This opinion will be unpublished and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 January 9, 2007
Reversed and remanded
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 05035329
Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul,
Michael O. Freeman, 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, Richard A. Schmitz, Assistant Public Defender,
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Dietzen, Judge; and Worke, Judge.
Appellant challenges his conviction of attempted first-degree assault, arguing that the district court erred in denying his presentencing motion to withdraw his guilty plea and in failing to articulate its reasons for denying the motion. Because the district court failed to articulate its reasons for denying the motion to withdraw, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
In June 2005, the highway patrol
responded to a report of a shooting incident in
During a subsequent interview, the driver-victim stated that a van pulled up next to him as he was driving on the highway and that a man sitting in the van’s passenger seat extended a handgun out the window and fired several shots at him. The victim, after viewing a photo lineup, identified Christopher Porter as the shooter and appellant Thaimon Crawford as the driver of the van. Investigators later recovered the handgun they believed was used in the shooting from appellant’s brother’s house. When appellant was later arrested on other charges, he admitted that he and Porter had been involved in the shooting.
Appellant and Porter were then charged with attempted first-degree murder. In July 2005, appellant pleaded guilty to an amended count of first-degree attempted assault. The plea agreement provided for a sentence of 48 months, which is a downward durational departure. In exchange, appellant agreed to testify against Porter.
Shortly before appellant’s sentencing hearing, the state dismissed the charges against Porter because it was unable to locate the victim, and appellant then moved to withdraw his guilty plea at the hearing. Appellant argued that he and his family were put at risk by Porter’s release, that appellant pleaded guilty without knowing that the victim was not available, that it would be unfair to convict appellant and not Porter, and that he was entitled to withdraw his guilty plea under the “manifest injustice” standard. The state opposed the motion and argued that the prosecution would be prejudiced by withdrawal because it could not locate the victim, whose presence was essential to proceed against appellant. The state did, however, agree to a further downward departure to 42 months.
Following the hearing, the district court denied appellant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea stating, “[w]ell, I’m going to deny the motion to withdraw the guilty plea.” The district court sentenced appellant to 42 months. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by denying his presentencing motion to withdraw his guilty plea because it failed to articulate its reasons for denying the motion and because it did not give due consideration to the reasons for guilty plea withdrawal under the “fair and just” standard.
A criminal defendant has no
absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea once it has been entered. Alanis
v. State, 583 N.W.2d 573, 577 (
Generally, courts “shall allow a defendant to withdraw a plea of guilty upon a timely motion and proof to the satisfaction of the court that withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.” Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1; Kim, 434 N.W.2d at 265. When a motion to withdraw a guilty plea is made before sentencing, a district court should consider the motion under the “fair and just” standard. Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 2; Kim, 434 N.W.2d at 266; see also Barnes v. State, 489 N.W.2d 273, 275-76 (Minn. App. 1992) (holding that when a motion to withdraw a plea is made before sentencing, it is considered under the “fair and just” standard), review denied (Minn. Nov. 3, 1992). Here, appellant made his motion to withdraw before sentencing, and, therefore, the “fair and just” standard is applicable.
Under the “fair and just”
standard, a district court may allow a criminal defendant to withdraw
a guilty plea before sentencing if it would be “fair and just” to do so, provided the
district court gives “due consideration” to the reasons advanced by the
defendant and to “any prejudice the granting of the motion would cause the
prosecution by reason of actions taken in reliance upon the defendant’s
plea.” Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 2;
Kim, 434 N.W.2d at 266.
A defendant seeking plea withdrawal bears the burden of proving that it
is “fair and just” to allow withdrawal of a guilty plea. Kim,
434 N.W.2d at 266. Conversely, it is the
state’s burden to prove that it will be prejudiced by plea withdrawal. State
v. Wukawitz, 662 N.W.2d 517, 527 (
Because the district court simply stated, “[w]ell, I’m going to deny the motion to withdraw the guilty plea,” we are unable to ascertain the basis for its ruling or review the exercise of its discretion. We cannot independently determine whether it would be “fair and just” to allow appellant to withdraw his guilty plea or whether allowing appellant to withdraw his guilty plea would result in prejudice to the prosecution. See State v. Kaiser, 469 N.W.2d 316, 319 (Minn. 1991) (holding that the court of appeals should not have concluded “on the basis of its own review of the record” that there was a fair and just reason for withdrawal, but “should have simply remanded to the [district] court . . . for reconsideration of the motion to withdraw under the ‘fair and just’ standard”). Therefore, we must reverse and remand for reconsideration of appellant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea under the “fair and just” standard. The district court may, in its discretion, reopen the record and receive additional evidence.
Reversed and remanded.