of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender,
Veronica M. Surges, Assistant State Public Defender, Saint
Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.
Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota;
Torgelson, Renville County Attorney, Glen Jacobsen, Assistant
County Attorney, Olivia, Minnesota; and
A. Hersey, Special Assistant Renville County Attorney, Saint
Paul, Minnesota for respondent.
the charged offense prohibits a knowing violation of a
statutory provision, ignorance of the law is a defense
because it negates the existence of the required mens rea.
Appellant's guilty plea was not accurate because
statements made by appellant, which were never withdrawn or
corrected, negated the mens rea element of the charged
plea hearing, appellant Juanel Anthony Mikulak pleaded guilty
to the offense of knowingly violating a provision of the
predatory offender registration statute, Minn. Stat. §
243.166, subd. 5(a) (2016). As part of the factual basis for
his guilty plea, Mikulak told the district court that he
"now" understood that subdivision 3a of the statute
required him to register with law enforcement within 24 hours
of entering Renville County. On appeal, Mikulak argued that
the factual basis for his guilty plea was inadequate because
he made statements that negated the mens rea element of the
charged offense-specifically, that when he entered Renville
County, he believed that he had 1 week to register and that
he did not remember the 24-hour reporting requirement. The
court of appeals affirmed his conviction, reasoning that
"ignorance of the law is no excuse." Because
ignorance of the law is a defense when the charged offense
prohibits a knowing violation of a statutory provision, we
reverse the court of appeals and remand to the district court
for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
result of a 2008 conviction, Mikulak is required to register
under the predatory-offender-registration statute, Minn.
Stat. § 243.166 (2016). In 2014, he moved in with L.M.
at her residence in St. Cloud. Mikulak registered the St.
Cloud address as his primary residence. At some point between
late September and mid-October, Mikulak left the St. Cloud
residence at L.M.'s request. After he left, Mikulak met
with a Stearns County social worker and told her that he was
homeless. Mikulak then contacted a friend, D.T., who agreed
to pick up Mikulak from St. Cloud, drive him to her home in
Renville County, and allow him to stay with her. According to
D.T., Mikulak stayed at her home on October 16, 17, and 19.
During that time, Mikulak never registered as a predatory
offender in Renville County.
October 21, Mikulak was arrested and charged under Minn.
Stat. § 243.166, subd. 5(a), which makes it a crime to
"knowingly violate" any part of the
predatory-offender-registration statute. Specifically, the
State alleged that Mikulak knowingly violated subdivision 3a,
paragraphs (a) and (c), which require a predatory offender
who leaves a primary residence without obtaining a new
primary residence to register within 24 hours of leaving the
primary residence and within 24 hours of entering a new
moved to dismiss the charge for lack of probable cause. In
response, the State submitted several documents without
objection. These documents included an intake summary from
the Stearns County social worker, stating that on October 16,
Mikulak told her that he had been homeless for a week. They
also included a statement from D.T., stating that Mikulak
stayed at her residence in Renville County on October 16, 17,
and 19. Finally, the State submitted the
predatory-offender-registration form that Mikulak signed in
2008 informing him of the 24-hour-registration requirement.
The district court denied the motion to dismiss.
days later, Mikulak pleaded guilty to the offense of
knowingly violating a provision of the
predatory-offender-registration statute. As part of the
factual basis for his guilty plea, Mikulak told the district
court that he did not register as a predatory offender in
Renville County "because [he] assumed [he] had a
week" to do so. When the district court asked whether,
after having discussed the case with defense counsel, Mikulak
was satisfied that the 7-day registration period did not
apply in his case, Mikulak replied, "Yeah, now I
am." Mikulak also agreed that it was "a fair
statement" that he had been informed of the 24-hour
registration requirement in the past. Nevertheless, he
affirmed that "at the time [he] moved down [to Renville
County, he] didn't remember that that's what [he was]
told." The district court accepted Mikulak's guilty
plea and imposed a presumptive 36-month sentence.
appealed, arguing that the factual basis for his guilty plea
was inadequate because of his statements that negated the
mens rea element of the charged offense- specifically, that
when he entered Renville County, he believed that he had 1
week to register and did not remember the 24-hour reporting
requirement. The court of appeals affirmed, and we granted
Mikulak's petition for review.
guilty plea has been entered, there is no absolute right to
withdraw it. Shorter v. State, 511 N.W.2d 743, 746
(Minn. 1994). But a defendant may withdraw a guilty plea when
withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.
Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1. A manifest injustice occurs
when a plea is not accurate, voluntary, or intelligent.
Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 688 (Minn. 1997).
The accuracy requirement protects the defendant from pleading
guilty to a charge more serious than he could have been
convicted of at trial. State v. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d
712, 716 (Minn. 1994). For a guilty plea to be accurate, a
proper factual basis must be established. State v.
Theis, 742 N.W.2d 643, 647 (Minn. 2007). Although a plea
petition and colloquy may be supplemented by other evidence
to establish the factual basis for a guilty plea, Lussier
v. State, 821 N.W.2d 581, 589 (Minn. 2012), a factual