This opinion will be unpublished and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
State of Minnesota,
ex rel. Ryan Daniel Peltier, petitioner,
Sheryl Ramstad Hvass,
Commissioner of Corrections,
Filed November 10, 2003
Dakota County District Court
File No. C6-02-11196
Rory Patrick Durkin, The Giancola Law Office, PLLC, 403 Jackson Street, Suite 305, Anoka, Minnesota 55303 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101-2134; and
James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Lawrence F. Clark, Assistant County Attorney, Dakota County Judicial Center, 1560 West Highway 55, Hastings, Minnesota 55033 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Randall, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
Appellant Ryan Daniel Peltier argues on appeal from an order denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus that his guilty plea was never formally accepted, and therefore he was never formally convicted. Appellant also argues that his guilty plea was invalid because the district court did not enter a new waiver of rights and a factual basis for the plea but simply relied on appellant’s previously withdrawn guilty plea. Because the district court implicitly accepted appellant’s guilty plea when it stayed imposition of sentence, and because appellant was not prejudiced by the district court’s reliance on the previous waiver of rights and factual basis, we affirm.
On November 12, 1996, appellant pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Appellant’s waiver of rights and factual basis were under oath and on the record. The court did not accept appellant’s plea, and the decision on accepting the guilty plea was reserved until sentencing. At the sentencing hearing on January 22, 1997, appellant withdrew his guilty plea and trial was scheduled.
On April 22, 1997, appellant appeared for trial and expressed his desire to plead guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Appellant was represented by two experienced attorneys, one of whom was at each of appellant’s previous proceedings. The district court relied on the factual basis from appellant’s previous plea and on appellant’s previous waiver of rights. When asked by the prosecutor if he would like anyone to review those rights with him on the record, appellant said, “No thank you.” Furthermore, appellant’s counsel stated that they specifically spoke to appellant about his constitutional rights. In lieu of accepting appellant’s guilty plea, the district court entered a stay of adjudication for a period of up to five years.
On January 26, 1998, the trial court judge vacated appellant’s stay of adjudication due to a probation violation. On March 3, 1998, a probation revocation hearing was held. Appellant admitted to the violation and was reinstated on probation. The district court stayed imposition of sentence and ordered appellant to serve 30 days in jail for violating his probation.
In August 1999, appellant was arrested for various probation violations; on September 29, 1999, a probation revocation hearing was held. Appellant admitted violating his probation and was reinstated on probation. Appellant was ordered to serve 120 days in jail with work release privileges.
On November 9, 1999, appellant’s probation was revoked, and on December 1, 1999, a probation revocation hearing was held. Appellant admitted to the violation and was ordered to be committed to the Commissioner of Corrections for 18 months. The court stayed execution of the sentence, reinstated appellant on probation, and ordered appellant to serve 180 days in jail.
On January 11, 2000, appellant’s probation was revoked. On April 5, 2000, a probation revocation hearing was held where appellant admitted to violating his probation. The district court revoked appellant’s probation and on April 20, 2000, the district court judge sentenced appellant to the Commissioner of Corrections for 18 months and added 60 months of supervised release.
On December 4, 2002, appellant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. The district court signed an order scheduling a hearing. Respondent filed a motion to vacate order to show cause. In the motion respondent argued that appellant should be seeking relief under a petition for postconviction relief.
On December 20, 2002, the postconviction court heard the arguments on respondent’s motion and the writ of habeas corpus. The postconviction court denied appellant’s writ of habeas corpus on January 30, 2003.
This appeal follows.
Appellate courts “review a postconviction court’s findings to determine whether there is sufficient evidentiary support in the record.” Dukes v. State, 621 N.W.2d 246, 251 (Minn. 2001). “The decisions of a postconviction court will not be disturbed unless the court abused its discretion.” Id. Appellate courts give great weight to the district court’s findings in “considering a petition for a writ of habeas corpus and will uphold the findings if they are reasonably supported by the evidence.” Northwest v. LaFleur, 583 N.W.2d 589, 591 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Nov. 17, 1998). Both the habeas corpus statute, Minn. Stat. ch. 589 (2000), and the postconviction statute, Minn. Stat. ch. 590 (2000), provide a method for challenging a conviction based on claimed constitutional errors. See State ex rel. Holm v. Tahash, 272 Minn. 466, 469, 139 N.W.2d 161, 163 (1965) (holding habeas available to address claimed constitutional errors); Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 1(1) (2000) (providing that person convicted of a crime may petition for postconviction relief on the basis that “the conviction obtained or the sentence or other disposition made violated the person’s rights under the constitution”).
