This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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







Tyree Brownridge, petitioner,





State of Minnesota,




Filed September 24, 2002


Halbrooks, Judge



Ramsey County District Court

File No. K9943971


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Davi E. Axelson, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


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


Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Mark Nathan Lystig, Assistant County Attorney, 50 Kellogg Boulevard West, Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)




            Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Stoneburner, Judge, and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant challenges the denial of his postconviction petition to vacate the remaining portion of his conditional-release term or to withdraw his plea of guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct.  We affirm.


In December 1994, appellant Tyree Brownridge was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and/or a fine of $40,000.  Pursuant to the sentencing guidelines, conviction for this offense results in a presumptive commitment to prison.  Following plea negotiations, appellant agreed to plead guilty to one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd. 1(b) (1992).  The statutory maximum penalty for third-degree criminal sexual conduct is 15 years and/or a fine of $30,000.

The plea petition signed by appellant consists of a form, filled out in handwriting.  After the statement on the form “Specifically, I understand that I have been charged with the crime of” is handwritten “CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT” followed by what looks like “1st” and “3rd” written one on top of the other “DEGREE.”  Appellant acknowledges in the petition that the maximum charge that the court could impose for this crime is imprisonment for 25 years[1] and/or a fine of $30,000.  The numbers are in handwriting.  The plea agreement is handwritten and states:  “PLEAD GUILTY TO AN AMENDED CHARGE OF CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT IN THE 3rd DEGREE, 609.344 SUBD. 1(b).”

The plea agreement and plea were placed on the record on February 22, 1995.  At that hearing, appellant identified the plea petition and acknowledged that he reviewed it with his attorney, understood the rights he was giving up, and that he had discussed the proposed sentence that he could receive for the amended charge under the sentencing guidelines.  Appellant specifically acknowledged that he understood the difference between first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct “is one of both time and whether or not you’re going to be in prison.” 

Q         You understand in the First Degree the presumed sentence would be prison?


A         Yes.


Q         But the charge that you’re pleading guilty to, assuming that you have a criminal history score of zero, that would not be a presumed prison sentence, is that your understanding?


A         Yes.


Q         Other than that, other than understanding of what it is that you’re pleading guilty to, has anyone made any threats or promises to you to get you to plead guilty?


A         No.


Appellant acknowledged that his plea was voluntary and that the signature on the petition is his signature.  Appellant then gave a factual basis for his plea.  The plea was accepted by the court, a presentence investigation was ordered, and sentencing was set for April 19, 1995.  The written amended complaint is dated April 19, 1995, setting out the charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and the statutory maximum penalty for that charge of 15 years in prison and/or a fine of $30,000.  At the sentencing hearing, the court stayed imposition of sentence and placed appellant on probation for ten years with conditions.  The mandatory conditional-release term required pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.346, subd. 5(a) (1992), was not addressed at the plea hearing or the sentencing hearing.

            In connection with an alleged probation violation, the stay of imposition of sentence was vacated by order dated March 13, 1996, and served on May 1, 1996.  Appellant appeared at a revocation hearing on May 8, 1996, and admitted the probation violations.  The district court imposed eight days of jail (the time appellant had been in custody pending the revocation hearing) and reinstated appellant’s probation.

Appellant returned to court on May 30, 1997, based on allegations that he had violated his probation by failing to remain law-abiding, given that he had new convictions of theft and assault in the fifth degree, continued to use drugs, and had left the state without permission.  The probation officer who appeared at the hearing advised the court that the department felt that appellant was not amenable to probation and recommended that his sentence be executed.  Appellant admitted three probation violations, and the court ordered that the original order staying imposition of sentence be vacated in all respects and set aside.  Appellant was sentenced to the custody of the commissioner of corrections for a term of 18 months with custody credit of 216 days.  The mandatory conditional-release term was not imposed at sentencing.

In October 1997, appellant was placed on supervised release.  He was returned to prison in December 1997 after violating a condition of his release.  On March 5, 1998, pursuant to an inquiry from the department of corrections, the court issued an amended warrant of commitment imposing a five-year conditional-release term.  Appellant claims that he learned of the imposition of a conditional-release term from his case worker on March 13, 1998, 45 days before his scheduled release date.

