may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Michael Joseph McLoughlin,
Filed November 24, 1998
Dakota County District Court
File No. K6-97-2062
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Jodie L. Carlson, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., #600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, 14th Floor NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Mary J. Theisen, Assistant County Attorney, Dakota County Courthouse, 1560 West Highway 55, Hastings, MN 55033-2392 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
Appellant Michael Joseph McLoughlin pleaded guilty to felony fleeing a peace officer, to gross misdemeanor aggravated driving under the influence, and to misdemeanor fifth degree assault. He moved to vacate all his guilty pleas, claiming that they were not voluntary and intelligent, and further claimed that his plea to fleeing a peace officer was not accurate. The district court denied appellant's motions. Because the district court did not abuse its discretion by finding that appellant's guilty pleas were knowing and intelligent and by finding that appellant's guilty plea to fleeing a peace officer was accurate, we affirm.
The sergeant and another officer pulled the appellant from his vehicle. Appellant was visibly intoxicated and a chemical analysis of his blood revealed an alcohol concentration of .19.
After the sergeant took appellant to jail, she entered his cell to retrieve his wallet. Appellant pushed her. The sergeant again tried to retrieve the wallet and appellant kicked her; the sergeant then sprayed him with mace.
Appellant pleaded guilty to fleeing a police officer, aggravated driving violations, and assault in the fifth degree. During the plea and sentencing hearing, appellant testified that he understood the charges against him and made no claim of innocence. He stated that he knew a police car was attempting to stop him and that he did not stop his vehicle until he involuntarily drove into the ditch. Appellant also said that he was taking Xanax, a drug for nervous disorders, but that the medication did not affect his mental state; he was still able to make reasonable decisions.
After sentencing, appellant moved to withdraw all of his guilty pleas and moved separately to vacate his conviction for fleeing a peace officer. The district court heard the motions at a sentence review hearing. Appellant included in support of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea a portion of the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR) detailing the withdrawal symptoms suffered by users of Xanax. Appellant testified that at the time of his guilty plea the jail nurse allowed him only one-third of his prescribed dose of Xanax and that this affected his ability to enter a plea. Appellant testified that he could not think clearly and that his heart was racing--symptoms of withdrawal according to the PDR. He also testified that he would have pleaded guilty to murder to gain release from jail and resume his full dosage of Xanax.
In support of his motion to vacate, appellant asserted that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the offense of fleeing a peace officer. The district court denied both motions. This appeal followed.
1. Guilty Pleas Voluntary and Intelligent.
A district court has discretion in deciding whether to grant a motion to withdraw a guilty plea, and we will not reverse absent the abuse of that discretion. See State v. Aviles-Alvarez, 561 N.W.2d 523, 525 (Minn. App. 1997), review denied (Minn. June 11, 1997). Our review is limited to a determination of whether sufficient evidence exists to sustain the district court's findings. Id.
The guilty plea must be accurate, voluntary, and intelligent. Id. A district court must allow the defendant to withdraw his guilty plea upon a showing that withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. Id.; Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1. A plea is voluntary if it is not the result of improper pressures. See State v. Trott, 338 N.W.2d 248, 251 (Minn. 1983). A plea is intelligent if the offender knows and understands the charges against him, the rights he waives, and the consequences of his plea. Aviles-Alvarez, 561 N.W.2d at 526.
Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion because the record does not support its conclusion that appellant's guilty pleas were voluntary and intelligent and that withdrawal of the pleas is not necessary to correct this manifest injustice. Appellant asserts that he established by a preponderance of the evidence that his plea was not voluntary and intelligent through his testimony regarding his Xanax medication and the corroborative support of the PDR.
To support his argument, appellant cites State v. Knight, 292 Minn. 419, 422, 192 N.W.2d 829, 831 (1971) (uncorroborated testimony is not sufficient to meet the burden of proof for withdrawal of a guilty plea). Contrary to appellant's argument, Knight may not be inverted to mean that corroborated testimony is always sufficient to meet the burden of proof.
Appellant's argument that the record does not support the finding that his plea was knowing and intelligent conflicts with his testimony at the plea hearing that the medication did not affect his mental state and that he was able to make reasonable decisions. Despite appellant's later testimony at the sentencing review hearing that the medication affected his ability to plead, there is evidence in the record to the contrary. We hold that the district court's decision was not an abuse of discretion.
2. Accuracy of Plea.
A guilty plea must be accurate, voluntary, and intelligent. Aviles-Alvarez, 561 N.W.2d at 525. We will reject a guilty plea if we conclude that the district court could not have fairly found defendant's plea accurate. State v. Warren, 419 N.W.2d 795,798 (Minn. 1988). The accuracy requirement ensures that a defendant does not enter a guilty plea to a more serious offense than he could be convicted of at trial. Trott, 338 N.W.2d at 251. The district court should not accept a plea unless the record supports the conclusion that the defendant actually committed the offense to which he pleads. Id. at 252.
Here, the appellant pleaded guilty to fleeing a peace officer. The relevant statute provides that
[T]he term `flee' means to increase speed, extinguish motor vehicle headlights or taillight, or to use any means with intent to elude a peace officer following a signal given by any peace officer to the driver of a motor vehicle.
§ 609.487, subd. (1) (1998). Fleeing a police officer is a specific intent crime. See State v. Johnson, 374 N.W.2d 285, 288 (Minn. App. 1985), review denied (Minn. Nov. 18, 1985). Intent is determined from words and actions in light of the surrounding circumstances. Id. "Circumstantial evidence of specific intent will support a conviction only where the facts disclosed by it support no other inference." Id.
Appellant argues that his guilty plea to fleeing a peace officer is inaccurate because the record is insufficient to support a finding of specific intent; appellant was intoxicated, taking Xanax, and did not attempt to elude police by increasing his speed or extinguishing his headlights or taillights. But at the plea hearing, appellant testified that although he knew police wanted him to stop, he continued to drive and stopped only upon running into a ditch. He also testified that he did not stop voluntarily. Furthermore, at no time in either hearing did appellant testify that he was too intoxicated to form specific intent.
We conclude that appellant has failed to show that withdrawal of his guilty pleas is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. The district court did not abuse it discretion
in denying appellant's motions.