Dahl v. State, S-19-0204

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtKAUTZ, Justice.
Citation462 P.3d 912
Parties Lonnie Lee DAHL, Appellant (Defendant), v. The STATE of Wyoming, Appellee (Plaintiff).
Docket NumberS-19-0204
Decision Date11 May 2020

462 P.3d 912

Lonnie Lee DAHL, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
The STATE of Wyoming, Appellee (Plaintiff).

S-19-0204

Supreme Court of Wyoming.

May 11, 2020


Representing Appellant: Diane Lozano, State Public Defender; Kirk A. Morgan, Chief Appellate Counsel. Argument by Mr. Morgan.

Representing Appellee: Bridget Hill, Wyoming Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Deputy Attorney General; Joshua C. Eames, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Timothy P. Zintak, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Zintak.

Before DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.

KAUTZ, Justice.

¶1] Lonnie Lee Dahl pleaded no contest to child abuse and unlawful entry into an occupied structure (unlawful entry) after he entered the home where his estranged wife (Mrs. Dahl) and teenage son (the victim) were residing and hit the victim with a wooden shovel handle. He claims the charge of unlawful entry did not state a criminal offense. We conclude Mr. Dahl waived his claim by pleading no contest to the charge and affirm.

ISSUE

[¶2] Whether Mr. Dahl waived his challenge to the unlawful entry charge by pleading no contest.

FACTS

[¶3] The following facts are gleaned from the affidavit of probable cause, which the district court and parties agreed established the factual basis for Mr. Dahl's no contest pleas.

[¶4] On October 8, 2018, peace officer Stephen P. O'Donnell, Jr., responded to a 911 call of a domestic disturbance at the Cody, Wyoming, residence where Mrs. Dahl and the victim were residing. Mrs. Dahl reported

[462 P.3d 914

that she and Mr. Dahl were separated and he was not welcome in the home. Nevertheless, earlier that evening, Mrs. Dahl found him hiding in her bedroom.

¶5] Mrs. Dahl informed the officer that she left her bedroom and told the victim Mr. Dahl was there. The victim confronted Mr. Dahl, and Mr. Dahl hit the victim several times with a wooden shovel handle. When Mrs. Dahl tried to intervene, Mr. Dahl hit her with the shovel handle. Mr. Dahl then fled the premises, taking a hunting rifle that had belonged to Mrs. Dahl's grandfather with him. Officer O'Donnell observed a bleeding wound on the victim's head and bruising on his left arm.

[¶6] The State filed a felony information against Mr. Dahl, charging him with two counts of aggravated burglary, two counts of unlawful entry, one count of child abuse and one count of misdemeanor theft. The parties negotiated a plea agreement but did not put it in writing. At the change of plea hearing, the prosecutor described the plea agreement1 as including the following terms: 1) Mr. Dahl would plead no contest to Counts IV and V of the information – unlawful entry and child abuse, respectively; 2) the State would dismiss the other four counts with prejudice; 3) the State would recommend an eight to ten year sentence on each count, with the sentences to be served consecutively; and 4) Mr. Dahl could argue for whatever sentence he wished.

[¶7] After informing Mr. Dahl of the potential consequences of his plea, the district court gave him time to confer with his attorney. Mr. Dahl subsequently entered unconditional no contest pleas to Counts IV and V. The district court sentenced Mr. Dahl in accordance with the State's recommendation, and he appealed.

DISCUSSION

[¶8] Mr. Dahl claims his conviction on Count IV of the information (unlawful entry) must be overturned because it did not state a criminal offense.2 The State maintains Mr. Dahl waived his challenge to Count IV when he pleaded no contest to the charge.

[¶9] Whether Mr. Dahl's entry of an unconditional no contest plea waived the issue he raises on appeal " ‘presents a question of law that we review de novo .’ " Popkin v. State, 2018 WY 121, ¶ 11, 429 P.3d 53, 55 (Wyo. 2018) (quoting Redding v. State , 2016 WY 41, ¶ 13, 371 P.3d 136, 140 (Wyo. 2016) ) (other citations omitted). See also, Protz v. State, 2019 WY 24, ¶ 10, 435 P.3d 394, 397 (Wyo. 2019).