On March 1, 2002, appellant petitioned for postconviction relief, alleging that the addition of the conditional-release term violated his right to due process and that his guilty plea was invalid because he entered it without knowledge of the conditional-release term.  The postconviction court dismissed appellant’s petition.  The court held that a sentence pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.346, subd. 5(a), without a conditional-release term, was an unlawful sentence subject to correction at any time.  The court found that appellant’s guilty plea was knowing and intelligent, noting that the combined duration of appellant’s incarceration, probation, and conditional release is less than the statutory maximum sentence of 15 years.  This appeal follows. 



            We review decisions of a postconviction court under an abuse-of-discretion standard.  Gassler v. State, 590 N.W.2d 769, 771 (Minn. 1999).  But because the interpretation and enforcement of a plea agreement presents an issue of law, it is subject to de novo review.  State v. Brown, 606 N.W.2d 670, 674 (Minn. 2000). 

1.         Imposition of Conditional-Release Term                       


            Appellant contends that his right to due process was violated because he had developed a crystallized expectation of finality in his sentence that did not include the mandatory conditional-release term. 

A sentence pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd. 1(b)(1992), must contain a conditional-release term.  State v. Humes, 581 N.W.2d 317, 319-20 (Minn. 1998) (conditional-release terms of the statute are mandatory and unwaivable).  A sentence pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd. 1(b), lacking a conditional-release term is unauthorized and may be corrected at any time.  State v. Garcia, 582 N.W.2d 879, 881 (Minn. 1998); Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 9 (“The court at any time may correct a sentence not authorized by law.”).  The court may amend a sentence to include a conditional-release term without violating a defendant’s due-process rights because “a sentence does not have the qualities of constitutional finality that attend an acquittal.”  Garcia, 582 N.W.2d at 881 (quoting United States v. DiFrancesco, 449 U.S. 117, 134, 101 S. Ct. 426, 436 (1980)). 

Appellant’s “crystallized expectation of finality” must be reasonable.  State v. Calmes, 632 N.W.2d 641, 649 (Minn. 2001) (holding that appellant’s expectation of finality was not reasonable given supervised and conditional-release statutes and caselaw).  Minnesota courts have analyzed claims of whether an individual has a reasonable “crystallized expectation of finality” in a sentence on a case-by-case basis.  See Calmes, 632 N.W.2d 641; Shern v. State, 635 N.W.2d 96 (Minn. App. 2001).

In Garcia, the supreme court held that defendant lacked a crystallized expectation of finality in his sentence even though the conditional-release term was not mentioned in the plea petition, the plea hearing, or the sentencing hearing.  Garcia, 582 N.W.2d at 880‑81. 

Here, the following series of questions from appellant’s counsel and appellant’s responses occurred at the sentencing hearing:

Q         Let me direct your attention to No. 20 on the second side of this document.  You’re pleading guilty to an amended charge of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Decree under Minnesota Statute 609.344, Subdivision 1(b).  That is your understanding of the plea agreement?


A          Yes.


Q         You understand that you were charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree so this is a reduced charge or amended charge.  Do you understand that?


A          Yes.


Q         And we have discussed what proposed sentence you could receive on the guidelines.  Do you understand that?


A          Yes.


Q         And you understand that the presumed criminal history score of zero, what you are telling us that you have, that the difference between the First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct and the Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct is one of both time and whether or not you’re going to be in prison.  Do you understand that?


A          Yes.


Q         You understand in the First Degree the presumed sentence would be prison?


A          Yes.


Q         But the charge that you’re pleading guilty to, assuming that you have a criminal history score of zero, that would not be a presumed prison sentence, is that your understanding?


A          Yes.


Q         Other than that, other than understanding of what it is that you’re pleading guilty to, has anyone made any threats or promises to you to get you to plead guilty?


A          No.


Q         You’re pleading guilty of your own free will?


A          Yes.


Q         Then I will show you a signature at the bottom of the second side of this document.  Is that your signature?


A          Yes.


Q         You signed it this afternoon?


A          Yes.


Q         When you signed it, was it with the understanding that you’d be asking the Court to accept your plea?


A          Yes.


