Monday, July 25, 2011

DUI Appeal - Indiana Says Can't Plead Guilty and Claim Innocence

In Wingham v. State of Indiana, 780 N.E.2d 1164, the defendant (who had previously pled guilty to OWI) filed a post-conviction petition alleging that his plea should not have been accepted, because he maintained his innocence during the plea. The appeals court herein agreed. The Court of Appeals held that trial court did not have adequate factual basis to accept guilty plea from defendant who denied being intoxicated at time of accident. The plea colloquy was as follows:

Court: Had you been drinking alcoholic beverages before that time?

Wingham: Yes.

Court: And were you intoxicated?

Wingham: No.

Court: Do you understand that one of the elements of this crime is that you were intoxicated at the time you were driving the vehicle and if you plead guilty today, you admit that you were intoxicated?

Wingham: Yes.

Court: Did the police officer offer you a breath test?

Wingham: Yes, sir.

Court: And was the result of the breath test .08?

Wingham: Yes, sir.

In holding the plea insufficient, the court stated:

"We hold, as a matter of law, that a judge may not accept a plea of guilty when the defendant both pleads guilty and maintains his innocence at the same time. To accept such a plea constitutes reversible error."

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