Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-00-058499
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Lydia Maria Villalva Lijo, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Jean Elizabeth Burdorf, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Ross, Judge.
A motion to correct a sentence under Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 9, is properly construed as a petition for postconviction relief when the sentence was imposed pursuant to a plea agreement and granting the requested correction would allow the defendant to retain the benefit of a reduced charge and avoid the burden of the agreed-upon sentence.
This appeal is from a district court order that denied appellant's motion to correct his sentence under Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 9. The district court construed appellant's motion as a petition for postconviction relief and denied it as time-barred. We affirm.
In June 2000, appellant Oscar Adrian Orozco shot and killed J.A. Respondent State of Minnesota charged appellant with second-degree intentional murder, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 1(1) (1998), and second-degree unintentional murder, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 2(1) (1998). Under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines, the presumptive sentence for second-degree intentional murder was 306 months and the presumptive sentence for second-degree unintentional murder was 150 months. Minn. Sent. Guidelines IV (1998).
Pursuant to a plea agreement, appellant pleaded guilty to the unintentional-murder charge and agreed to a 220-month sentence, and the state dismissed the intentional-murder charge. Thus, by pleading guilty and agreeing to the 70-month upward durational departure on the unintentional-murder charge, appellant avoided the possibility of a 306-month sentence for a conviction of intentional murder. When describing the plea agreement to the district court, the prosecutor explained that the 220-month sentence was selected because it was a compromise between the guidelines sentences for intentional and unintentional murder. On January 4, 2001, the district court sentenced appellant to serve 220 months in prison. Appellant did not directly appeal his conviction or sentence.
On October 1, 2012, appellant brought a motion to correct his sentence under Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 9, arguing that the 220-month sentence was unauthorized because the parties' plea agreement was the sole basis for the upward durational departure, the departure was not supported by substantial and compelling factors, and appellant did not knowingly waive his right to be sentenced according to the sentencing guidelines. The district court determined that although appellant framed his motion as a request to correct his sentence under Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 9, appellant was really asking that his plea agreement be voided and, because appellant's motion implicated the finality of his conviction, the motion should be treated as a petition for postconviction relief, rather than a motion to correct appellant's sentence. The district court concluded that appellant's motion was time-barred because appellant did not bring the motion within the two-year limitations period for a petition for postconviction relief under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(a) (2012). This appeal follows.
Did the district court err in construing appellant's motion under Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 9, as a ...