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State of Minnesota v. Zachary Steven Becker

April 22, 2013

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
ZACHARY STEVEN BECKER, APPELLANT.



Waseca County District Court File No. 81-CR-11-470

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Larkin, Judge

This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2012).

Reversed and remanded

Considered and decided by Rodenberg, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Larkin, Judge.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

LARKIN, Judge

Appellant challenges the district court's denial of his motion for post-conviction relief, arguing that withdrawal of his guilty plea is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. Because we conclude that the factual basis for appellant's guilty plea is inadequate and that his plea therefore is inaccurate, we reverse and remand.

FACTS

Respondent State of Minnesota charged appellant Zachary Steven Becker with failure to register as a predatory offender. Becker pleaded guilty to the charge on September 16, 2011. The district court sentenced Becker to 16 months in prison, stayed execution of sentence, and placed Becker on probation for five years. Becker appealed his conviction to this court. Becker also petitioned the district court for post-conviction relief, asking "to have his guilty plea invalidated and withdrawn" because the factual basis for his plea was insufficient. This court stayed Becker's appeal pending completion of post-conviction proceedings. The district court denied Becker's petition for post-conviction relief, and this court reinstated Becker's appeal.

DECISION

Guilty pleas may be withdrawn only if one of two standards is met. See Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05 (setting forth the manifest-injustice and fair-and-just standards for plea withdrawal). Becker argues that "he is entitled to an opportunity to withdraw this plea in order to correct a manifest injustice."

The district court must allow plea withdrawal at any time "upon a timely motion and proof to the satisfaction of the court that withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice." Id., subd. 1. A manifest injustice exists if a guilty plea is not valid. State v. Theis,742 N.W.2d 643, 646 (Minn. 2007). To be constitutionally valid, a guilty plea must be "accurate, voluntary and intelligent." State v. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d 712, 716 (Minn. 1994).

The accuracy requirement protects the defendant from pleading guilty to a more serious offense than he or she could be properly convicted of at trial. The voluntariness requirement insures that the guilty plea is not in response to improper pressures or inducements; and the intelligent requirement insures that the defendant understands the charges, his or her rights under the law, and the consequences of pleading guilty.

Carey v. State, 765 N.W.2d 396, 400 (Minn. App. 2009) (quotation omitted), review denied (Minn. Aug. 11, 2009). "A defendant bears the burden of showing his plea was invalid." State v. Raleigh, 778 N.W.2d 90, 94 (Minn. 2010). The validity of a guilty plea is a question of law. Id. When reviewing a post-conviction court's decision to grant or deny ...


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