In the Matter of the Welfare of: P. T. C., Child.
Martin County District Court File No. 46-JV-12-140
Cathryn Middlebrook, Interim Chief Appellate Public Defender, Leslie J. Rosenberg, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant P.T.C.).
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Terry W. Viesselman, Martin County Attorney, Michael D. Trushenski, Assistant County Attorney, Fairmont, Minnesota (for respondent).
Considered and decided by Cleary, Chief Judge; Kirk, Judge; and Smith, Judge.
Appellant child appeals from a district court order denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea and argues that his plea was not intelligent. We reverse and remand because the child was not advised of the potential future consequences of his plea as required by Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 8.04, subd. 1(C)(4).
On August 14, 2012, appellant P.T.C., a first-time juvenile offender, appeared in district court on a delinquency petition alleging that he committed a misdemeanor violation of a harassment restraining order (HRO). After briefly consulting with a public defender, appellant pleaded guilty to violating the HRO. The record at the time of the plea indicates only that appellant was aware of the HRO and that he had contact with an individual in violation of the HRO.
The district court acknowledged his admission and set a date for a disposition hearing. On October 9, 2012, prior to disposition, appellant moved to withdraw his guilty plea because the district court failed to follow the rules of juvenile procedure when it accepted his plea. He argued that he did not make an intelligent plea because the district court failed to inquire on the record or obtain evidence in writing that he understood his rights and the consequences of pleading guilty.
The district court held an evidentiary hearing. Appellant testified that he met with a public defender briefly before his court appearance. He did not recall if the public defender informed him of his right to a trial or the consequences of having this delinquency adjudication on his record. He stated that he did not ask any questions because he thought he was going to plead guilty "and then that was it."
The public defender testified that it is her practice to inform a first-time juvenile offender about his rights and court procedures before he appears in court, but that she does not follow up and have the juvenile sign a Delinquency Statement of Rights form. The public defender stated she typically informs first-time juvenile offenders of their right to a court trial, to testify on their own behalf, to bring witnesses and cross examine witnesses, and to remain silent. She stated that she met with appellant and his mother for approximately five to ten minutes before the hearing and discussed his rights with him. She indicated that the mother said she was familiar with the charges, and neither appellant nor his mother asked any follow-up questions.
The public defender could not recall if she discussed the court's recommendations for disposition as outlined in the predisposition report or prescreening recommendation. She did not remember if they discussed any possible defenses, or that a misdemeanor HRO violation was a charge that could be used to enhance future offenses. See Minn. Stat. §§ 609.02, subd. 16, .749, subd. 4 (2012).
On February 26, 2013, after denying the motion to withdraw the guilty plea, the district court adjudicated appellant as a delinquent and entered a disposition ...