Ramsey County District Court File No. K9014414.
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Schumacher, Judge.
An upward durational departure under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines may not be based on an "admission" by the defendant, under Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004), unless the "admission" to an aggravating factor is accompanied by the defendant's waiver of his or her right to a jury trial on the aggravating factor.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert H. Schumacher, Judge
The supreme court has remanded Charles Conrad Hagen's appeal from his sentence for first-degree criminal sexual conduct following this court's affirmance of the sentence after the first remand. See State v. Hagen, 679 N.W.2d 739 (Minn. App. 2004), opinion vacated and remanded (Minn. July 20, 2004). We conclude the upward sentencing departure violates Hagen's right to a jury trial under Blakely. We reverse and remand for resentencing consistent with Blakely.
Hagen pleaded guilty in March 2002 to first-degree criminal sexual conduct committed against 13-year-old J.N., an autistic girl who lived in the house in which Hagen rented an apartment. The complaint charged a single count under Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(g), which requires that the offender engaged in sexual penetration with a victim under the age of 16 with whom he had a "significant relationship."
The plea agreement, as outlined in the Rule 15 plea petition, provided that Hagen would plead guilty to the offense as charged, and be able to "argue down[ward] departure based on amenability to probation." Hagen pleaded guilty on the date set for trial. The prosecutor pointed out there was no agreement as to sentence. It was understood that the district court would be "open" to considering a departure, depending on the results of the presentence investigation. In the guilty plea hearing, Hagen admitted that he sexually penetrated 13-year-old J.N. Hagen testified that his attorney had discussed with him the "significant relationship" element, which was based on his living in the "same residence" as the victim.
At sentencing, Hagen's attorney admitted that there were some "very aggravating factors," and stated that Hagen "does not deny that." Counsel then referred to "some issues about violence," apparently referring to some aspect of the offense. When Hagen exercised his right of allocution, he acknowledged that his crime would have longstanding effects on the victim.
The district court characterized this case as "one of the more horrendous cases of child sexual abuse that I have seen." The court sentenced Hagen to 216 months, an upward departure from the presumptive sentence of 144 months. In support of the departure, the court stated:
The basis for the departure is that you entered the victim's zone of privacy, that being that this took place in her home, and outside of the home for that matter; that it created great psychological and emotional trauma to the victim in this case; and, most importantly, that this child was particularly vulnerable due to her many disabilities.
The court concluded that these factors, along with "the deception that [Hagen] engaged in," ...