State v. Jeffries

Decision Date19 October 2011
Docket NumberNo. A09–1391.,A09–1391.
Citation806 N.W.2d 56
PartiesSTATE of Minnesota, Respondent, v. Erik Lerone JEFFRIES, Appellant.
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court


Syllabus by the Court

1. The requirement of Minn.Stat. § 609.02, subd. 5 (2010), that a guilty plea must be accepted and recorded before the defendant is convicted is satisfied when the district court unconditionally accepts the guilty plea and adjudicates the defendant guilty on the record.

2. A double-jeopardy claim is not forfeited by a defendant's counseled guilty plea.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, MN; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Paul R. Scoggin, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, MN, for respondent.

David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Susan Andrews, Assistant State Public Defender, St. Paul, MN, for appellant.


MEYER, Justice.

Appellant Erik Lerone Jeffries pled guilty to felony domestic assault and negotiated an agreement with the State in which Jeffries would receive a stayed sentence. The district court indicated at the plea hearing that it was accepting Jeffries' plea and that Jeffries was convicted. At a later date, the court told Jeffries it was “giving you your pleas back” and set the case for trial. Jeffries eventually reached another plea agreement with the State that resulted in a 60–month executed sentence. Jeffries appealed, arguing that the Double Jeopardy Clauses of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions prohibited the State from prosecuting him a second time for felony domestic assault. He also claimed ineffective assistance of counsel. The court of appeals affirmed the 60–month executed sentence. We reverse and remand.


During an argument on January 22, 2008, Jeffries threw a glass egg at his girlfriend. The egg missed his girlfriend but hit his girlfriend's teenage daughter in the face, causing her to require stitches and miss several days of school. The State charged Jeffries with felony domestic assault, Minn.Stat. § 609.2242, subd. 4 (2010). The charge was enhanced to a felony because Jeffries had two prior domestic assault convictions within the previous ten years.

Jeffries reached a negotiated plea agreement with the State. Under the agreement, Jeffries would plead guilty to the charged offense and receive a 48–month stayed sentence, which represented a downward dispositional departure and an upward durational departure from the presumptive sentence under the sentencing guidelines. The downward dispositional departure was due to “agreement of the parties and the defendant's acceptance of responsibility.” The upward durational departure was based on Jeffries' “significant criminal history” and the nature of the injury to the victim.

At his plea hearing on June 13, 2008, Jeffries was arraigned, entered a guilty plea, presented his written plea petition, placed the required waivers on the record, and testified to the factual basis for the plea. He testified that he had convictions for two previous domestic assaults against the same girlfriend, and he agreed that the injuries to the daughter made the offense “a little more serious” than a typical fifth-degree assault. Jeffries was not asked about the remainder of his criminal history at this hearing.

After Jeffries testified, the court said:

Erik Lerone Jeffries, based upon the facts on the record, I'll accept your plea of guilty and find you guilty of the fifth degree domestic assault on January 22nd, 2008, in the City of Minneapolis. So you are convicted of that.

I'm going to go ahead with the joint agreement of the parties and release you today on certain conditions, and then we'll have you back for sentencing in about six weeks or so out from today's date.

The court and the parties scheduled a date for the sentencing hearing. The following exchange then occurred:

[PROSECUTOR]: Your Honor, I would like the record to reflect that the defendant's appearance at sentencing and his cooperation with the [pre-sentence investigation (PSI) ] is a condition of the deal. So if he fails to cooperate with the pre-sentence investigation report, fails to appear for that, fails to provide the information, or fails to appear at sentencing, the plea will stand, but the deal is off.

THE COURT: Okay. [Defense counsel], anything you would like to cover with regard to that?

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Well, I think if the deal is off, then the deal should be off. They get the best of both worlds. If there's something that the probation officer doesn't like about his answer and they tell the court in their report that he didn't cooperate—

THE COURT: I'm not anticipating the cooperation being the key. I'm anticipating if you don't show up—

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: He'll show up.

THE COURT:—that's going to be the key.

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: He'll show up.


