A guilty plea by a Washington criminal defendant must be knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. A plea can only be voluntary if the defendant understands both the nature of the charges against him or her and the consequences of pleading guilty. The trial court must be “satisfied that there is a factual basis for the plea.” CrR 4.2.
A defendant recently challenged his guilty plea, arguing there was not a sufficient factual basis for the sentencing enhancement. According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the defendant pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter with a deadly weapon sentencing enhancement. The defendant gave a brief statement of guilt stating he “acted recklessly and caused the death of [the victim],” with no mention of a deadly weapon. Although there was a box on the form to indicate the defendant did not make a statement and had agreed the court could review other documents for the factual basis, it was not checked.
The trial court accepted the plea. The defendant was sentenced to 158 months, increased to 182 months with the sentencing enhancement.