Hennepin County District Court File No. 01082797
Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and
An appellant has the burden to point to the legal basis for the withdrawal of his guilty plea before sentencing. When an appellant moves to withdraw his plea before sentencing claiming that withdrawal would be fair and just but does not also argue that a manifest injustice exists, he does not challenge the validity of the plea, and we apply only the fair-and-just standard under which we consider appellant's reasons for withdrawal and any prejudice to the prosecution if the motion is granted.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge
Although appellant could not recall the events that provided a factual premise for his plea, he pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary, admitting that there was sufficient evidence to support a conviction. Before sentencing, appellant moved to withdraw his plea. He argues that the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion because he entered his plea in haste, never admitted his guilt, and felt coerced by his defense attorney. Because appellant has failed to show that the district court abused its discretion in denying his motion to withdraw his plea, we affirm.
Appellant Yahye Elmi Abdisalan pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary. The facts presented in support of his plea show that at 2:00 a.m. on October 4, 2000, Abdisalan cut the screen covering an eight-year-old girl's bedroom window and entered the room. The girl woke up and told Abdisalan to leave before she called 911. The girl's five-year-old sister, who was also sleeping in the bedroom, woke up and began to cry. Abdisalan put his hand under the eight-year-old's bed covers and touched her vaginal area. She kicked him, and he left through the window as the girl's sister began to scream. The eight-year-old described her assailant to the police, and they arrested Abdisalan. The girl later identified Abdisalan as her attacker from a photographic display. The police also found Abdisalan's fingerprints at the scene.
Abdisalan pleaded not guilty and requested a jury trial. Before the trial started, the state offered a plea bargain, but Abdisalan rejected it. During voir dire, he changed his mind, agreed to the plea bargain, and decided to plead guilty.
Although Abdisalan is a Somali immigrant, he stated at the time of his plea that he had no difficulty communicating with his attorney about the case; that he could speak, read, and write English sufficiently to enter his plea; that he understood the particular trial rights he would give up by pleading guilty; that no one had threatened or coerced him to get him to plead guilty; that he knew there could be immigration consequences, including deportation; and that he understood the DNA and sex-offender registration requirements. He also indicated that he and his attorney had discussed all of these issues and that he had been allowed sufficient time for the discussions.
Abdisalan testified that he was too intoxicated on the night of the crime to recall what had occurred, but after reading the police reports, hearing pretrial police testimony, and hearing the court's summary of the complaint, he believed there was sufficient evidence to convict him. Despite his lack of memory of the facts of the crime, Abdisalan decided to plead guilty to obtain a sentence at the low end of the guidelines and to avoid the risk of an upward departure.
Two weeks later, and before sentencing, Abdisalan moved to withdraw his plea, contending that he did not always understand everything, was concerned that a jury might not be fair to Somalians and Muslims, felt coerced by his lawyer who said there was only a 30% chance of acquittal, and felt the judge, prosecutor, and his ...