MN Defendant Can Withdraw Guilty Plea When Conditional-Release Term Added

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: MN criminal law, withdrawing guilty plea.

Robel Belay Kubrom v. State of Minnesota. MN criminal law, withdrawing guilty plea

In 2008, the defendant was charged in Hennepin County with first-degree driving while impaired, and driving after cancellation as inimical to public safety. After a plea agreement was reached, he pleaded guilty to first-degree driving while impaired, after the prosecutor agreed to a sentence of 46 months, concurrent with another sentence.

In 2013, the Department of Corrections wrote to the court stating that the sentence "did not mention the five year conditional release period." Without notice or hearing, the district court amended the sentence to include the conditional-release term. The defendant petitioned to either restore the original sentence or allow him to withdraw his guilty plea. When this petition was denied, he appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The appeals court reversed and held that Where a defendant pleads guilty as part of a plea agreement for a definite-term sentence and is informed of a statutorily mandated conditional-release term only by reference to an undefined conditional-release term in the complaint, the defendant is entitled to withdraw his guilty plea after the bargained-for definite sentence has been executed and served in full.

In so holding, the court noted that a guilty plea must be accurate, voluntary, and intelligent. It held that this standard was not met, because, at most, the defendant had only a general statement regarding a conditional-release term in the complaint. This was not sufficient, and the defendant was entitled to withdraw his guilty plea.

No. A14-0823 (Minn. Ct. App. Apr. 6, 2015)

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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