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Henry v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

December 16, 2015

ELTON HENRY, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff)

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County. The Honorable Catherine R. Rogers, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Office of the Public Defender: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel; and David E. Westling, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel.

Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Joshua C. Eames, Assistant Attorney General.

Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.

OPINION

Page 786

KAUTZ, Justice.

[¶1] Pursuant to a plea agreement with the State of Wyoming, Elton Henry pleaded no contest to one count of first degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of second degree sexual abuse of a minor, both felonies. He challenges his convictions on appeal, claiming the district court did not properly advise him that his future employment opportunities could be affected by loss of the privilege to possess firearms. We conclude he waived his right to appeal this issue in his plea agreement and, in any event, the district court's advisement was sufficient.

[¶2] We affirm.

Page 787

ISSUES

[¶3] Mr. Henry presents the following issue on appeal:

I. Did the trial court commit reversible error by failing to advise Mr. Henry of his rights as required by W.S. § 7-11-507?

The State raises an additional issue, which we rephrase:

I. Did Mr. Henry waive his right to appeal a claimed error in advisements in his plea agreement?

FACTS

[¶4] The underlying facts of this case are not directly relevant to the issues on appeal. In summary, the State charged Mr. Henry with nine felony counts of sexual abuse of his two young grandchildren. The State and Mr. Henry entered into a written plea agreement in which he pleaded no contest to one count of first degree sexual abuse of a minor under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-314(a)(i) (LexisNexis 2015)[1] and one count of second degree sexual abuse of a minor under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-315(a)(ii) (LexisNexis 2015),[2] and the State dismissed the other charges. The plea agreement also contained a specific waiver of Mr. Henry's rights to appeal and to object to the agreement, his pleas, and his convictions.

[¶5] Prior to accepting his no contest pleas, the district court advised Mr. Henry in open court that the legal consequences of pleading no contest were the same as pleading guilty. The court also explained:

THE COURT: There are a number of important consequences that result from pleading guilty to a felony. A felony conviction may deprive you of certain rights, such as the right to vote, to hold public office, or sit on a jury, and could affect you ability to obtain certain employment or licenses.
A felony conviction may affect your right to own or possess firearms or explosive devices. You should assume that you may never be allowed to have a gun.

[¶6] At sentencing, the district court rejected Mr. Henry's request for a suspended sentence. It ordered him to serve twenty-five to thirty years in prison on the first degree conviction and eighteen to twenty years in prison on the second degree conviction, with the terms to run concurrently. Mr. Henry filed a timely notice of appeal.

DISCUSSION

1. General Law on the Firearms Advisement

[¶7] Mr. Henry claims his convictions are invalid because the district court failed to comply with Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-11-507 (LexisNexis 2015). That statute states:

(a) No judgment of conviction shall be entered upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to any charge which may result in the disqualification of the defendant to possess firearms pursuant to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § § 922(g)(1), (9) and 924(a)(2) or other federal law unless the defendant was advised in open court by the judge:
(i) Of the collateral consequences that may arise from that conviction pursuant to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § § ...

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