DILLARD, C. J., DOYLE, P. J., and MERCIER, J.
a negotiated plea, Rickey Ray Thompkins pled guilty to
aggravated stalking. Pursuant to the negotiated plea, the
remaining charges, burglary in the first degree and arson in
the first degree, were nolle prossed. Thompkins was sentenced
to ten years, to serve five years and the remainder on
probation. Thompkins then filed a motion to withdraw his
guilty plea, which the trial court denied following a
hearing. He appeals, claiming that he received ineffective
assistance of counsel below and as such his motion to
withdraw his guilty plea should have been granted. Finding no
error, we affirm.
to the proffer of evidence presented at the plea hearing,
Thompkins had previously pled guilty to battery against the
victim in June of 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. Following
Thompkins's guilty plea to battery, the victim obtained a
protective order and moved to Georgia. On August 29, 2015,
she made a police report that Thompkins had visited her
workplace and that she had received over two hundred text
messages from Thompkins, in violation of the protective
later, the victim was notified that her home had burned down.
While she was driving to her home she saw Thompkins next to a
disabled vehicle on the opposite side of the interstate, and
reported his presence to the police department. Police
officers arrived at the scene, observed fresh burns on
Thompkins's body, and placed him under arrest.
trial court conducted a plea hearing, at which Thompkins was
represented by counsel. Upon questioning, Thompkins averred
that he understood the charges against him under the
indictment, and that, if found guilty, he could be sentenced
to a maximum of fifty years. The trial court accepted
Thompkins's guilty plea to aggravated stalking and
sentenced him to 10 years.
subsequently filed a pro se motion to withdraw the plea.
After a hearing on the motion, at which Thompkins was
represented by new counsel, the motion was denied.
"After sentencing, a defendant may withdraw a guilty
plea only to correct a manifest injustice, such as where the
defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel, or the
guilty plea was entered involuntarily or without an
understanding of the nature of the charges."
McGuyton v. State, 298 Ga. 351, 353 (1) (a) (782
S.E.2d 21) (2016) (citation and punctuation omitted).
When a criminal defendant seeks to withdraw a guilty plea on
the ground of ineffective assistance of counsel, the
ineffective assistance claim must be evaluated under the
two-prong test set forth in Strickland v.
Washington. In order to prevail on a claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel, appellant must show
counsel's performance was deficient and that the
deficient performance prejudiced him to the point that a
reasonable probability exists that, but for counsel's
errors, the defendant would have elected to proceed to trial
rather than enter a plea. A strong presumption exists that
counsel's conduct falls within the broad range of
Gomez v. State, 300 Ga. 571, 573 (797 S.E.2d 478)
(2017) (citations and punctuation omitted). "A decision
on a motion to withdraw a guilty plea is a matter for the
sound discretion of the trial court and will not be disturbed
absent manifest abuse." McGuyton, supra
Thompkins claims that his counsel was ineffective in failing
to file a special demurrer challenging the date range within
his indictment. Specifically, the indictment charged
Thompkins with committing aggravated stalking "between
the 29th day of August, 2015, and the 27th day of September,
2015, the exact date of the offense being unknown to the
Grand Jury[.]" Thompkins contends that because the State
provided a date at the plea hearing, August 29, 2015, on
which he allegedly contacted the victim at her workplace, the
State could have narrowed the range of dates and thereby his
trial counsel should have filed a special demurrer.
Generally, an indictment which fails to allege a specific
date on which the crime was committed is not perfect in form
and is subject to a timely special demurrer. However, where
the State can show that the evidence does not permit it to
allege a specific date on which the offense occurred, the
State is permitted to allege that the crime occurred between
two particular dates.
State v. Layman, 279 Ga. 340, 340-341 (613 S.E.2d
639) (2005) (footnotes and citations omitted). Here, the
aggravated stalking count on the indictment also states that
Thompkins contacted the victim "by electronic
means." If, as alleged by the State, Thompkins had sent
text messages to the victim over the indicted time period,
the State would likely have been permitted to allege that the
crime occurred between the two dates. See Id.
assuming it was error for Thompkins's counsel to have
failed to file a special demurrer, Thompkins cannot
demonstrate the prejudice ...