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Guilty Pleas – Procedure – Factual Basis, Generally

State v. Monika S. Lackershire, 2007 WI 74, reversing 2005 WI App 265
For Lackershire: Steven P. Weiss, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue/Holding:

¶33     Wisconsin Stat. § 971.08(1)(b) provides that before a circuit court accepts a defendant’s guilty plea, it must “make such inquiry as satisfies it that the defendant in fact committed the crime charged.” This court has determined that establishing a sufficient factual basis requires a showing that “the conduct which the defendant admits constitutes the offense charged . . . .” White v. State, 85 Wis. 2d 485, 488, 271 N.W.2d 97 (1978) (quoting Ernst v. State, 43 Wis. 2d 661, 674, 170 N.W.2d 713 (1969)); State v. Black, 2001 WI 31, ¶21 n. 8, 242 Wis. 2d 126, 624 N.W.2d 363.

¶34      The duties established in Wis. Stat. § 971.08 are “designed to ensure that a defendant’s plea is knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.”Brown, 293 Wis. 2d 594, ¶23. In our recent decision in State v. Kelty, for example, we allowed that a plea may not be “knowing, intelligent, and voluntary because the plea colloquy was defective in discussing the elements of the crime or the factual basis” for the charges. 2006 WI 101, ¶44, 294 Wis. 2d 62, 716 N.W.2d 886. Thus, establishing a factual basis under § 971.08(1)(b) is necessary for a valid plea. [9]

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