RULE 11. PLEAS
1 (a) Entering a Plea.
2 (1) In General. A defendant may plead not guilty or guilty.
3 (2) Conditional Plea.
With the consent of the court and the prosecuting
attorney, a A defendant may enter a conditional plea of guilty, reserving in writing
5 the right to have an appellate court review an adverse determination of a specified
6 pretrial motion. The defendant's attorney and the prosecuting attorney must
7 consent to the conditional plea in a writing filed with the court. If the court accepts
8 the conditional plea, it must enter an order. The resulting judgment must specify it
9 is conditional. A defendant who prevails on appeal must be allowed to withdraw
10 the plea.
11 (3) Failure to Enter a Plea. If a defendant refuses to enter a plea, the court
12 must enter a plea of not guilty.
13 (b) Advice to defendant.
14 (1) The court may not accept a plea of guilty without first, by addressing the
15 defendant personally [except as provided in Rule 43(b)] in open court, informing
16 the defendant of and determining that the defendant understands the following:
17 (A) the right to plead not guilty, or having already so pleaded, to persist in
18 that plea;
19 (B) the right to a jury trial;
20 (C) the right to be represented by counsel at trial and at every other stage of
21 the proceeding and, if necessary, the right to have the counsel provided under Rule
23 (D) the right at trial to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, to be
24 protected from compelled self-incrimination, to testify and present evidence, and
25 to compel the attendance of witnesses;
26 (E) the defendant's waiver of these trial rights if the court accepts a plea of
28 (F) the nature of each charge to which the defendant is pleading;
29 (G) any maximum possible penalty, including imprisonment, fine, and
30 mandatory fee;
31 (H) any mandatory minimum penalty;
32 (I) the court's authority to order restitution; and
33 (J) that, if convicted, a defendant who is not a United States citizen may be
34 removed from the United States, denied citizenship, and denied admission to the
35 United States in the future.
36 (2) Ensuring That a Plea is Voluntary. Before accepting a plea of guilty, the
37 court must address the defendant personally in open court, unless the defendant's
38 presence is not required under Rule 43(c), and determine that the plea is voluntary
39 and did not result from force, threats, or promises other than promises in a plea
40 agreement. The court must also inquire whether the defendant's willingness to
41 plead guilty results from discussion between the prosecuting attorney and the
42 defendant or the defendant's attorney.
43 (3) Determining the Factual Basis for a Plea. Before entering judgment on a
44 guilty plea, the court must determine that there is a factual basis for the plea.
45 (4) Acknowledgment by Defendant. Before entering judgment on a guilty
46 plea, the court must determine that the defendant either:
47 (A) acknowledges facts exist that support the guilty plea; or
48 (B) while maintaining innocence, acknowledges that the guilty plea is
49 knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently made by the defendant and that evidence
50 exists from which the trier of fact could reasonably conclude that the defendant
51 committed the crime.
52 (c) Plea Agreement Procedure.
53 (1) In General. The prosecuting attorney and the defendant's attorney, or the
54 defendant when acting pro se, may discuss and reach a plea agreement. The court
55 must not participate in these discussions. If the defendant pleads guilty to either a
56 charged offense or a lesser or related offense, the plea agreement may specify that
57 the prosecuting attorney will:
58 (A) not bring, or will move to dismiss, other charges;
59 (B) recommend, or agree not to oppose the defendant's request, that a
60 particular sentence is appropriate; or
61 (C) agree that a specific sentence or sentencing range is the appropriate
62 disposition of the case.
63 (2) Disclosing a Plea Agreement. The parties must disclose the plea
64 agreement in open court when the plea is offered, unless the court for good cause
65 allows the parties to disclose the plea agreement in camera.
66 (3) Judicial Consideration of a Plea Agreement.
67 (A) To the extent the plea agreement is of the type specified in Rule
68 11(c)(1)(A) or (C), the court may accept the agreement, reject it, or defer a
69 decision until the court has reviewed the presentence report.
70 (B) To the extent the plea agreement is of the type specified in Rule
71 11(c)(1)(B), the court must advise the defendant that the defendant has no right to
72 withdraw the plea if the court does not follow the recommendation or request.
73 (4) Accepting a Plea Agreement. If the court accepts the plea agreement, it
74 must inform the defendant that, to the extent the plea agreement is of the type
75 specified in Rule 11(c)(1)(A) or (C), the agreed disposition will be included in the
77 (5) Rejecting a Plea Agreement. If the court rejects a plea agreement
78 containing provisions of the type specified in Rule 11(c)(1)(A) or (C), the court
79 must do the following on the record and in open court:
80 (A) inform the parties that the court rejects the plea agreement;
81 (B) advise the defendant personally that the court is not required to follow
82 the plea agreement and give the defendant an opportunity to withdraw the plea;
84 (C) advise the defendant personally that if the plea is not withdrawn, the
85 court may dispose of the case less favorably toward the defendant than the plea
86 agreement contemplated.
87 (6) Time of Plea Agreement Procedure. Except for good cause shown,
88 notification to the court of the existence of a plea agreement must be given at the
89 arraignment or at such other time, prior to trial, as may be fixed by the court.
90 (d) Withdrawing a Guilty Plea.
91 (1) In general. A defendant may withdraw a plea of guilty:
92 (A) before the court accepts the plea, for any reason or no reason; or
93 (B) after the court accepts the plea, but before it imposes sentence if:
94 (i) the court rejects a plea agreement under Rule 11(c)(5); or
95 (ii) the defendant can show a fair and just reason for the withdrawal.