Appellant alleges that he was never formally convicted, and therefore the standard of review for a denial of habeas corpus should apply. Appellant contends that had he filed a petition for postconviction relief, he would, in effect, be admitting there was a conviction. Respondent contends that a petition for postconviction relief is the appropriate vehicle to raise appellant’s issues and that, in any event, the district court had the discretion to treat appellant’s petition for writ of habeas corpus as a petition for postconviction relief. See Townsend v. State, 646 N.W.2d 218, 222 (Minn. 2002) (holding where habeas corpus petition filed in wrong county, district court did not err in construing petition for writ of habeas corpus as a petition for postconviction relief). But as the district court correctly observed, whether these issues are properly brought under a writ of habeas corpus or under a petition for postconviction relief, the result is the same. Therefore, because we conclude that appellant was, in fact, convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree, we will consider appellant’s challenge to his conviction as a petition for postconviction relief and apply the applicable standard of review.
Appellant argues that he has not been formally convicted and therefore cannot constitutionally be committed to the Commissioner of Corrections or be deemed to be in violation of an imposed period of conditional release. Appellant notes that he was placed on a stay of adjudication, then sentenced to a stay of imposition, then to a stay of execution, and finally committed to the Commissioner of Corrections for 18 months and placed on a 5-year period of conditional release. Appellant argues that, through all of this, his guilty plea was never formally accepted. We disagree.
Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 7, states, in part, that a “stay of imposition of sentence is an adjudication of guilt.” On March 3, 1998, the district court stayed imposition of appellant’s sentence, and therefore he was adjudicated guilty. Appellant concedes that imposition of sentence is an adjudication of guilt; however, he argues that the district court must affirmatively and on the record accept a defendant’s guilty plea. Appellant appears to be arguing that to “affirmatively” accept a guilty plea on the record, the district court must speak the words “I accept your guilty plea.” But by adjudicating appellant guilty, the district court implicitly accepted appellant’s guilty plea—it was unnecessary for the district court to actually say that it had done so. Therefore, the postconviction court did not abuse its discretion by finding that the imposition of sentence was sufficient to constitute a conviction.
Appellant also argues that he should be allowed to withdraw his plea because it became inadmissible when he withdrew his original guilty plea; and since his original plea was inadmissible, a new waiver of rights and a new factual basis should have been entered when he pleaded guilty on April 22, 1997. Appellant contends the requirements of Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.01 are not discretionary and require that the defendant be sworn and questioned at length by the court with assistance of counsel when entering a guilty plea.
A defendant does not have an absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea. See Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989). A defendant may withdraw a guilty plea if he or she demonstrates that “withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.” Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1. Manifest injustice occurs when the “three basic prerequisites” of a valid guilty plea are not met. Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 688 (Minn. 1997) (quotation omitted). The three prerequisites are that the guilty plea “must be accurate, voluntary, and intelligent (i.e., knowingly and understandingly made).” Id. These requirements ensure that the defendant “understands the charges, understands the rights he is waiving by pleading guilty, and understands the consequences of his plea.” Kaiser v. State, 641 N.W.2d 900, 903 (Minn. 2002) (quotation omitted).
Here, the record establishes that appellant’s plea was accurate, voluntary, and intelligent. Appellant had an opportunity to discuss the plea agreement and ask questions before the hearing. Two experienced public defenders, one of whom was at each of appellant’s previous hearings, appeared on appellant’s behalf at the plea hearing and stated on the record that they spoke to him about his constitutional rights. It appears from the record that appellant understood what rights he was waiving, and to the extent he did not understand them, his attorneys reviewed those rights with him. The fact that a defendant is advised by counsel before entering a plea “justifies the conclusion that counsel presumably advised [the] defendant of his other rights.” State v. Simon, 339 N.W.2d 907, 907 (Minn. 1983). That conclusion is particularly justified here where appellant had entered a guilty plea, with a full inquiry as to the rights he was waiving, only five months earlier. In addition, we note that appellant received considerable leeway from the district court over the course of nearly four years and repeated probation violations; and it was not until the district court finally executed appellant’s sentence in 2000 that he challenged the validity of his guilty plea.
Even though the district court did not precisely follow Rule 15.01, on this record, we see no “manifest injustice” or other prejudice to appellant. Thus the district court did not err in refusing to allow appellant to withdraw his guilty plea. That said, we remind the district courts that the better practice is to follow Rule 15.01 and enter a waiver of rights and a factual basis on the record every time a defendant pleads guilty.
 In Townsend, the petitioner’s counsel agreed that the habeas petition could be considered as a petition for postconviction relief, in part, this court surmised, because the petition would likely have been dismissed because it was filed in the wrong county. Id.; see Minn. Stat. § 589.02 (2000) (requiring petition for habeas corpus to be filed in county where defendant is incarcerated). Thus, although the district court here likewise cited Townsend, given its unique facts,we do not read Townsend to give the district court discretion in all cases to treat a petition for writ of habeas corpus as a petition for postconviction relief.