This opinion will be unpublished and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,
Filed October 12, 2004
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 03069058
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael K. Walz, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence Hammerling, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
Appellant Cesar Arredondo-Manrique challenges his conviction for second-degree unintentional murder, arguing that, because his guilty plea was not accurate, voluntary, and intelligent, he is entitled to withdraw it. Because the record reflects that appellant’s guilty plea was valid, we affirm.
Appellant fatally shot an individual who he mistakenly believed was abusing appellant’s friend. Appellant was then indicted for first-degree and second-degree intentional murder. Respondent State of Minnesota offered appellant a plea agreement involving a sentence of 150 months if he would plead guilty to second-degree unintentional murder. Appellant accepted the offer, pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, and was sentenced to 150 months. He now challenges the validity of his guilty plea for the first time in this court. Among other things, the state asserts that appellant failed to follow the appellate procedural requirement that the plea withdrawal issue first be raised in the district court. For the purpose of this opinion, we assume, without deciding, that the appeal is valid procedurally.
D E C I S I O N
To withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing, a defendant must show that the withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1. “A defendant may withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing ‘upon a timely motion and proof to the satisfaction of the court that withdrawal of the plea is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.’” State v. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d 712, 715-16 (Minn. 1994) (quoting Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1). A manifest injustice does not occur when there is a valid guilty plea. See Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 688 (Minn. 1997). To be valid, a guilty plea must be accurate, voluntary and intelligent. State v. Wukawitz, 662 N.W.2d 517, 521 (Minn. 2003).
1. Accuracy of Plea
To be accurate, a guilty plea must have a proper factual basis. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d at 716. A proper factual basis is usually established by asking the defendant questions about what happened. Id. An accurate plea ensures that the defendant does not plead guilty to a more serious offense than he or she could be convicted of at trial. State v. Trott, 338 N.W.2d 248, 251 (Minn. 1983). The court should not accept the plea unless the record supports the conclusion that the defendant committed an offense at least as serious as the crime to which he is pleading guilty. State v. Goulette, 258 N.W.2d 758, 762 (Minn. 1977).
At the plea hearing, the public defender asked appellant a series of questions about what happened. Appellant admitted that he shot the victim. Appellant also acknowledged that, while he intended only to scare the victim, he did fire the shots that ultimately caused the victim’s death. Appellant claims he was motivated by his mistaken belief that the victim was abusing appellant’s friend, but the fact that the friend misled appellant into believing the victim was abusing her does not make appellant’s guilty plea inaccurate. “Unintentional murder” accurately describes the act appellant admitted committing, regardless of his mistaken belief. Based on his testimony, appellant’s plea had a proper factual basis.
2. Voluntary Plea
A plea must be voluntary to ensure that a defendant is not pressured to plead guilty. Trott, 338 N.W.2d at 251. Appellant acknowledged that, with the aid of the Spanish language interpreters assisting him, he was able to understand perfectly what was said at the plea hearing. Appellant also agreed that he understood the nature of the plea agreement and that he wished to proceed with the guilty plea. He further stated that he understood that pleading guilty meant giving up his right to a jury trial. The record indicates that appellant’s plea was voluntary.
3. Plea Intelligently Entered
A defendant’s plea is intelligently entered when he or she “understands the charges, the rights being waived and the consequences of the guilty plea.” Brown v. State, 449 N.W.2d 180, 182 (Minn. 1989). The court should not accept a plea if it is doubtful that it is made intelligently. State v. Jones, 267 Minn. 421, 427, 127 N.W.2d 153, 157 (1964).
At the plea hearing, appellant affirmed several times that he understood the nature of the charges against him, that he was waiving his right to a jury trial, and that the consequence of the plea agreement would be a 150 month sentence. In response to every question, appellant indicated that he understood what was happening and wished to proceed. The record indicates that appellant understood his plea and entered it intelligently.
We conclude that appellant’s guilty plea was accurate, voluntary, and intelligent and that appellant has not shown that plea withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.