This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed November 22, 2005
Reversed and remanded
Roseau County District Court
File No. K0-02-430
Attorney General, Tibor M. Gallo, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer
Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul,
Michelle Moren, Roseau County Attorney, Courthouse, Room 10, 606 5th Avenue SW, Roseau, MN 56751 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Stoneburner, Judge, and Wright, Judge.
Isaac William Unruh pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted manufacture
of methamphetamine and, as part of the plea agreement, agreed to an 80-month
sentence, an upward durational departure from the presumptive 55-month
sentence. Appellant did not file a
direct appeal, but brought a postconviction petition for relief from the
sentence. The district court denied his
petition, stating that because the time for direct appeal expired, appellant
was not entitled to relief from his sentence under Blakely v. Washington, 542
district court correctly determined that appellant was not entitled to relief
under Blakely. But because we agree with appellant’s
alternative argument that a sentencing departure must be based on substantial
and compelling reasons, and may not be based solely on a plea agreement, we
reverse the district court’s denial of appellant’s postconviction petition and remand
to the district court. On remand, the
district court may consider motions to vacate the conviction and plea
petition for postconviction relief is a collateral attack on a judgment which
carries a presumption of regularity and which, therefore, cannot be lightly set
not end our inquiry into appellant’s sentencing. A district court’s decision to depart from
the sentencing guidelines is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. State
v. Misquadace, 644 N.W.2d 65, 68 (
“the overriding principle in all sentencing is rationality, predictability, and
consistency, and plea agreements . . . exist within the framework of the
sentencing guidelines[,]” a plea agreement alone is not a sufficient basis for
a departure. Misquadace, 644 N.W.2d at 71.
Instead, the district court must find that sufficient aggravating
circumstances exist to support a departure.
district court here relied on the aggravating factors set forth at Minn. Sent.
Guidelines II.D.2.b(5), which states that the district court may depart where
there is a major controlled substance crime, defined as “an offense or series
of offenses related to trafficking in controlled substances under circumstances
more onerous than the usual offense.”
Two or more of the listed factors must be present to support the finding
of a major controlled substance crime.
Neither of these is supported by the record. The first relies on the uncharged offenses, and there is no evidentiary support in the record for the second. Because there are no substantial and compelling reasons for departing from the presumptive sentence, the district court abused its discretion by enhancing appellant’s sentence.
In State v. Lewis, 656 N.W.2d 535, 538-39
(Minn. 2003), the supreme court acknowledged that the conviction and sentencing
components of a plea agreement are closely “interrelated,” and that when the
appellate court finds inadequate grounds for departure, the district court may consider
the effect the change in sentence has on the plea agreement. In
Reversed and remanded.