[PROSECUTOR]: And that was what I meant by cooperation, when they make an appointment, that he actually appears and talks to the probation officer.

THE COURT: Sure. Okay. All right.

The discussion moved on to the terms of a no-contact order that would be part of the conditions of release.

On the date set for sentencing, the district court indicated in discussions in chambers that it was no longer willing to accept the plea agreement. On the record, the court told Jeffries the reason for its decision:

Good afternoon, Mr. Jeffries. I know this is a turn of events that is probably confusing for you. Let me just share a little bit of my thoughts with you. I accepted the pleas earlier. We have sentencing set in for today and then we had the presentence investigation done. To be candid with you, your history looked a lot worse than what I thought it was when I indicated that the plea agreement probably would be acceptable. I'm not prepared to sentence you to a probationary sentence as it was outlined in the plea agreement basically because of the past criminal history and the different information that I have. But also I'll be candid with you. I don't think you'll be successful on probation, and you'd be looking at more time.

I understand that the State has filed a notice or will file the career offender enhancement in this case. That's a decision solely for the State to make. But because I'm not prepared to go forward with the sentencing, I'm giving you your pleas back. So you're not guilty, and your guilty pleas won't be used against you or anything. But we do have a trial date set for October 27 of 2008, and so we'll have the matter go to trial at that time if it isn't resolved in some other way prior to that.

The court then asked if Jeffries' attorney wanted to place anything on the record. Jeffries' attorney responded by inquiring about separate matters involving probation violations, but he did not object on the record to the court's action then or at any subsequent hearing before the district court.

The parties eventually reached a second plea agreement, and on March 31, 2009, Jeffries again pled guilty to felony domestic assault. Jeffries placed the required waivers on the record, testified to the facts underlying the charge, and agreed to an executed sentence of 22 months if he complied with the conditions of release or a 60–month executed sentence if he did not. The court accepted the plea, delayed sentencing, and released Jeffries on the conditions that he obey a no-contact order, remain law abiding, and neither use nor possess drugs or alcohol.

Two days later, Jeffries was arrested for possession of marijuana. The district court held an evidentiary hearing, found that Jeffries had violated the conditions of his release, and imposed a 60–month executed sentence consisting of a minimum 40–month term of imprisonment and maximum 20 months of supervised release, with credit for 199 days served.

Jeffries appealed, asking that his conviction be vacated on the grounds (1) that the Double Jeopardy Clauses of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions barred the State from prosecuting him a second time for felony domestic assault, and (2) that his counsel was ineffective by not raising double jeopardy as an affirmative defense. The court of appeals affirmed in a published decision, holding that Jeffries waived his double-jeopardy claim by pleading guilty a second time and that he had not shown that he was deprived of effective assistance of counsel.1 State v. Jeffries, 787 N.W.2d 654, 661–62 (Minn.App.2010). We granted review.


The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, provides that no person shall be “subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” U.S. Const. amend. V; Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784, 787, 89 S.Ct. 2056, 23 L.Ed.2d 707 (1969). The Minnesota Constitution similarly provides that “no person shall be put twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense.” Minn. Const. art. I, § 7. The Double Jeopardy Clause 2 protects against multiple punishments for the same offense and against a second prosecution after an acquittal or conviction. Brown v. Ohio, 432 U.S. 161, 165, 97 S.Ct. 2221, 53 L.Ed.2d 187 (1977); accord State v. Humes, 581 N.W.2d 317, 320 (Minn.1998). In Minnesota, a defendant is convicted when the district court accepts and records a guilty plea. Minn.Stat. § 609.02, subd. 5 (2010).

Jeffries argues that there was a violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause in this case because he was subjected to a second prosecution after an earlier conviction for the same offense. The State argues that Jeffries was never convicted in connection with his first guilty plea because the district court did not unconditionally accept his guilty plea and because it was not recorded. 3 The State further argues that Jeffries forfeited his double-jeopardy claim by entering the second guilty plea.

Determining whether Jeffries was convicted when the district court pronounced him guilty raises two questions: (1) did the district court unconditionally accept Jeffries' guilty plea, and (2) did it...

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