Juvenile Allowed to Withdraw Plea


Case: In re Jackson

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )

Issues:

Whether the respondent-juvenile’s plea was understanding, voluntary, and accurate; MCR 3.941(C)(1) & (3); A juvenile’s plea of admission or no contest; MCR 3.941(A); Explanation of the possible dispositions; MCR 3.941(C)(1)(b); MCL 712A.18; MCL 712A.18(1)(a), (b), (d), & (e); Ensuring the accuracy of the plea by questioning of the juvenile or other means; MCR 3.941(C)(3)(a); Waiver; In re Tiemann; Principle that a factual basis to support a plea can be established if an inculpatory inference could be drawn to prove the underlying offense based on what the respondent admits, even if an exculpatory inference could also be drawn; People v. Fonville; Plea of admission to CSC IV; MCL 750.520e(1)(a); Force or coercion; MCL 750.520e(1)(b); Remand from a plea-based conviction; People v. Brownfield

Summary:

Holding that the trial court abused its discretion because the questioning of the respondent-juvenile did not establish a sufficient factual basis to support a CSC IV adjudicative finding pursuant to MCR 3.941(C)(3)(a), the court remanded.

Respondent entered a plea of admission to CSC IV. He later filed a motion to withdraw his plea, which the trial court denied. On appeal, the court rejected his argument that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to withdraw his plea as it was not understanding or accurate. It noted that although the trial court “did not perfectly delineate the different potential dispositions,” it “sufficiently relayed that out-of-home placement was a possible outcome for respondent.” Considering its “language that it would ‘try’ to keep respondent in the home, but that ‘if there were problems’ it would ‘pull [him] out of the home,’” its decision to deny his motion to withdraw the plea did not fall outside the range of principled outcomes. In addition, “[a]llowing respondent’s attorney to question respondent [wa]s another means by which the trial court could ensure the plea was accurate.” Thus, it “did not err simply because it did not conduct the questioning itself.” However, the court found that “the trial court abused its discretion when it upheld the plea because the record lacked any factual basis to support an adjudication under MCL 750.520e(1)(b).” As such, it remanded for clarification of the charged offense on the record, and to allow the petitioner an opportunity to establish a factual basis for the offense. “If no such factual basis is established, the plea must be set aside.”

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