court and for which there appears to be no controlling precedent. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(6), Fla. Const. In United States v. Clarke, 780 F.3d 1131 (11th Cir. 2015), the court certified the following question to this Court:
WOW!Florida law prohibits a person from “own[ing] or . . . hav[ing] in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm . . . if that person has been . . . [c]onvicted of a felony in the courts of [Florida].” Fla. Stat. § 790.23(1). For purposes of that statute, does a guilty plea for a felony for which adjudication was withheld qualify as a “convict[ion]”?Id. at 1133. Section 790.23(1)(a), Florida Statutes (2008), in pertinent part, makes it a criminal offense for a person to own or have in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm if that person has been convicted of a felony in the courts of this state.1 Thus, this Court is asked by the Eleventh Circuit to determine if, under Florida law, a person is “convicted” for purposes of that statute if the person has entered a plea of guilty to a felony offense but adjudication for that offense has been withheld. For the reasons that we explain, we answer the certified question in the negative and hold that for purposes of section 790.23(1)(a), a guilty plea for a felony for which adjudication was withheld does not qualify as a “conviction” under that statute.