Appellant bargained for a reduced charge, understanding that the maximum length of sentence was less for the amended charge and that the presumptive disposition would be a stayed sentence.  Because appellant did not bargain for a fixed period of time in his plea negotiations, we are not faced with a case where the addition of the five-year conditional-release term exceeds appellant’s bargained-for sentence.  Appellant got the benefit of his plea bargain—stayed imposition.  Appellant knew about the conditional-release term in 1998 and did nothing for almost four years, indicating that in 1998 he did not have, as he now asserts, a crystallized expectation of the finality of the sentence imposed in 1997.

2.         Withdrawal of Guilty Plea 


A guilty plea shall be withdrawn after sentencing when the defendant demonstrates that “withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.”  Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1.  A manifest injustice exists if the plea is not accurate, voluntary, and intelligent.  Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 688 (Minn. 1997).  The defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a manifest injustice exists warranting the withdrawal of a guilty plea.  Lundin v. State, 430 N.W.2d 675, 679 (Minn. App. 1988), review denied (Minn. Dec. 21, 1988). 

            Appellant argues that he should be allowed to withdraw his plea of guilty because he was unaware that the conditional-release term was a mandatory part of his sentence.  Appellant claims that he expected an 18-month sentence and that he would not have pleaded guilty had he known of the mandatory five-year conditional-release term.

            Appellant relies on State v. Brown,606 N.W.2d 670 (Minn. 2000), for the proposition that defendants must be informed of the direct consequences of guilty pleas prior to entering their pleas.  While Brown states that a defendant must understand the consequences of guilty pleas, the holding of Brown does not support appellant’s position.  Id. at 675.  In Brown, the supreme court held that a corrected sentence imposing a five-year conditional-release term did not invalidate appellant’s guilty plea because appellant understood that he could receive a 172-month sentence, a term greater than his corrected sentence.  Id.  The court held that promise of probation and rehabilitation induced Brown’s plea, not a promise of specified sentence duration.  Id. 

            Appellant’s assertions to the contrary, the facts here are similar to those in Brown.  Appellant acknowledged in the plea petition that the maximum sentence for third-degree criminal sexual conduct was 25 years and the amended complaint issued for the sentencing hearing correctly stated 15 years.  Appellant’s sentence, even with the imposition of the five-year conditional-release term, is far less than the 15-year maximum.  Appellant’s plea agreement did not establish a specific duration for any executed sentence.  Appellant has failed to demonstrate that he suffered a manifest injustice. 

3.         Conditional-Release Hearing

A convicted defendant is entitled to notice and the opportunity to request a hearing prior to a sentence correction adding a conditional-release term.  Shern, 635 N.W.2d at 99.  Whether to grant a hearing is within the discretion of the district court.  Calmes, 632 N.W.2d at 650.  Failure to give a defendant notice of the addition of the conditional-release term is not a prejudicial error, however, if the defendant does not present any facts or circumstances that would make the denial of a hearing an abuse of discretion.  Shern, 635 N.W.2d at 98.  Examples of circumstances that may constitute grounds for a hearing include corrections of sentences that cast doubt on the validity of the plea agreement and disputes regarding the length of the conditional-release term.  Calmes, 632 N.W.2d at 650.

Here, appellant has not presented any grounds that would warrant a hearing.  Other than asserting a “crystallized expectation,” he does not dispute the duration of the conditional-release term.  Appellant has not presented any additional facts that would make denial of a hearing an abuse of discretion.  Consequently, appellant was not prejudiced by the lack of notice and the postconviction court did not err in denying his petition for relief.  Shern, 635 N.W.2d at 99. 

4.         Untimeliness of Postconviction Petition

            Appellant contends that the conditional-release term is invalid because he did not receive legal counsel or a hearing when he was informed of the conditional-release term, thereby depriving him of his right to notice that he could challenge the addition of the conditional-release term.  In support, appellant argues that a postconviction petition cannot be denied solely on the ground that it is untimely and claims that respondent would suffer no prejudice had the postconviction court granted him relief.  Untimeliness, in and of itself, is not sufficient to deny a petition for postconviction relief.  State v. Sykes, 578 N.W.2d 807, 814 (Minn. App. 1988), review denied (Minn. 1998).  Nevertheless, untimeliness is one of many factors a postconviction court may consider in ruling on a petition.  State v. Fox, 474 N.W.2d 821, 826 (Minn. 1991).  The district court properly considered the four-year delay in bringing the petition. 


[1]  There is no explanation in the record for the use of 25 years.  Prior to 1992, that was the maximum penalty for first-degree criminal sexual conduct.