Willis, Judge Hennepin County District Court File No. 01081383
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and
When the state dismisses a criminal charge in return for the defendant's waiver of the right to appeal a district court's evidentiary ruling related to the dismissed charge, the waiver is effective as long as it is knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Willis, Judge
Appellant challenges his convictions of third-degree driving while impaired and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. Respondent contends that in return for the dismissal of an additional charge of carrying a weapon without a valid permit, appellant waived his right to take this appeal. Although we have earlier held that we will not honor a waiver of a criminal defendant's right to appeal a sentence, Ballweber v. State, 457 N.W.2d 215 (Minn. App. 1990), whether we should accept such waivers in other contexts is an issue of first impression in Minnesota. We conclude that appellant's waiver is valid and do not reach the merits of his appeal.
On September 30, 2001, a Robbinsdale police officer on patrol saw a car that appeared to be exceeding the 40 mile-per-hour speed limit. Using the squad car's lights and siren, the officer signaled that the speeding car should pull over, but the driver instead accelerated to 70 miles per hour and ran a red light. The officer eventually forced the car to pull over and ordered the driver, appellant Bryce Lee Williams, out of the vehicle. The officer noticed that Williams smelled of alcohol. In addition, other officers on the scene found in Williams's car a 9 mm pistol, two loaded 9 mm ammunition magazines, and a loaded.45-caliber magazine. In Williams's wallet, police found a Minnesota state permit to carry a handgun that was stamped "not valid while consuming alcohol or drugs." Williams was placed under arrest and taken to a police station. There, police administered an Intoxylizer test that showed that Williams had an alcohol concentration of.14.
The state charged Williams with third-degree driving while impaired, in violation of Minn. Stat. §á169A.27 (2000); fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, in violation of Minn. Stat. §á609.487, subd. 3 (2000); and carrying a weapon without a valid permit, in violation of Minn. Stat. §á624.714, subd. 1(b) (2000).
At Williams's jury trial, the state offered as evidence the pistol and the three magazines found in Williams's car. Williams objected, arguing that the magazines were unduly prejudicial to his defense because they were not necessary to prove that he was guilty of the weapon charge and were offered only to show that Williams posed a threat to the officers who arrested him. The district court overruled the objection and admitted the magazines. Later in the trial, the state offered to drop the weapon charge if Williams would agree not to raise on appeal any issues concerning the admission of the magazines. In a colloquy with Williams on the record, his counsel explained:
The only argument you can't make [on appeal] is that the jury got the gun information [and] because they got that gun information they were * * * unduly tainted.
Williams replied, "I agree to that."
The jury found Williams guilty of third-degree driving while impaired and fleeing a peace officer. Williams appeals from his convictions, arguing that (1) giving effect to the waiver of his right to appeal on a ground related to the court's admission of the magazines into evidence would violate public ...