Probation Revocation, Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.04

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: probation revocation.

State of Minnesota v. Clarence Bruce Beaulieu. MN probation revocation

In 2010, Clarence Bruce Beaulieu was charged in Polk County, Minnesota, with burglary. He pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 57 months, but the sentence was stayed and he was put on probation for 20 years. Later that year, he was found to be in violation of his conditions of probation, but he was placed back on probation. Two years later, his probation officer filed a second probation violation report, and Beaulieu wasn't quite so lucky. He admitted the violation, his probation was revoked, and the 57 month sentence was executed.

Beaulieu then appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.04 requires that at the first appearance, the trial court must "tell the probationer" of various rights, and lists the rights conferred by Morrisey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471 (1972). This had not been done in his case. The Court of Appeals, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed. The appeals court reasoned that in the circumstances of the case, it was safe to assume that Beaulieu had been adequately informed of his rights, since he was represented by a lawyer at the revocation hearing. He then brought the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The state high court agreed with the Court of Appeals and affirmed. It first held that since the issue had not been raised below, that it would be considered under a "plain error" analysis. It then held that Morrisey did not itself confer a constitutional right to be advised of the rights.

The court then turned to the Minnesota rule which conferred the right to be advised. It held that since no objection had been made, Beaulieu failed to show how the error affected his substantial rights.

Justices Lillehaug, Page, and Wright dissented, and would have reversed, given the clear violation of the Rules of Criminal procedure.

No. A12-2192 (Minn. Feb. 4, 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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