This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




State of Minnesota, Respondent,


Peter Russell King, Appellant.

Filed December 15, 1998


Amundson, Judge

Ramsey County District Court

File No. K897736

Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and

Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Darrell C. Hill, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, 50 West Kellogg Boulevard, Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)

Daniel M. Mohs, Judith E. Payne, Daniel Mohs & Associates, Ltd., The Colonnade, Suite 1025, 5500 Wayzata Boulevard, Minneapolis, MN 55416 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.



Appellant challenges the district court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea prior to sentencing, arguing that it was not accurate, voluntary and intelligent.[1] We affirm.


On February 14, 1997, appellant Peter Russell King was driving a stolen vehicle when stopped by the St. Paul police. When police searched the car, they discovered more than 200 grams of methamphetamine. On March 9, 1997, King's sister posted a $30,000 bond, and he was released from custody. When King failed to appear at an April 7, 1997 court hearing, a warrant was issued. King was arrested pursuant to the warrant on April 11, 1997.

On April 24, 1997, King met with Assistant Ramsey County Public Defender John Riemer for approximately 15 to 20 minutes to discuss a plea agreement. King contends that this was his first meeting with Riemer. King agreed to the plea and signed a plea petition and a separate plea agreement. To satisfy the terms of the plea agreement, King was required to make three drug purchases that resulted in arrests; at least two of them for first-degree offenses.

On the record, Riemer requested a dispositional departure for King, and the prosecutor said that the state's willingness to agree to a departure would be based on King's performance while on probation. Still on the record, Riemer went through the plea petition form with King. The district court found that King's plea was knowing and voluntary.

King's bond was reinstated and he was released so that he could begin performing the conditions of his plea agreement. Ultimately, King failed to assist agents in making arrests pursuant to his plea agreement. He was subsequently arrested on a new fifth-degree possession charge for possession of methamphetamine.

On September 23, 1997, King moved to withdraw his plea on the grounds that: (1) his guilty plea was the result of improper enticement--specifically, he pled guilty only because he was promised a probationary sentence if he was able to make three drug purchases for the state; (2) he believed that he could withdraw his guilty plea if he was unable to make the three purchases; and (3) he had not been informed of a plausible entrapment defense prior to entering into the plea agreement. On November 6, 1997, King's motion was denied, and he was sentenced to a 161-month sentence.


The decision to allow a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea before sentencing "is left to the sound discretion of the trial court, and it will be reversed only in the rare case in which the appellate court can fairly conclude that the trial court abused its discretion." Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989).

A valid guilty plea "must be accurate, voluntary, and intelligent (i.e., knowingly and understandingly made)." Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 688 (Minn. 1997). Once a guilty plea has been entered, there is no absolute right to withdraw it. Shorter v. State, 511 N.W.2d 743, 746 (Minn. 1994).

The primary purpose of the accuracy requirement is to protect the defendant from pleading guilty to a more serious offense than he or she could properly be convicted of at trial. State v. Trott, 338 N.W.2d 248, 251 (Minn. 1983). A secondary rationale behind the accuracy requirement is that it "helps the court determine whether the plea is intelligently entered." Brown v. State, 449 N.W.2d 180, 182 (Minn. 1989). Riemer testified at the hearing on King's motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Riemer stated that he believed he discussed all of the terms of the plea agreement with King. Furthermore, the district court made a specific finding at the sentencing hearing that King's testimony was not credible because he was not candid and did not have a good recollection of the conversations that occurred on the day that he entered into the plea agreement. The district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that King's plea was accurate.

The voluntariness requirement helps insure that a defendant does not plead guilty because of any improper pressures or inducements. State v. Trott, 338 N.W.2d 248, 251 (Minn. 1983). King argues that he was improperly pressured into a plea agreement because he was afraid that if he did not agree to the plea, the bail that his sister had posted would be forfeited. He further argues that because of his concern for his sister's money, he was willing to enter into almost any agreement to assure reinstatement of the bond. However, no evidence indicates anyone pressured him to accept the plea to escape forfeiting bail.

King's second contention is that misleading promises were made regarding the sentence he would receive as a consequence of his plea. King's testimony, however, was controverted by Riemer, who indicated that he did not recall having made promises about sentencing, with the exception that if King completed the deal, Riemer would seek a dispositional departure. The record does not support King's assertion that the district court abused its discretion in determining that his plea was voluntary.

Finally, the requirement that a plea be knowingly and understandingly made is designed to insure that defendants understand the charges, the rights being waived, and the consequences of the guilty plea. Id. at 251. King argues that he did not know or understand a material consequence of his guilty plea; that once he entered into the plea agreement, it would be unlikely that he would be able to withdraw his plea unless the judge refused to accept the plea. Instead, King testified that he believed he could withdraw from the plea agreement at any time if he was not able to meet the terms of agreement. Riemer testified that he believed he had discussed with King the opportunity to withdraw the plea in the context of the court not accepting the plea.

"Numerous decisions of this and other courts have held that the uncorroborated testimony of a petitioner * * * is not sufficient to sustain his burden of proof" to show that his plea was not entered into intelligently. State v. Knight, 292 Minn. 419, 422, 192 N.W.2d 829, 831 (1971). King offered nothing other than his own testimony about his understanding of his plea agreement to corroborate his story. Further, Riemer was unable to corroborate King's story.

In addition to arguing that his plea was not accurate, voluntary, or knowing, King also argues that fairness concerns dictate that he be allowed to withdraw his plea. Again, this is a matter of discretion for the court.

[i]n its discretion the court may * * * allow the defendant to withdraw a plea at any time before sentence if it is fair and just to do so, giving due consideration to the reasons advanced by the defendant in support of the motion and 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. There is no indication on this record that the court abused its discretionary power.

In this present matter, King admitted that he committed the crime of which he was charged. The deal that gave him the opportunity either to complete the terms of the agreement or be sentenced pursuant to the guidelines was not unfair, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in its refusal to grant King's motion to withdraw his guilty plea.


[1] In this appeal, King raised an additional issue, concerning whether his criminal history score had been properly calculated for purposes of sentencing. Because appellant failed to brief this issue, we deem it waived. Scruggs v. State, 484 N.W.2d 21, 24 n.1 (Minn. 1992).