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Alford Plea

State v. Lyle A. Lay, No. 2010AP81-CR, District III, 7/13/10

court of appeals decision (1-judge; not for publication); for Lay: Timothy A, Provis; BiC; Resp.; Reply

An Alford plea may be one of “no contest” as well as “guilty”:

¶8      Lay is mistaken that an Alford plea cannot be entered within the context of pleading no contest. “An Alford plea is a guilty or no contest plea in which the defendant either maintains innocence or does not admit to the commission of the crime.” State v. Multaler, 2002 WI 35, ¶4 n.4, 252 Wis. 2d 54, 643 N.W.2d 437 (emphasis added); see also State v. Williams, 2000 WI App 123, ¶7, n.4, 237 Wis. 2d 591, 614 N.W.2d 11 (“Alford plea is a plea in which the defendant pleads either guilty or no contest”); State ex rel. Warren v. Schwarz, 211 Wis. 2d 710, 717, 566 N.W.2d 173 (Ct. App. 1997), aff’d 219 Wis. 2d 615, 579 N.W.2d 698 (1998), (“Alford plea is a plea in which a defendant pleads either guilty or no contest”); State v. Spears, 147 Wis. 2d 429, 433, 433 N.W.2d 595 (Ct. App. 1988) (an Alford plea “allows a guilty (or no contest) plea to be entered by a defendant even when accompanied by protestations of innocence” (internal punctuation omitted)). We therefore reject Lay’s argument that by construing his plea as “a[n] Alford plea of no contest,” the circuit court transformed his plea into a guilty plea.

Additionally: the trial court informed Lay of the consequences of an Alford plea when it told him he would be found guilty and a conviction would result “just as though you had pled guilty or pled no contest and admitted there was a factual basis for the plea,” ¶9. Eyewitness accounts recited in the complaint established a sufficient factual basis. To the extent Lay had a different version, his remedy was to challenge the complaint’s version at trial, ¶10. And, Lay’s argument that the court of appeals should bar entry of Alford pleas either by unrepresented defendants or altogether, is not within the court’s authority to entertain, ¶10 n. 3.

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