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Guilty Pleas – Factual Basis — Personal Assent by Defendant not Necessary

State v. Terry Thomas, 2000 WI 13, 232 Wis. 2d 714, 605 N.W.2d 836, affirming unpublished decision
For Thomas: Jeffrey W. Jensen

Issue: Whether a guilty plea defendant must personally assent to the plea’s factual basis.


¶18  This case requires us to determine to what extent a defendant must admit the facts of a crime charged in order to accept the factual basis underlying a guilty plea.  We hold that a defendant does not need to admit to the factual basis in his or her own words; the defense counsel’s statements suffice.  We also hold that a court may look at the totality of the circumstances when reviewing a defendant’s motion to withdraw a guilty plea to determine whether a defendant has agreed to the factual basis underlying the guilty plea.[8]  The totality of the circumstances includes the plea hearing record, the sentencing hearing record, as well the defense counsel’s statements concerning the factual basis presented by the state, among other portions of the record.


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