Appeals Court Reverses Trial Court’s Denial of Withdrawal of Guilty Plea
Ryan Kutnyak, who was convicted of gross sexual imposition in Wood County Common Pleas Court, should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea before he was sentenced, according to the Sixth District Court of Appeals.
In a unanimous decision authored by Judge Peter M. Handwork, the appeals court found that the trial court committed an error, reversed the decision and sent the case back for further proceedings.
The prosecution alleged that the victim and Kutnyak went to a bar on August 2, 2009 and returned to her home. She fell asleep and awoke to find Kutnyak sexually assaulting her, prosecutors charged. He pleaded guilty on November 30, 2009 and was convicted the next day. Before the scheduled sentencing hearing, Kutnyak retained a new lawyer and moved to withdraw his guilty plea.
Judge Handwork cited case law that states there’s no absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea; that “a presentence motion to withdraw a guilty plea should be freely and liberally granted;” and that whether to allow the withdrawal is at the discretion of the trial court.
“Generally, an appellate court defers to the trial court because it is in better position to evaluate the acceptance of the plea and appellant’s motivation to withdraw the plea,” Judge Handwork wrote. “However, in this case, we find that appellant has shown the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion to withdraw his plea.
“Appellant has demonstrated that his motivation for withdrawing his plea is based upon more than a change of heart; he has identified evidence which, if believed, would enable him to obtain an acquittal. The trial court erred in considering appellant’s prior admission of the facts in open court when determining whether he should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. Anyone who enters a guilty plea must admit to the facts presented by the prosecution and this fact has no bearing on determining the motivation for withdrawing the plea.”
Judges Arlene Singer and Stephen A. Yarbrough concurred in the July 27 opinion.
State v. Kutnyak, 2012-Ohio-3410
Criminal Appeal From: Wood County Common Pleas Court
Judgment Appealed From Is: Reversed and Remanded
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: July 27, 2012
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