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Delinquency Proceeding – Plea Withdrawal

State v. Darold M., 2012AP1020, District 1, 10/10/12

court of appeals decision (1-judge, ineligible for publication); case activity

Juvenile was not entitled to evidentiary hearing on his plea-withdrawal motion, which was premised on an unchecked box on the plea questionnaire signifying whether he understood the charges.

¶2        We conclude that Darold has not met his burden of showing that plea withdrawal is necessary to prevent a manifest injustice under the juvenile plea statute, Wis. Stat. § 938.30(8), and Bangert.  The plea hearing transcript clearly demonstrates that the circuit court personally addressed Darold and explained the charge to which Darold was pleading, its elements, its felony status and Darold’s penalty exposure.  After Darold acknowledged that he understood and his attorney confirmed that fact, the circuit court determined that Darold’s admission was knowing, free and voluntary.  Thus, we conclude plea withdrawal is not necessary to prevent a manifest injustice and affirm both the circuit court’s dispositional order[3] and its order denying Darold’s postdisposition motion to withdraw his plea.

¶15      Neither Wis. Stat. § 971.08(1), the adult plea statute Darold relies on, nor Wis. Stat. § 938.30(8), the juvenile plea statute applicable here, require a circuit court to inquire as to unchecked boxes or unanswered questions on the plea questionnaire.  In fact, neither statute requires that the juvenile or defendant even complete the plea questionnaire.  What both statutes require is that the circuit court ensures that the defendant understands the nature of the charges and penalties he faces before entering his plea.  As we develop more fully below, the transcript of the plea colloquy shows that the circuit court did exactly that by properly questioning Darold’s understanding of the charge and the penalties, including its felony status, during the plea colloquy.

¶23      The only showing that Darold makes in this appeal is that the circuit court failed to inquire as to why the box confirming that he understood the nature of the charge and the felony status of the offense was unchecked.  As shown above, neither Wis. Stat. § 938.30(8)(a) (the juvenile plea statute), Wis. Stat. § 971.08(1)(a) (the adult plea statute on which Darold relies), nor Bangert require that the circuit court ask about unchecked boxes on the plea questionnaire.  All the statutes and Bangert require is that the circuit court address the juvenile or defendant and determine, by means other than a mere affirmative response, that he understands the charges and penalties.  The circuit court did that here.

¶24      Because Darold fails to establish the first prong of the Bangert plea withdrawal analysis, we need not address the second prong, that is, whether he affirmatively alleged that he in fact did not know or understand the information which should have been provided at the plea hearing.  See Brown, 293 Wis. 2d 594, ¶39.

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