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State v. Brown

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

May 8, 2017

State of Minnesota, Appellant,
v.
Willie James Brown, petitioner, Respondent.

         Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-15-6876.

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Adam E. Petras, Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Chelsie Willett, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Considered and decided by Stauber, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Rodenberg, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         1. A potential out-of-state probation-violation penalty in an unrelated case is not a direct consequence of a criminal defendant's conviction.

         2. Misinformation about a collateral consequence does not render a guilty plea unintelligent and manifestly unjust.

          OPINION

          ROSS, Judge

         Respondent Willie Brown pleaded guilty to battery, robbery, and resisting police in Florida, served time in prison, and transferred his remaining year of probation to Minnesota. While on probation in Minnesota, Brown was charged with and pleaded guilty to being an ineligible person in possession of a firearm. He was extradited to Florida and informed that he faced a potential life sentence for violating his probation. Brown moved to withdraw his Minnesota guilty plea, and the district court permitted withdrawal because Brown was not informed of the "direct" consequence of a potential life sentence, rendering his plea unintelligent and establishing a manifest injustice. On appeal by the state, we hold that Brown's potential Florida probation-violation sentence is not a direct consequence of his Minnesota guilty plea. We therefore reverse the district court's order.

         FACTS

         Florida Convictions and Probation

         Willie Brown pleaded guilty to aggravated battery, robbery with a deadly weapon, and resisting a peace officer without violence in Florida in October 2012. Brown's signed plea petition acknowledged that he understood the maximum penalty for his crime to be 46 years. The same page of Brown's plea petition, which he initialed, contained the following acknowledgment:

I understand that if I am placed on probation, or community control, I must obey all general and special conditions of probation or community control. If I violate probation or community control, even in a technical way, I can be rearrested and charged with the violation. . . . If the Prosecution were to satisfy the Court of a violation, I understand I could receive the maximum sentence provided by law for the underlying offense.

         The Florida district court accepted Brown's plea and sentenced him to five years of imprisonment with one year of supervised probation.

         Brown applied to transfer his probation to Minnesota in January 2015. A probation order Brown signed in June 2015 contained the following relevant advisory regarding the terms of his probation:

YOU ARE HEREBY PLACED ON NOTICE that . . . [i]f you violate any of the conditions of your probation, you may be arrested and the court may revoke your probation, adjudicate you guilty if adjudication of guilt was withheld, and impose any sentence that it might have imposed before placing you ...

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