This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed September 25, 2001
Reversed and remanded
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 93044715
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Bryan J. Leary, Special Assistant Public Defender, 5115 Excelsior Boulevard, No. 415, St. Louis Park, MN 55416 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Richardson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
The district court amended Tyrone Jones’s criminal-sexual-conduct sentence to include a five-year conditional-release period. Jones moved to withdraw his plea and the district court vacated the order that added the conditional-release period and reinstated Jones's original sentence. Because the sentence without the conditional-release period is not authorized by law, we reverse and remand.
F A C T S
In 1993, Tyrone Jones was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of terroristic threats. In 1996, he entered a negotiated plea of guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in exchange for dismissal of the two remaining counts and with the understanding that he would receive a 120-month sentence, a five-month upward departure from the presumptive guidelines sentence. The district court accepted the plea agreement and, following Jones’s guilty plea, sentenced him to 120 months. The sentence did not include the conditional-release period required for his criminal-sexual-conduct conviction. See Minn. Stat. § 609.346, subd. 5 (1992).
Four years later, the sentencing court ordered that the sentence be amended to include the mandatory five-year conditional-release period that was in effect at the time Jones committed the criminal sexual conduct. In response, Jones petitioned for postconviction relief, claiming that the addition of the five-year conditional-release term violated his plea agreement. Jones requested that he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial.
The district court found that the imposition of the five-year conditional-release period violated the plea agreement. At the state’s suggestion, the district court denied Jones’s request to withdraw his plea and instead vacated the order that imposed the five-year conditional release, thus reinstating the original 120-month sentence without the conditional-release term. Jones appeals from this order, contending that he was improperly denied his requested postconviction relief.
D E C I S I O N
We review decisions of a postconviction court for abuse of discretion. Hale v. State, 566 N.W.2d 923, 926 (Minn. 1997). A post-conviction court's factual findings will be sustained if they are supported by sufficient evidence, but we make an independent determination of the law as it applies to the facts. See Doan v. State, 306 Minn. 89, 91-92, 234 N.W.2d 824, 826-27 (1975) (upholding fact findings supported by evidence, but independently reviewing legal determination based on found facts).
The legislature has the power to define the punishment for crimes. State v. Garcia, 582 N.W.2d 879, 882 (Minn. 1998). When sentencing, courts are the executors of this legislative power and must impose a sentence that complies with the statutory requirements. State v. Osterloh, 275 N.W.2d 578, 580-81 (Minn. 1978). Thus, a sentencing court cannot accept and enforce a plea agreement when the agreement provides for imposition of a sentence that does not comply with statutory requirements. Garcia, 582 N.W.2d at 882.
Jones entered a plea of guilty and was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a conviction that requires a mandatory conditional-release period as part of the sentence. See Minn. Stat. § 609.346, subd. 5 (1992) (now codified as amended at Minn. Stat § 609.109, subd. 7 (Supp. 2001) (substituting term “conditional” release for “supervised” release, but maintaining same requirement for mandatory term)). The supreme court has expressly held that the conditional-release term for the statutorily enumerated offenses is mandatory and nonwaivable. State v. Humes, 581 N.W.2d 317, 320 (Minn. 1998).
In response to Jones’s motion to withdraw his plea, the district court found that: (1) the plea agreement specifically required a 120-month sentence, and (2) neither the plea negotiation nor the sentence included a provision for the mandatory conditional-release period. The court concluded that the addition of the conditional-release period four years later improperly violated Jones’s plea agreement. The district court’s conclusion is consistent with the governing caselaw. See State v. Jumping Eagle, 620 N.W.2d 42 (2000); State v. Brown, 606 N.W. 2d 670 (2000); Garcia, 582 N.W. 2d at 879; Humes, 581 N.W. 2d at 317. But the district court’s action in vacating the conditional-release period and reinstating the original 120-month sentence is not. By reinstating the original sentence, the district court’s order enforces a plea agreement that imposes a sentence not authorized by law. A court cannot uphold—through the remedy of specific performance—a sentence that it had no authority to impose in the first place. Brown, 606 N.W.2d at 674; Garcia, 582 N.W.2d at 882. Because the resulting sentence is not authorized by law, the district court abused its discretion in vacating the mandatory conditional-release period that reinstated the original 120-month sentence.
We reject the state’s argument that Jones has no “standing” to appeal from the order that reinstated his original 120-month sentence because he cannot demonstrate he has been injured. Jones requested that he be allowed to withdraw his plea because the addition of the mandatory conditional-release period violated his plea agreement. The court’s refusal to grant his requested remedy and instead to reinstate a sentence unauthorized by law provides a basis for his appeal to this court.
Therefore, we reverse and remand. On remand and, if necessary a hearing, the sentencing court may either (1) modify Jones’s sentence to include the five-year conditional-release period within the 120-month maximum sentence provided for under the plea agreement and in the court’s sentence; or (2) allow Jones to withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial. Jumping Eagle, 620 N.W.2d at 45. In determining which alternative is appropriate, the district court should take into account any prejudice that the state can show in proceeding to trial eight years after the offense occurred. See id.
Reversed and remanded.