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State v. Arthur J. Anderson, 2010AP1673-CR, District 3, 2/8/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Anderson: Susan E. Alesia, SPD, Madison Appellate; case activity; Anderson BiC; State Resp.; Reply

Guilty Plea – Criminal Damage to Property – Factual Basis

¶6        To be found guilty of criminal damage to property, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

1. The defendant caused damage to physical property.  2. The defendant intentionally caused the damage.  3. The property belonged to another person.  4.  The defendant caused the damage without the consent of [the owner].  5. The defendant knew the property belonged to another person and knew that the other person did not consent to the damage.

WIS JI—CRIMINAL 1400 (2002); see also WIS. STAT. § 943.01.  Anderson asserts that there was no factual basis to support a determination he intentionally damaged the vehicle.  Specifically, he contends the police report, which was incorporated into the criminal complaint, refers to his vehicle as having been in an accident.  Anderson argues an accident is not intentional.

¶7        However, the record supports the circuit court’s determination that Anderson intentionally damaged the property.  During the plea colloquy, the circuit court explained to Anderson that an element of criminal damage to property is that the damage was intentional and not accidental.  The court stated: “[T]he District Attorney would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that … you did intentionally, on purpose, not by accident, cause damage to somebody’s property.”  The court asked Anderson if he understood the charge and Anderson indicated he did.  Anderson then pled guilty.  Here, the intent element was shown through Anderson’s voluntary guilty plea.  See N.N. v. Moraine Mut. Ins. Co., 153 Wis. 2d 84, 97, 450 N.W.2d 445 (1990) (holding intent to act is shown by a voluntary plea of guilty); see also Thomas, 232 Wis. 2d 714, ¶¶18, 20-21 (noting a court may look at statements made during the plea hearing to establish a factual basis).  We conclude the record provides an adequate factual basis to support Anderson’s conviction for criminal damage to property.

The charge was plea bargained down from operating without owner’s consent, which means that a reduced showing is required for a factual basis, Thomas, ¶18. But the only showing here, so far as the opinion indicates, is that the car struck a deer, ¶2. So, we are supposed to think that Anderson intentionally struck the deer? Sounds a bit of a stretch.

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