This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).







State of Minnesota,


Lawrence Andrew Matchem,



Filed December 28, 2004

Reversed and remanded

Wright, Judge


Anoka County District Court

File No. KX-03-4202



John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Susan J. Andrews, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN  55101; and


Robert M.A. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, Kristin C. Larson, Assistant County Attorney, Anoka County Government Center, 2100 Third Avenue, Anoka, MN  55303-2265 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N




On appeal from convictions of false imprisonment and attempted first-degree burglary, appellant asserts that his guilty plea was involuntary due to his participation in a package plea agreement with his codefendants.  We reverse and remand.



Appellant Lawrence Matchem and two accomplices were arrested in connection with an attempted abduction on April 27, 2003.  Each was charged with one count of kidnapping with release in an unsafe place, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.25, subds. 1, 2(2) (2002); and one count of first-degree burglary, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 1 (2002).

Matchem appeared for a guilty-plea hearing on July 7, 2003.  At the hearing, counsel for Matchem set out a plea agreement in which the state agreed to amend the complaint by reducing the burglary count to attempted first-degree burglary and adding one count of false imprisonment, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.255, subd. 2 (2002).  Matchem agreed to plead guilty to the amended counts, and the state agreed to dismiss the kidnapping charge at the sentencing hearing.  Based on a criminal history score of
two, the parties contemplated a sentence of 32 months’ imprisonment.[1]  Both the district court and Matchem’s counsel warned Matchem that the sentence would be longer if forthcoming Illinois records established a higher criminal history score of three.

Matchem pleaded guilty in accordance with this agreement.  Matchem also executed a plea petition in which he admitted that his plea was not the product of any threats or promises other than those in the plea agreement.

A presentence investigation, completed in August 2003, determined that Matchem had a criminal history score of seven, not two or three as contemplated at the time he entered his guilty plea.  Matchem’s sentencing was delayed several months by efforts to obtain Illinois records and confirm this result.  The district court eventually received these records and concluded that the presentence investigation was correct.

At a hearing on November 26, 2003, Matchem moved to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that he did not anticipate a criminal history score of seven.  The district court denied this motion, finding “no belief on anyone’s part that three was an accurate representation of the criminal history score of this defendant.”  This colloquy between Matchem’s counsel and the district court followed:

[COUNSEL:]  One of the other bases that we were asking for the motion [to withdraw the guilty plea] on was that it was the three-way plea agreement, either all defendants take the plea agreement or all defendants go to trial.  But I understand Your Honor’s ruling.


THE COURT:  Well, I didn’t buy that.  Do you remember that?  Do you remember I said I’ll take them one at a time?  I was willing to try each one of these cases or none of them. . . .  And in the end, my part of that discussion was I am prepared to try each of these three cases and I was prepared to proceed as soon as possible for both sides to be ready.  That’s all I recall of that.


Counsel for Matchem then moved for a downward durational departure.

Matchem was sentenced on December 9, 2003, to 37 months’ imprisonment, a downward departure from the presumptive guideline sentence of 54 months and consistent with the guideline sentence for a criminal history score of three.[2]  This appeal followed.



            Matchem asserts that, because he participated in a package plea agreement with his codefendants, his guilty plea was coerced and involuntary.  As a result, he argues that the district court erred in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.  We review the district court’s decision to deny a motion for plea withdrawal for an abuse of discretion.  State v. Abdisalan, 661 N.W.2d 691, 693 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Aug. 19, 2003).

A defendant has no absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea once it has been entered.  State v. Rhodes, 675 N.W.2d 323, 326 (Minn. 2004).  A defendant may move to withdraw a guilty plea when it is “necessary to correct a manifest injustice.”  Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1.  A manifest injustice includes circumstances in which a guilty plea is obtained in violation of constitutional due process.  To comport with due process, a guilty plea must be accurate, voluntary, and intelligent.  Alanis v. State, 583 N.W.2d 573, 577 (Minn. 1998).  Here, the sole issue is voluntariness—whether the guilty plea was made freely, without threat, coercion, or other improper inducement.  See State v. Jumping Eagle, 620 N.W.2d 42, 43 (Minn. 2000).

To demonstrate that a guilty plea is involuntary, a defendant has the burden to prove that the plea was the product of threatened physical harm or of mental duress sufficient to overwhelm the defendant’s will.  State v. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d 712, 719 (Minn. 1994) (citing Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, 750, 90 S. Ct. 1463, 1470 (1970)).  Ordinarily, if a defendant consistently states on the record that the guilty plea is freely made without threat and the record does not elsewhere disclose evidence of coercion, there is not sufficient proof of an involuntary plea.  Id. at 718-19; Brown v. State, 449 N.W.2d 180, 182 (Minn. 1989).

