Spirit Track v. State

Citation272 N.W.2d 803
Decision Date22 December 1978
Docket NumberNo. 12468,12468
PartiesBenjamin Ralph SPIRIT TRACK, Petitioner and Appellant, v. STATE of South Dakota, Respondent.
CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota

Stanley E. Whiting of Day & Grossenburg, Winner, for petitioner and appellant.

John P. Guhin, Asst. Atty. Gen., Pierre, for respondent; William J. Janklow Atty. Gen., Pierre, on the brief.

MORGAN, Justice.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit denying application for post-conviction relief. Appellant contends that the circuit court erred in ruling that his guilty plea was voluntarily and intelligently given and that his constitutional rights had not been violated by the acceptance of said plea by the trial judge. We reverse.

On June 18, 1975, Benjamin Ralph Spirit Track (appellant) was charged with five counts of larceny and one count of third-degree burglary. Following plea negotiations, appellant was arraigned and pled guilty to one count of grand larceny and the third-degree burglary charge. The remainder of the charges were dismissed upon the prosecution's request. At the arraignment, the information containing the charges was read to appellant and the trial judge discussed the charges with him. Appellant stated that he had been intoxicated at the time and that he did not remember some of the events. After further discussion the trial judge accepted appellant's guilty plea and sentenced him to five years in the South Dakota State Penitentiary.

On March 23, 1977, appellant initiated this action in circuit court for post-conviction relief contending that (1) his plea of guilty was not voluntarily and intelligently given because (a) he was not advised by his attorney nor by the trial judge that specific intent was a crucial element of the offense charged; and (b) he was not advised that SDCL 22-5-5 made the defense of voluntary intoxication available to him; (2) that the trial court failed to ascertain a factual basis for acceptance of the plea of guilty.

The circuit court ruled that appellant's plea had been voluntarily and intelligently given; that appellant had been sufficiently apprised of the intent requirements of the crimes; that the judge did not err in not bringing SDCL 22-5-5 to the attention of appellant before accepting his plea of guilty; and that the trial judge determined that there was a factual basis for the guilty plea. Appellant appeals the circuit court's decision.

In reviewing the circuit court's decision, we may not upset its factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous. SDCL 15-6-52(a); Cunningham v. Yankton Clinic, P.A., S.D., 262 N.W.2d 508 (1978). Further, we must bear in mind that in cases such as this, the burden of proof is upon the appellant. State v. Brech, 84 S.D. 177, 169 N.W.2d 242 (1969); Nachtigall v. Erickson, 85 S.D. 122, 178 N.W.2d 198 (1970). In order for a guilty plea to withstand attack on constitutional due process grounds, the record must affirmatively show that the plea was voluntarily and intelligently given. Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969); Nachtigall v. Erickson, supra. The record must show that the judge "canvassed" the matter with the accused before accepting the plea of guilty to determine whether the appellant was freely and intelligently waiving his constitutional rights relating to self-incrimination, confrontation, and jury trial, and whether the appellant understood the nature and consequences of the plea. SDCL 23-35-19; Nachtigall v. Erickson, supra.

We look first to the appellant's contention that the court below erred in finding that a sufficient factual basis had been established on the record to allow the trial judge to accept appellant's plea of guilty.

Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the requirements of which were adopted in substance by this court in State v. Doherty, S.D., 261 N.W.2d 677 (1978), includes the requirement that a factual basis be established for the acceptance of a plea of guilty. 1 The United States Supreme Court, in McCarthy v. United States, 394 U.S. 459, 89 S.Ct. 1166, 22 L.Ed.2d 418 (1969), explained this requirement as follows:

(I)n addition to directing the judge to inquire into the defendant's understanding of the nature of the charge and the consequences of his plea, Rule 11 also requires the judge to satisfy himself that there is a factual basis for the plea. The judge must determine 'that the conduct which the defendant admits constitutes the offense charged in the indictment or information . . .' Requiring this examination of the relation between the law and the act the defendant admits having committed is designed to 'protect a defendant who is in the position of pleading voluntarily with an understanding of the nature of the charge but without realizing that his conduct does not actually fall within the charge.' 394 U.S. at 467, 89 S.Ct. at 1171.

The requirement that a factual basis be established on the record before acceptance of a guilty plea is not unduly burdensome. It can usually be established by the interrogation of the defendant by the judge. An admission by the defendant that he/she performed the acts which constitute the crime is sufficient. If the defendant cannot or...

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24 cases
  • State v. Moeller
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 26 January 1994
    ...(factual basis for a plea) was adopted in substance by this Court in State v. Doherty, 261 N.W.2d 677 (S.D.1978), and Spirit Track v. State, 272 N.W.2d 803 (S.D.1978) before SDCL 23A-7-2 and 23A-7-14 were enacted. State v. Sutton, 317 N.W.2d 414 (S.D.1982). However, failure to comply with t......
  • State v. Schulz, 15273
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 15 January 1987
    ...328 N.W.2d 254 (S.D.1982); Gregory v. State, 325 N.W.2d 297 (S.D.1982); State v. Sutton, 317 N.W.2d 414 (S.D.1982); Spirit Track v. State, 272 N.W.2d 803 (S.D.1978); State v. Doherty, 261 N.W.2d 677 (S.D.1978). The factual basis requirement, codified at SDCL 23A-7-2, is very closely pattern......
  • Miller v. State
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 28 September 1983
    ...disturb such findings unless they are clearly erroneous. SDCL 15-6-52(a); Gregory v. State, 325 N.W.2d 297 (S.D.1982); Spirit Track v. State, 272 N.W.2d 803 (S.D.1978). Miller's first claim is that the trial court's inquiry into his reasons for requesting a change of judge denied him due pr......
  • Satter v. Solem
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 3 June 1988
    ...must bear in mind that in cases such as this, the burden of proof is upon the [petitioner]." ' Goodroad at 145 citing Spirit Track v. State, 272 N.W.2d 803, 804 (S.D.1978). Petitioner first contends that his admissions "to Sheriff Berg were inadmissible because they were involuntary." Petit......
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