OF JUDGMENT: 06/13/2018
FROM WHICH APPEALED: WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL
JUDGE: HON. RICHARD A. SMITH
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JULIUS CRAWFORD (PRO SE)
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
MATTHEW WYATT WALTON
CARLTON, P.J., TINDELL AND C. WILSON, JJ.
On October 10, 2016, Julius Crawford pled guilty to burglary
of a dwelling. On April 18, 2018, Crawford filed an
unsuccessful motion for post-conviction relief (PCR) in the
circuit court, arguing that (1) the facts surrounding his
case did not support a charge of burglary of a dwelling, (2)
his plea was not voluntary, and (3) he received ineffective
assistance of counsel. Crawford now appeals the circuit
court's dismissal of his PCR motion. Finding no error, we
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On February 26, 2016, a grand jury indicted Crawford for
burglary of a dwelling- house. Crawford was also indicted as
a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Annotated section
99-19-81 (Rev. 2014). On October 10, 2016, Crawford entered
an Alfordor best-interest plea, and the circuit
court found Crawford's plea was knowingly and voluntarily
made. The circuit court accepted Crawford's guilty plea
and sentenced him to fifteen years in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections, with twelve years to
serve, followed by three years of post-release supervision.
On April 18, 2018, Crawford filed a PCR motion with the
circuit court, arguing as follows: (1) there was no factual
basis to support his guilty plea; (2) his plea was not
voluntary; and (3) he received ineffective assistance of
counsel. The circuit court found that an evidentiary hearing
was unnecessary in the matter, and finding no merit to
Crawford's arguments, the circuit court denied relief and
dismissed his PCR motion. Aggrieved, Crawford now appeals the
circuit court's ruling on his PCR motion and further
argues on appeal that the circuit court erred by ruling on
his PCR motion without first holding an evidentiary hearing.
This Court reviews the denial or dismissal of a PCR motion
for abuse of discretion, and "we will only disturb the
circuit court's decision if it is clearly
erroneous." West v. State, 226 So.3d 1238, 1239
(¶3) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017). The circuit court's
legal conclusions, however, are reviewed de novo.
Crawford argues that his guilty plea was involuntary because
there was an insufficient factual basis to support his plea.
"Before the trial court may accept a guilty plea, the
court must determine that the plea is voluntarily and
intelligently made and that there is a factual basis for the
plea." Venezia v. State, 203 So.3d 1, 2
(¶6) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016). The burglary conviction here
required evidentiary grounds of:
breaking and entering the dwelling house or inner door of
such dwelling house of another, whether armed with a deadly
weapon or not, and whether there shall be at the time some
human being in such dwelling house or not, with intent to
commit some crime therein . . . .
Miss. Code Ann. § 97-17-23(1) (Supp. 2008). Crawford
argues that no factual basis existed to satisfy the
"breaking" element, which is defined as "any
act of force, however slight, employed to effect an entrance
through any usual or unusual place of ingress, whether open,
partly open or closed." Naylor v. State, 248
So.3d 793, 796 (¶10) (Miss. 2018) (internal quotation
marks omitted) (quoting Johnson v. State, 235 So.3d
1404, 1410 (¶14) (Miss. 2017)).
When determining whether a sufficient factual basis existed
at the trial-court level, we review the entire record.
Smith v. State, 86 So.3d 276, 280-81 (¶11)
(Miss. Ct. App. 2012). "[A]n admission of guilt is not
essential for a constitutionally valid guilty plea" so
long as some factual basis for each requisite element exists
for the plea. Id. at 280 (¶10). "A
sufficient factual basis requires 'an evidentiary
foundation in the record which is sufficiently specific to
allow the court to determine that the defendant's conduct
was within the ambit of that defined as criminal.'"
Id. at (¶11) (quoting Lott v. State,
597 So.2d 627, 628 (Miss. 1992)). Furthermore, "[t]he
factual basis must show each essential element of the
offense." Id. (quoting Carter v.
State, 775 So.2d 91, 99 (¶35) (Miss. 1999)).
We find that a factual basis existed for Crawford's plea
for several reasons. First, when the circuit court asked for
a factual basis for the plea, the State read a statement
aloud that mirrored ...