However, additional scrutiny is required for a “package plea” in which the plea agreement includes leniency for a defendant’s accomplices.  Butala v. State, 664 N.W.2d 333, 339 (Minn. 2003); State v. Danh, 516 N.W.2d 539, 542 (Minn. 1994).  Because persons other than the defendant benefit from the plea agreement, there is a greater risk that the defendant will be unduly pressured to enter a guilty plea.  Butala, 664 N.W.2d at 339.  As a result, the state is required to disclose to the district court when a package plea agreement has been offered to the defendant; and to determine the voluntariness of the guilty plea, the district court is required to conduct additional inquiry, beyond the requirements of Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.01, as to whether coercion exists.  Danh, 516 N.W.2d at 542. 

Although the state did not disclose the existence of a package plea at the guilty-plea hearing, the state concedes on appeal that Matchem’s guilty plea was based on a “package deal,” namely, “if any of the three defendants chose not to accept the plea bargain and demanded a trial, all three cases would be tried.”  As described, Matchem’s accomplices would not receive the benefit of a plea agreement with reduced charges if Matchem exercised his right to stand trial.[3]  The state attempts to distinguish the package plea here by contending that, unlike other package plea cases, leniency was not offered to close family members.  See Butala, 664 N.W.2d at 339 (involving promises of immunity for members of defendant’s family); Danh, 516 N.W.2d at 540 (involving more lenient treatment of defendant’s brother).  But the principal risk from a package plea is that its beneficiaries will pressure or coerce a defendant to plead guilty.  This risk exists regardless of whether the participants in the package plea agreement are family members.  See United States v. Clements, 992 F.2d 417, 419 & n.2 (2d Cir. 1993) (comparing package plea scenarios with and without family members).  As a result, we reject the narrow reading advanced by the state.

Contrary to the dictates of Danh and Butala, the package plea agreement was not disclosed to the district court until well after the guilty-plea hearing.  When the terms were disclosed, the district court noted its willingness to have a trial in any or all of the cases, without addressing whether the prospect of lost leniency for Matchem’s accomplices caused them to coerce Matchem to plead guilty.

Because the package plea offer here was not disclosed to the district court until after the guilty-plea hearing and Matchem was not afforded an opportunity to establish that his guilty plea was the product of coercion, we reverse and remand for further proceedings to determine whether there is sufficient evidentiary support for Matchem’s claim of coercion by his accomplices to warrant withdrawal of his guilty plea.

            Matchem raises two additional issues in his pro se supplemental brief.  First he contends that, because the presentence investigation established a criminal history score of seven rather than two, his sentence “went beyond the scope of the plea agreement.”  We disagree.  Prior to his guilty plea, Matchem was repeatedly warned by his counsel and the district court that he could be sentenced according to a criminal history score of three.  The district court subsequently sentenced Matchem in this manner.  We, therefore, conclude that Matchem was sentenced by the terms contemplated and agreed to at the time he entered his guilty plea.  Accordingly, this argument does not entitle Matchem to relief.  Cf. Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 689-90 (Minn. 1997) (finding no basis for plea withdrawal where district court rejects the recommended sentence in plea agreement).  Matchem also asserts that he was offered a more lenient sentence in exchange for cooperation with federal authorities.  Because nothing in the record indicates that such an agreement was offered or made, we also conclude that there is no basis for relief on this point.

Reversed and remanded.

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

[1] For first-degree burglary with the commission of an assault, a severity level VIII offense, the guideline sentence with a criminal history score of two is 64 to 72 months’ imprisonment.  Minn. Sent. Guidelines IV.  The guideline sentence for an attempted offense is half that of the completed offense.  Id. at II.G.  For false imprisonment by restraint, a severity level III offense, the guideline sentence with a criminal history score of two is 15 months’ imprisonment.  Id. at IV.


[2] For first-degree burglary with commission of an assault, a severity level VIII offense, the guideline sentences with a criminal history score of three and seven are, at a minimum, 74 months and 104 months, respectively.  Minn. Sent. Guidelines IV.  Thus, the guideline sentences for the attempted offense with a criminal history score of three and seven are 37 months and 52 months, respectively.  See id. at II.G, IV.

[3] According to transcripts of the guilty-plea hearings for Matchem’s accomplices, their plea agreements provided that each would plead guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false imprisonment and one count of misdemeanor fifth degree assault, with sentencing according to the guidelines.  Because the record does not include the accomplices’ criminal history scores or sentencing hearing transcripts, their sentences cannot be conclusively determined.  Nevertheless, given the reduced severity of the accomplices’ offenses, it is reasonable to infer that they received more lenient sentences than Matchem.