This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Michael Moses Rodriguez, petitioner,
State of Minnesota,
Filed March 11, 2003
Reversed and remanded
Stearns County District Court
File No. K7-98-3453
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Jodie L. Carlson, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Roger S. Van Heel, Stearns County Attorney, William S. MacPhail, Assistant Stearns County Attorney, Administration Center, Suite 448, 705 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud, MN 56303-4701 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
Appellant challenges the denial of his postconviction petition to withdraw his guilty plea or to modify his sentence for third-degree criminal sexual conduct, arguing that the addition of a mandatory conditional release term violated his plea agreement. Because we conclude that the addition of the conditional release term increased appellant’s sentence beyond the upper limit of his court-accepted plea agreement, we reverse and remand.
In September 1998, appellant Michael Rodriguez was arrested and charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd. 1(c) (1998). Appellant pleaded guilty with the understanding that the district court would stay execution of the presumptive 78-month sentence. The district court sentenced appellant to 78 months, stayed execution, and placed him on supervised probation for up to 15 years, subject to certain conditions. Although appellant’s conviction required that his sentence include a five-year conditional release term under Minn. Stat. § 609.109, subd. 7(a) (1998), the term was not discussed at either the plea or the sentencing hearings.
In March 2000, appellant admitted that he violated the terms of his probation. The district court revoked his probation, executed the stayed 78-month sentence, and imposed the mandatory five-year conditional release term. Appellant petitioned for postconviction relief, arguing that the addition of the conditional release term violated his plea agreement and that he was entitled to either withdraw his guilty plea or modify his sentence. The postconviction court denied the petition after concluding that appellant was presumed to know that the conditional release term was mandatory and nonwaivable. Appellant challenges the postconviction court’s order denying his petition.
D E C I S I O N
We generally will not reverse a postconviction court’s decision absent an abuse of discretion. Dukes v. State, 621 N.W.2d 246, 251 (Minn. 2001). But the interpretation and enforcement of plea agreements present issues of law, which we review de novo. State v. Jumping Eagle, 620 N.W.2d 42, 43 (Minn. 2000).
A sentence for third-degree criminal sexual conduct must include a conditional release term. Minn. Stat. § 609.109, subd. 7(a) (1998). The application of the conditional release statute is mandatory and nonwaivable. State v. Humes, 581 N.W.2d 317, 319-20 (Minn. 1998); see also State v. Garcia, 582 N.W.2d 879, 881-82 (Minn. 1998) (defendant not entitled to specific performance of plea agreement that does not include required conditional release term because conditional release is mandatory and nonwaivable). A sentence that lacks the required conditional release term is unauthorized and may be corrected after sentencing. Humes, 581 N.W.2d at 321. But when the addition of the conditional release term increases a sentence beyond the upper limit of a court-accepted plea agreement, the sentencing court must either allow the plea to be withdrawn or modify the sentence so that the maximum period of incarceration does not exceed the upper limit of the plea agreement. Jumping Eagle, 620 N.W.2d at 45.
The facts in this case are nearly identical to those in Jumping Eagle, where a defendant pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in exchange for probation and a stayed sentence. Id. at 43. As here, the defendant was not informed of the conditional release requirement until after he had violated the terms of his probation. Id. The only relevant difference between the cases is the date of the guilty plea: the defendant in Jumping Eagle pleaded guilty before the decisions in Humes and Garcia, and appellant pleaded guilty after those decisions.
Relying on State v. Calmes, 632 N.W.2d 641 (Minn. 2001), the postconviction court concluded that Jumping Eagle was inapplicable. In Calmes, the court held that a defendant’s due process rights were not violated when his sentence was modified to include a conditional release term because the defendant “knew or should have known that the conditional release term was mandatory.” Id. at 643. The court stated:
[B]ecause citizens are presumed to know the law, State v. King, 257 N.W.2d 693, 697-98 (Minn. 1977), once this court issued its decisions in Humes and Garcia holding that the conditional release term * * * was mandatory and nonwaivable, Calmes could not have developed a reasonable crystallized expectation of finality in a sentence that did not include a mandatory and nonwaivable condition.
Id. at 648. Similarly, the district court reasoned that appellant was presumed to know that the conditional release term was mandatory and nonwaivable because he pleaded guilty after the decisions in Humes and Garcia. We disagree.
The sentencing court in Calmes added a conditional release term less than a month after the sentencing hearing, vacated the term on the defendant’s motion, and re-imposed the term after the decisions in Humes and Garcia. Id. at 644. The supreme court recognized that the case involved unique facts and stated:
We do not suggest that a presumed or actual knowledge of the law will always defeat an expectation of finality in an illegal sentence. Rather, the facts in this case illustrate a particularly clear signal to Calmes that under Minnesota law his offense required imposition of a term of conditional release. He was actually aware of the statute, and presumptively aware of the holdings in Humes and Garcia that conditional release was mandatory and nonwaivable. Moreover, the state’s initial failure to object to removal of the conditional release term predated Humes and Garcia. While in another case presumed knowledge of the illegality of a sentence may not be as significant a factor, the particular clarity of the application of conditional release to Calmes’ conviction, combined with the procedural history including our decisions in Humes and Garcia, combine to defeat an expectation of finality in this case.
Id. at 648 n.4. In contrast, there was no “particularly clear signal” to appellant that his sentence required a conditional release term. There was no evidence that he had actual knowledge of the conditional release statute, and the record indicates that he first learned about the required term more than a year after his sentencing hearing.
Under Jumping Eagle, the postconviction court must either allow appellant to withdraw his guilty plea or modify his sentence so that the maximum period of his incarceration does not exceed the amount contemplated in his plea agreement. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings to determine whether appellant’s sentence should be modified or he should be allowed to withdraw his plea
Reversed and remanded.