This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).








Cornell Quentin Tall, petitioner,





State of Minnesota,




Filed April 9, 2002

Reversed and remanded

Parker, Judge*



Hennepin County District Court

File No. 00007094



John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Susan J. Andrews, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN  55103; and


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas A. Weist, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN  55487 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Parker, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, contending that his plea was not intelligently made because he believed probation and treatment were possible dispositions.  Appellant also challenges the district court’s denial of postconviction relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel, arguing that his attorney did not inform him of his options and failed thoroughly to investigate his case.  We reverse and remand.


The decision of whether to allow withdrawal of a guilty plea is within the sound discretion of the district court and we will reverse only in the rare case of an abuse of discretion.  Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989).  Appellate review of a postconviction order is limited to determining whether sufficient evidence exists to sustain the district court’s findings.  Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 685 (Minn. 1997).

A court must allow a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea if there is proof that “withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.”  Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1.  “A manifest injustice occurs when a guilty plea is not accurate, voluntary and intelligent.”  Alanis v. State, 583 N.W.2d 573, 577 (Minn. 1998) (citation omitted).  For a guilty plea to be intelligent, the defendant must be aware of the direct consequences of pleading guilty.  Id. at 578.

                        A plea is intelligently entered if the defendant understands the charges, understands the rights he is waiving by pleading guilty, and understands the consequences of his plea.


Berkow v. State, 573 N.W.2d 91, 95 (Minn. App. 1997) (quotation omitted), aff’d, 583 N.W.2d 562 (Minn. 1998).  Further, courts should not accept pleas of guilty that were induced by ignorance.  Id.

            Appellant Tall faced a presumptive sentence of 51 months in prison if convicted. The state offered to recommend a sentence of 30 months in exchange for his help with pending cases.  The district court informed him he had three options: take the state’s offer of 30 months, go to trial, or plead guilty without any deals and take a gamble on the sentence he may receive from the court.  The district court said that it was unlikely she would give him probation, but would not rule it out.  He pled guilty, hoping he might receive probation and treatment instead of prison time.  However, due to Tall’s criminal history score, he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 36 months’ imprisonment and was ineligible “for probation * * * until [he had] served the full term of imprisonment,” Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subd. 6 (2000).

            Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.01(10)(b) provided that the court, in accepting a guilty plea, shall advise a defendant of any minimum sentence required by statute, in which case “the court may impose a sentence of imprisonment of not less than” the statutory minimum sentence.  The district court informed Tall he had three options but in reality he only had two.  The district court failed to inform Tall of the statutory minimum sentence in violation of Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.01.[1]  This court cannot determine what Tall would have chosen to do had he known probation was not even an option available to the court.  He may have chosen the state’s offer or gone to trial.  We conclude that his plea was not intelligently made because he was unaware of the statutory consequences of pleading guilty, chiefly what the mandatory minimum sentence would be, and do not agree that the omission of the required information constituted harmless error.  Accordingly, we hold that Tall’s guilty plea was not intelligently made and therefore, under Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1, he must be allowed to withdraw it.

            Because we hold Tall must be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, there is no purpose in addressing the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel.[2]

Reversed and remanded.


* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1]  The district court acknowledged, in the memorandum to her order upon appellant’s motion for postconviction relief, that she had failed to inform Tall that he was facing a nonwaivable, statutory minimum sentence of 36 months’ imprisonment pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.11 but held the omission to be harmless error.

[2]  We note, however, that Tall’s signed plea petition (¶19b) recited that his attorney had told him that “if a minimum sentence is required by statute the court may impose a sentence of imprisonment of not less than 12 months for this crime.”