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People v. Seadorf

Court of Appeals of Michigan

November 21, 2017

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JAMES DANIEL SEADORF, Defendant-Appellant.

         Kent Circuit Court LC No. 16-000711-FH

          Before: Swartzle, P.J., and Sawyer and Markey, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         Defendant, James Daniel Seadorf, appeals by delayed leave his convictions for child sexually abusive activity, MCL 750.145c(2); and using a computer to commit a crime, MCL 752.797(3)(d). Defendant's convictions were entered pursuant to a plea agreement. The trial court sentenced defendant to 3 to 20 years' imprisonment for the child sexually abusive activity conviction and to one to seven years' imprisonment for the using of a computer to commit a crime conviction. We affirm.

         This case arises from the viewing of child sexually abusive material between the dates of August 1, 2017, and October 27, 2017. During this period, defendant, a 34-year-old male, used a computer to download child pornography for personal possession and use at home. Defendant was charged with four criminal counts: Count 1, commercial child sexually abusive activity, MCL 750.145c(2); Count 2, using a computer to commit a crime, MCL 752.797(3)(f), punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years; Count 3, possession of child sexually abusive material, MCL 750.145c(4); and Count 4, using a computer to commit a crime, MCL 752.797(3)(d), punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years.

         Pursuant to a plea agreement, defendant pleaded guilty to Counts 1 and 4 in exchange for the dismissal of Counts 2 and 3. Defendant admitted to downloading the child sexually abusive material. Upon searching defendant's phone, police officers located several photo albums containing child sexually abusive material. A further investigation into defendant's home computer revealed several images and videos of child sexually abusive material saved on defendant's computer hard drive. The trial court accepted defendant's guilty plea.

         Defendant appeared before the trial court for sentencing and received concurrent terms of incarceration as noted above. The sentencing guidelines were determined to be 45 to 75 months for the most serious felony. But by agreement, the sentencing guidelines were modified to 30 to 50 months. Before sentencing, a discussion in chambers took place indicating that an appropriate sentence for defendant would be 36 months. Defendant asked the trial court to impose this as a minimum sentence, and the trial court responded that it was "sentencing within the guidelines, consistent with the plea agreement."

         Defendant filed a Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea in Kent County Circuit Court. Defendant argued that his guilty plea to a 20-year felony should be vacated because he was not involved in the production, distribution, or promotion of child sexually abusive activity. Instead, defendant stated he only downloaded the child sexually abusive material; thus, he was guilty of the four-year maximum felony under MCL 750.145c(4) and not the 20-year felony under MCL 750.145c(2). The trial court denied the motion.

         A trial court's decision on a motion to withdraw a guilty plea made after sentencing will not be disturbed on appeal unless there is a clear abuse of discretion. People v Effinger, 212 Mich.App. 67, 69; 536 N.W.2d 809 (1995). "An abuse of discretion occurs when the decision results in an outcome falling outside the range of principled outcomes." People v Fonville, 291 Mich.App. 363, 376; 804 N.W.2d 878 (2011). Questions of statutory interpretation are reviewed de novo. People v Flick, 487 Mich. 1, 8-9; 790 N.W.2d 295 (2010).

         Defendant first argues that the trial court abused its discretion by denying defendant's motion to withdraw guilty plea because his plea was not accurate. We disagree.

         A "defendant may file a motion to withdraw the plea within 6 months after sentence." MCR 6.310(C). Most importantly, "[a] defendant seeking to withdraw his or her plea after sentencing must demonstrate a defect in the plea-taking process." People v Brown, 492 Mich. 684, 693; 822 N.W.2d 208 (2012). If the trial court finds such an error, "the court must give the advice or make the inquiries necessary to rectify the error and then give the defendant the opportunity to elect to allow the plea and sentence to stand or to withdraw the plea." MCR 6.310(C). Once it has been accepted by the trial court, there is no absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea. Effinger, 212 Mich.App. at 69.

         When a "defendant pleads guilty, the court, by questioning the defendant, must establish support for a finding that the defendant is guilty of the offense charged or the offense to which the defendant is pleading. MCR 6.302(D)(1). "The court may not accept a plea of guilty . . . unless it is convinced that the plea is understanding, voluntary, and accurate." MCR 6.302(A).

         MCL 750.145c(2) provides:

A person who persuades, induces, entices, coerces, causes, or knowingly allows a child to engage in a child sexually abusive activity for the purpose of producing any child sexually abusive material, or a person who arranges for, produces, makes, copies, reproduces, or finances, or a person who attempts or prepares or conspires to arrange for, produce, make, copy, reproduce, or finance any child sexually abusive activity or child sexually abusive material for personal, distributional, or other purposes is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or a fine of not more than $100, 000.00, or both, if that person knows, has reason to know, or should reasonably be expected to know that the child is a child or that the child sexually abusive material includes a child ...

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