This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).







State of Minnesota,





Shawn R. Crawford,




Filed December 6, 2005

Crippen, Judge


Steele County District Court

File No. K2-02-538 / K2-01-1288


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and


Douglas L. Ruth, Steele County Attorney, Scott L. Schreiner, Assistant County Attorney, 303 South Cedar, Owatonna, MN 55060 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Cathryn Y. Middlebrook, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Stoneburner, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant challenges his sentence, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a downward durational departure.  Because neither of the mitigating circumstances alleged by appellant is adequately established in the record and the court acted well within its discretion by disregarding both when it imposed the presumptive sentence, we affirm.   


            In June 2003, appellant Shawn Crawford pleaded guilty to one count of terroristic threats in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.713 (2002) and one count of second-degree attempted arson in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.562 (2002).  The terroristic threats charge arose from an October 2001 incident in which appellant orally threatened another individual while holding an open knife.  The attempted arson charge arose from a May 2002 incident in which witnesses observed appellant pouring gasoline on an apartment door and attempting to ignite the gasoline with a burning cigarette.  Appellant entered his plea pursuant to State v. Goulette, which holds that a district court can accept a guilty plea despite the accused’s claims of innocence if the court concludes that the evidence would support a jury verdict of guilty and the plea is voluntarily, knowingly, and understandingly entered.  258 N.W.2d 758, 761 (Minn. 1977).  The court admitted the police reports of the alleged offenses to establish the factual bases for the pleas.  Appellant did not raise a self-defense claim or any question about his mental health at the plea hearing.   

Before sentencing, appellant filed a motion for a downward durational departure, arguing that the victims of each offense were in fact the aggressors and that his mental health was compromised at the time he committed the offenses.  The district court denied the motion and imposed the presumptive guidelines sentences of 21 months and 19 months imprisonment, to be served concurrently. 



The district court’s sentencing decision will be overturned only if there is a clear abuse of discretion.  State v. Schmit, 601 N.W.2d 896, 898 (Minn. 1999).  It is a “rare case” that warrants reversal of a district court’s refusal to depart from the sentencing guidelines.  State v. Kindem, 313 N.W.2d 6, 7 (Minn. 1981).  Even when grounds exist that may justify a departure, we are not to interfere with the imposition of the presumptive sentence.  State v. Evenson, 554 N.W.2d 409, 412 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Oct. 29, 1996). 

            The district court must impose the presumptive sentence unless the case involves substantial and compelling circumstances that warrant a departure.  Minn. Sent.  Guidelines II.D.  The sentencing guidelines list several mitigating factors that the court may use to justify a downward-departure decision, id., II.D.2.a, but the court is not obligated to grant a dispositional departure just because a mitigating factor is present.  State v. Oberg, 627 N.W.2d 721, 724 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied (Minn. Aug. 22, 2001).

            Appellant’s assertion that he was the victim in each incident and acted in self-defense is contradicted by both the police reports admitted into evidence to provide the factual bases for appellant’s guilty pleas and by the district court’s findings of fact concerning those pleas.  Appellant’s assertion is insufficient to mandate a downward departure.  See State v. King, 367 N.W.2d 599, 603 (Minn. App. 1985) (affirming the refusal to depart from the sentencing guidelines where “[a]ppellant's contention that she was not the aggressor in the incident was not clear from the evidence”). 

            Appellant’s assertion concerning his compromised mental health is based on a psychological report prepared prior to sentencing.  A defendant may be eligible for a downward departure because of a mental impairment.  Minn. Sent. Guidelines II.D.2.a.(3).  But the psychological report that was prepared to determine the propriety of a dispositional departure does not suggest impairment of appellant’s mental state at the time of the charged offenses.  And to the extent that the report indicates that appellant may currently suffer from limited mental abilities, it does not describe a mental impairment that is apt to explain commission of the offenses.  Because the record does not compel a departure from the sentencing guidelines, the district court acted well within its discretion by imposing the presumptive guidelines sentence. 


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