Friday, July 27, 2012

Need factual basis for Alford plea

Donald R. Snapp won in State v. Ebaben, No. 102,129 (Kan. July 20, 2012), reversing the district court's denial of Mr. Ebaben's motion to withdraw his plea in a Marion County sexual battery prosecution.  The KSC detailed the somewhat convoluted process by which Mr. Ebaben entered an Alford plea and reviewed K.S.A. 22-3210(a)(4), which requires that for a plea of guilty or no contest, the district court must be satisfied there is a factual basis for the plea:
A comparison of the facts in Ebaben's case with our prior caselaw demonstrates the recitation at the plea hearing was simply too bare-boned to conclude on review that the trial court fulfilled its statutory duty of "satisfying itself" that a factual basis for the plea existed. Without fulfilling that duty, the trial court as a matter of law had no basis to find that Ebaben's plea was fairly and understandingly made. We hold the trial court abused its discretion in finding a sufficient factual basis to support the plea.
The KSC went on to hold that, absent a proper factual basis, the plea cannot be considered knowing and voluntary:
K.S.A. 22-3210(a)(4)'s purpose of ensuring that a plea is knowingly and voluntarily entered is defeated if the district court is presented with no evidence to establish the defendant's conduct falls within the elements of the charged crime.
As a result, the KSC held that the district court was required to allow Mr. Ebaben to withdraw his plea.

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