Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula
Criminal Appeal from the Ashtabula County Court of Common
Pleas, Case No. 2018 CR 00349.
Nicholas A. Iarocci, Ashtabula County Prosecutor, and Shelley
M. Pratt, Assistant Prosecutor, Ashtabula County Courthouse,
F. Borkowski, Jr., (For Defendant-Appellant).
CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, J.
Appellant, Joseph Knezeak, appeals from the judgment of the
Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, finding him guilty of
one count of burglary, after entering a plea of guilty to the
same. Appellant challenges the knowing, intelligent, and
voluntary nature of his plea. We affirm.
Appellant was indicted on one count of burglary, in violation
of R.C. 2911.12(A)(2), a felony of the second degree; one
count of grand theft, in violation of R.C.
2913.02(A)(1)(B)(4), a felony of the third degree; and one
count of theft, in violation of R.C. 2913.02(A)(1)(B)(2), a
felony of the fifth degree. Though initially appellant
pleaded not guilty, ultimately, appellant entered a plea of
guilty to the burglary count; the remaining counts were
nolled by the trial court. Appellant was then sentenced to a
jointly recommended term of three-years imprisonment.
Appellant now appeals and assigns the following as error:
"Appellant's guilty plea was not knowingly,
intelligently, and voluntarily made."
A guilty plea entered in a criminal case must be made
knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily to be valid under
both the United States and Ohio Constitutions. Boykin v.
Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 241 (1969); State v.
Engle, 74 Ohio St.3d 525, 527 (1996). Crim.R. 11
"was adopted to ensure that certain information
necessary for entering a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary
plea would be conveyed to a defendant." State v.
Gensert, 11th Dist. Trumbull No. 2015-T-0084,
When determining whether the trial court has met its
obligations under Crim.R. 11 in accepting a guilty plea,
appellate courts have distinguished between constitutional
and non-constitutional rights. With respect to the
constitutional rights, a trial court must advise a defendant
that, by pleading guilty, he or she is waiving: "(1) the
right to a jury trial, (2) the right to confront one's
accusers, (3) the right to compulsory process to obtain
witnesses, (4) the right to require the state to prove guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt, and (5) the privilege against
compulsory self-incrimination." State v. Veney,
120 Ohio St.3d 176, 2008-Ohio-5200 at syllabus. A trial court
must strictly comply with those provisions of Crim.R. 11(C)
that relate to the waiver of the constitutional rights and
the failure to do so invalidates the plea. Veney,
supra. "Strict compliance" does not require a
verbatim recitation of the rights being waived. State v.
Ballard, 66 Ohio St.2d 473, 480 (1981). Rather, the
standard requires the court to explain or refer to the rights
in a manner reasonably intelligible to the defendant entering
the guilty plea. Id.
In contrast, the remaining so-called non-constitutional
rights set forth under Crim.R. 11 require the court to: (1)
determine the defendant understands the nature of the
charge(s) and possesses an understanding of the legal and
practical effect(s) of the plea; (2) determine the defendant
understands the maximum penalty that could be imposed; and
(3) determine that the defendant is aware that, after
entering a guilty plea, the court may proceed to judgment and
sentence. State v. Nero, 56 Ohio St.3d 106, 107-108
(1990). Although literal compliance with Crim. R. 11 with
respect to the non-constitutional rights is preferred, an
advisement that substantially complies with the rule will
suffice. Nero, supra. A court substantially complies
where the record demonstrates the defendant, under the
totality of the circumstances, understood the implications of
the plea and the rights waived. Id.
Appellant does not take issue with the court's
advisements regarding the constitutional rights he waived.
And our review of the plea-hearing transcript demonstrates
the trial court thoroughly explained each constitutional
right appellant was waiving and appellant represented he
understood the rights and the consequences of waiving the
same. Moreover, appellant does not argue the trial court
failed to establish he understood the maximum penalty the
court could impose upon acceptance of the plea, nor does he
claim he was unaware that the court could proceed to judgment
and sentence after accepting the plea. Rather, appellant
asserts he did not have an adequate understanding of the
nature of the burglary offense to which he pleaded. He
specifically maintains he did not understand the element of
the offense that required the state to prove the structure
into which he entered was a habitation of a person who was
"present or likely to be present." We do not agree.
At the plea hearing, the trial court detailed each element of
the crime of burglary to which appellant was pleading guilty.
The court further elucidated the meaning of each element of
the crime towards the end of affording appellant a full
appreciation and understanding of what the state was required
to prove. Among these elements was the requirement that the
state prove that a person would be or would likely be present
in the habitation in question when appellant entered the
same. Appellant stated he understood that he was waiving his
right to have the state prove each element beyond a
reasonable doubt. The court subsequently queried: "And
of course when you say you're pleading guilty it means
you're admitting everything the state would have to prove
for you to be found guilty of Count 1. You understand
that?" Appellant responded in the affirmative. This
representation, unto itself, is sufficient to establish
appellant understood the nature of the charge and the
consequence of pleading guilty.
Later, during the plea colloquy, the court asked appellant to
explain, in his own words, the factual basis for the charge
to which he was pleading. Appellant responded:
I was out late at night, and Jeremy Hennesey - - he's a
heroin dealer and a meth dealer - - and I seen my girlfriend
on the back of his bike and I followed 'em to this house
that's his. It's [an] abandoned house, but he takes
girls there and he gives them meth. And I found out that my
girl was with him, and I got, I lost it. I got real mad and I
just went there and nobody was there, and I walked in his
house and I took everything and I took it to my house. And I
was just wanting him to come to my house and be a man. From
then, forgive what I say, but I wanted to beat his ass.