This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Dennis B. Scroggins,
Filed August 20, 1996
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K5953122
Dennis B. Scroggins, Box 55, Stillwater, MN 55082 (
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Mark N. Lystig, Assistant County Attorney, 50 West Kellogg Boulevard, Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Parker, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Foley, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Dennis Scroggins pled guilty to aiding and abetting attempted first-degree arson and was sentenced by the trial court to 26 months in prison. Scroggins pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement reached with the state. Scroggins argues that the sentence imposed by the trial court was not in accord with the plea agreement. He also claims he was misled by the trial court concerning the terms of the plea agreement. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
This court will not interfere with the trial court's broad discretion regarding sentencing matters unless there has been a clear abuse of discretion.
State v. Garcia
, 302 N.W.2d 643, 647 (Minn. 1981).
1. Imposition of Plea Bargain
Scroggins argues that the trial court abused discretion by imposing a sentence that was not appropriate under the plea agreement. Scroggins asserts he believed that the plea agreement promised him six months off the presumptive sentence, no matter what his criminal history score was. He asks that the 26-month sentence imposed by the trial court be vacated or that he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.
Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.04, subd. 3(1), states the responsibilities of a trial judge concerning a plea agreement:
State v. Tyska
, 448 N.W.2d 546 (Minn. App. 1989), this court held that where the parties do not bind the district court by their plea agreement, such a plea agreement is only a recommendation, which the district court is free to accept or reject.
When such a plea is tendered and the defendant questioned, the trial court judge shall reject or accept the plea of guilty on the terms of the plea agreement. The court may postpone its acceptance or rejection until it has received the results of a pre-sentence investigation. If the court rejects the plea agreement, it shall so advise the parties in open court and then call upon the defendant to either affirm or withdraw his plea.
In the present case, upon pleading guilty, Scroggins was advised by the trial judge that the plea bargain was only a recommendation. The trial judge explained that he normally goes along with such plea bargains, but that he might choose to impose a different sentence. At no time was Scroggins guaranteed by the trial court that his sentence would be in exact accord with the terms of the plea agreement. The judge explained that he retained the right to impose whatever sentence he felt appropriate, and if it was not what Scroggins expected, he would not have the right to withdraw his guilty plea. Scroggins stated that he understood these explanations.
Kim v. State
, 434 N.W.2d 263 (Minn. 1989), the supreme court held that an appellant was not entitled to withdraw his plea after receiving all that he had bargained for in the plea agreement.
The record shows that Scroggins' plea agreement was accepted at the sentencing hearing according to the exact terms and conditions laid out in the petition to enter a plea of guilty. The trial court stated that the plea agreement called for a sentence of 26 months or six months off any higher presumptive sentence if Scroggins had more than two criminal history points. The presentence investigation report determined that Scroggins had a criminal history score of one. Thus, although clearly not bound to follow the plea agreement recommendation, the trial court's imposition of a 26-month sentence was precisely what Scroggins bargained for.
2. Misleading Statements Concerning Plea Bargain
Scroggins also argues that the trial court abused discretion by misleading him as to the terms of the plea agreement.
It is the trial court's responsibility to sufficiently clarify the terms and conditions of a plea agreement so that the defendant as well as the attorney clearly understand the defendant's rights thereunder.
, 448 N.W.2d at 550.
On review of the transcripts, we believe that the trial court did sufficiently clarify the terms of the plea agreement. The plea bargain was clearly laid out in the court petition to enter a plea of guilty, which reads:
This agreement was signed by Scroggins, who was represented by counsel.
I have been told by my attorney and understand: *That he discussed this case with one of the prosecuting attorneys and that my attorney and the prosecuting attorney agreed that if I entered a plea of guilty, the prosecutor will do the following: Will jointly recommend 26 mos. cap to run concurrent with any other time being presently served elsewhere, assuming no more than 2 criminal history points. If more than 2 points, then six months off lower end of box. Serve 2/3 of 26 mos. if given good time.
At the sentencing hearing, the trial judge noted that there existed a discrepancy between what was stated in the petition to enter a plea of guilty and the plea hearing transcript. He clarified the terms of the plea agreement, after which Scroggins withdrew a notice to withdraw his plea, and then the district court imposed a 26-month sentence according to the terms laid out in the petition.
The record before us presents no evidence that the trial court misled Scroggins as to the terms of the plea agreement; rather, the trial court was merely mistaken (along with the parties) about how many criminal history points Scroggins had at the time he pled guilty. There appears to have been no contemplation, however, that Scroggins would receive a sentence less than 26 months.
Scroggins has attempted to take one statement out of context in order to demonstrate that he was misled by the trial court. Upon examination of the complete record, we believe that the terms of the plea agreement were clearly explained to both Scroggins and his counsel.
We conclude that it was not an abuse of discretion for the trial court to sentence Scroggins to 26 months imprisonment pursuant to the plea agreement and that the trial court did not mislead Scroggins as to the terms of that plea agreement.
Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.