[¶10] A no contest or nolo contendere plea has the same effect as a guilty plea. Ochoa v. State, 848 P.2d 1359, 1361 (Wyo. 1993) (citing Davila v. State, 831 P.2d 204, 205 (Wyo. 1992) ). By entering a no contest plea, the defendant admits all the essential elements of the crime and waives all issues except those related to jurisdiction or the voluntariness of the plea. Popkin, ¶ 12, 429 P.3d at 55 ; Ochoa, 848 P.2d at 1362 ("A criminal defendant, by pleading guilty, admits all of the essential elements of the crime charged and thus waives all nonjurisdictional defenses."). See also, Hagen v. State , 2014 WY 141, ¶ 9, 336 P.3d 1219, 1222 (Wyo. 2014) (a no contest plea waives all non-jurisdictional defects); Van Haele v. State, 2004 WY 59, ¶ 20, 90 P.3d 708, 714 (Wyo. 2004) (same). Mr. Dahl does not argue his plea was involuntary; therefore, we consider whether he has identified a jurisdictional defect.

[¶11] "Jurisdictional issues are those involving ‘the very power of the State to bring the defendant into court to answer the charge brought against him.’ " Popkin, ¶ 12, 429 P.3d at 55 (quoting Davila , 831 P.2d at 205, which cited Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U.S. 21, 30, 94 S.Ct. 2098, 2103, 40 L.Ed.2d 628, 636 (1974) ). "Nonjurisdictional defenses and objections are ‘those objections and defenses which would not prevent a trial.’ " Ochoa, 848 P.2d at 1362 (quoting

[462 P.3d 915

Davila, 831 P.2d at 206 ) (other citations omitted). Jurisdictional issues include the "failure of the indictment or information to state a [criminal] offense." Davila, 831 P.2d at 205. See also , Protz, ¶ 10, 435 P.3d at 397 ; W.R.Cr.P. 12(b)(2) (a claim that an information "fails to show jurisdiction in the court or to charge an offense ... shall be noticed by the court at any time during the pendency of the proceedings"). But see, F.R.Cr.P. 12(b) ("A motion that the court lacks jurisdiction may be made at any time while the case is pending"; a motion to dismiss for failure of an indictment to state an offense must be raised pretrial "if the basis for the motion is then reasonably available and the motion can be determined without a trial on the merits"); United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 629-31, 122 S.Ct. 1781, 1784-85, 152 L.Ed.2d 860 (2002) (a claim that the indictment or information does not state an offense is not jurisdictional).

¶12] Mr. Dahl claims his no contest plea did not waive his challenge to Count IV. According to him, the district court did not have jurisdiction3 over Count IV because it did not state a criminal offense against him for two reasons: 1) it referred to an incorrect statute number; and 2) the victim was not a household member as required for domestic battery, which is an element of unlawful entry.

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1 practice notes
  • Delgado v. State, S-20-0273, S-21-0208
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • May 17, 2022
    ...the State filed in support of the criminal information as a factual basis for his no contest plea. See Dahl v. State, 2020 WY 59, ¶ 3, 462 P.3d 912, 913 (Wyo. 2020) (establishing the factual basis for the defendant's no contest pleas from the probable cause affidavit); McEwan v. State, 2013......
1 cases
  • Delgado v. State, S-20-0273, S-21-0208
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • May 17, 2022
    ...the State filed in support of the criminal information as a factual basis for his no contest plea. See Dahl v. State, 2020 WY 59, ¶ 3, 462 P.3d 912, 913 (Wyo. 2020) (establishing the factual basis for the defendant's no contest pleas from the probable cause affidavit); McEwan v. State, 2013......

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