State v. Collins

Decision Date15 August 1978
Citation176 Conn. 7,404 A.2d 871
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. David E. COLLINS.

Louis S. Avitabile, Sp. Public Defender, Waterbury, for appellant (defendant).

Bradford J. Ward, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on brief, was Francis M. McDonald, Jr., State's Atty., for appellee (state).


SPEZIALE, Associate Justice.

The issue presented on this appeal is whether the trial court erred in denying the defendant's oral motion to withdraw his guilty plea after sentence had been imposed.

The pertinent facts are substantially as follows: On June 24, 1976, the defendant David E. Collins, with the aid of a former prisoner, escaped from the federal penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he had been serving a fifteen year sentence imposed by the federal court for the district of Connecticut. On June 25, 1976, at approximately 11:45 p. m., the defendant and his companion were stopped by a Connecticut state police officer on interstate route 84 in Middlebury. The trooper ordered the two from the vehicle. The defendant allegedly shot the trooper in the right arm, and, after a chase in which another trooper assisted, the defendant and his companion were apprehended and taken into state custody.

On June 29, 1976, the defendant was charged by substitute information in two counts: criminal attempt at murder and larceny in the second degree. On July 6, 1976, the defendant pleaded not guilty and elected a trial by jury. Subsequently, a second substitute information was filed, adding a third count: assault in the first degree. Thereupon the defendant withdrew his prior pleas and elections and, after a hearing before the court (Matzkin, J.), entered a plea of guilty to the charge of assault in the first degree. The state then entered a nolle on each of the other two charges.

The defendant appeared for sentencing on September 10, 1976. The court (Saden, J.) ordered that the defendant serve a term of seven and one-half to fifteen years, "the sentence . . . (to) run consecutive to any outstanding sentence in any other court that this defendant may have resting against him." The defendant objected immediately, saying, "I want to withdraw my plea, if that's the case." Defense counsel then stated: "(H)e wishes to withdraw his plea because he feels it is not the plea bargaining. The bargaining is he should have a sentence of seven and a half to fifteen years, period." The court refused to permit withdrawal of the plea at which point counsel for the defendant claimed "(f)or the record, he is under a misunderstanding, then . . . of what the sentence was."

The defendant's assignment of errors rests upon two arguments. He contends that the state broke its promise "because the sentence given to the defendant was not the sentence for which the defendant had bargained." He also claims error in the court's conclusion that, as a matter of law, state and federal sentences run consecutively rather than concurrently. This appeal does not, however, concern promises broken by the state; cf. Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 92 S.Ct. 495, 30 L.Ed.2d 427 (1971); because the substance of the promise was never clearly and fully communicated. Furthermore, because we decide that the guilty plea itself was not valid, we need not reach the merits of the defendant's claim that, when no directions are given, a sentence is presumed to run concurrently with any outstanding term.

In order for a plea of guilty to be constitutionally valid, it must be "Equally voluntary and knowing . . . it cannot be truly voluntary unless the defendant possesses an understanding of the law in relation to the facts." (Emphasis added.) McCarthy v. United States, 394 U.S. 459, 466, 89 S.Ct. 1166, 1171, 22 L.Ed.2d 418 (1969); Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 242, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969); State v. Marra, 175 Conn. 338, 340, ...

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27 cases
  • State v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • May 2, 2000 understanding of the law in relation to the facts, including all relevant information concerning the sentence. State v. Collins, 176 Conn. 7, 9, 404 A.2d 871 (1978).... A determination as to whether a plea has been knowingly and voluntarily entered entails an examination of all of the re......
  • State v. Garvin
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • August 5, 1997 understanding of the law in relation to the facts, including "all relevant information concerning the sentence." State v. Collins, 176 Conn. 7, 9, 404 A.2d 871 (1978). The defendant also must be aware of the "actual value of any commitments made to him by the court ... because a realisti......
  • State v. James
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • September 3, 1985
    ...may have to spend in prison is clearly crucial to a decision of whether or not to plead guilty." (Emphasis added.) State v. Collins, 176 Conn. 7, 9-10, 404 A.2d 871 (1978). Accordingly, Practice Book § 711(4) "require[s] that the court determine that the defendant 'fully understands' those ......
  • State v. Irish
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • October 10, 1986
    ...... that the law required that a consecutive sentence be imposed requires a reversal of defendant's conviction"); State v. Collins, 176 Conn. 7, 10, 404 A.2d 871, 872 (1978) (defendant was not "fully apprised of the consequences of his plea" where he did not know "whether federal and state ......
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