96 (2) Finality of a Guilty Plea. Unless the defendant proves that withdrawal is
97 necessary to correct a manifest injustice, the defendant may not withdraw a plea of
98 guilty after the court has imposed sentence.
99 (3) Prosecution Reliance on Plea. If the prosecution has been substantially
100 prejudiced by reliance on the defendant's plea, the court may deny a plea
101 withdrawal request.
102 (e) Admissibility or Inadmissibility of a Plea, Plea Discussions, and Related
103 Statements. The admissibility or inadmissibility of a plea, a plea discussion, and
104 any related statement is governed by N.D.R.Ev. 410.
105 (f) Recording the Proceedings. A verbatim record of the proceedings at
106 which the defendant enters a plea must be made. If there is a plea of guilty, the
107 record must include the court's inquiries and advice to the defendant required
108 under Rule 11(b) and (c).
109 (g) Defendant's Presence at Plea Proceeding. A plea of guilty may be made
110 only by the defendant, in open court, unless the defendant is a corporation, in
111 which case it may be made by counsel; or in a non-felony case, the defendant may
112 petition to enter a plea of guilty as provided in Rule 43(b).
113 EXPLANATORY NOTE
114 Rule 11 was amended, effective March 1, 1986; March 1, 1990; March 1,
115 1996; March 1, 2006; June 1, 2006; March 1, 2010; March 1, 2016;________.
116 Rule 11 is similar to Fed.R.Crim.P. 11. The rule is designed to accomplish a
117 number of objectives: (1) it prescribes the advice that the court must give to ensure
118 the defendant who pleads guilty has made an informed plea; and (2) it provides for
119 a plea agreement procedure designed to give recognition to the propriety of plea
120 discussions between counsel, to bring the existence of a plea agreement out in
121 open court, and to provide methods for court acceptance or rejection of the plea
123 Rule 11 was amended, effective March 1, 2006, in response to the
124 December 1, 2002, revision of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The
125 language and organization of the rule were changed to make the rule more easily
126 understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules.
127 Subdivision (a) provides for the various alternative pleas which the
128 defendant may enter. This subdivision does not permit a defendant to enter a plea
129 of nolo contendere and differs from the federal rule in that respect.
130 Paragraph (a)(2) was adopted effective March 1, 1986. This provision
131 allows the defendant, with the approval of the court and the consent of the
132 prosecuting attorney, to enter a conditional plea of guilty and reserve in writing the
133 right, on appeal of the adverse determination of any specified pretrial motion. The
134 conditional plea procedure is intended to conserve prosecutorial and judicial
135 resources and advance speedy trial objectives by avoiding the necessity of a trial
136 simply to preserve pretrial issues for appellate review.
137 Paragraph (a)(2) was amended, effective_______________, to clarify the
138 procedure for entering a conditional of guilty.
139 Subdivision (b) prescribes the advice which the court must give to the
140 defendant as a prerequisite to the acceptance of a plea of guilty. The court is
141 required to determine that a plea is made with an understanding of the nature of the
142 charge and the consequences of the plea. Subdivision (b) also establishes the
143 requirement that the court address the defendant personally.
144 Paragraph (b)(1) requires the court to determine if the defendant
145 understands the nature of the charge and requires the court to inform the defendant
146 of and determine that the defendant understands the mandatory minimum
147 punishment, if any, and the maximum possible punishment. The objective is to
148 insure that the defendant knows what minimum sentence the judge MUST impose
149 and the maximum sentence the judge MAY impose and, further, to explain the
150 consecutive sentencing possibilities when the defendant pleads to more than one
151 offense. This provision is included so that the judicial warning effectively serves to
152 overcome subsequent objections by the defendant that the defendant's counsel gave
153 the defendant erroneous information. Paragraph (b)(1) also specifies the
154 constitutional rights the defendant waives by a plea of guilty and ensures a
155 knowing and intelligent waiver of counsel is made. A similar requirement is found
156 in Rule 5(b) governing the initial appearance.
157 Paragraph (b)(1) was amended, effective June 1, 2006, to remove a
158 reference to court appointment of counsel for indigents. Courts ceased appointing
159 counsel for indigents on January 1, 2006, when the North Dakota Commission on
160 Legal Counsel for Indigents became responsible for defense of indigents.
161 Paragraph (b)(1) was amended, effective March 1, 2016, to include a new
162 subparagraph (J) requiring the court to include a general statement that there may
163 be immigration consequences of conviction in the advice provided to the defendant
164 before the court accepts a plea of guilty or nolo contendere. The amendment,
165 which is based on an amendment to Fed.R.Crim.P. 11, mandates a generic
166 warning, not specific advice concerning the defendant's individual situation.
167 Paragraph (b)(2) requires the court to determine that a plea of guilty is
168 voluntary before accepting it. Paragraph (b)(2), together with subdivision (c),
169 affords the court an adequate basis for rejecting an improper plea agreement
170 induced by threats or inappropriate promises. The rule specifies that the court
171 personally address the defendant in determining the voluntariness of the plea.
172 Paragraph (b)(3) requires that the court not enter judgment on a plea of
173 guilty without making an inquiry to ensure that there is a factual basis for the plea.
174 Paragraph (b)(4) was added to the rule, effective March 1, 2014, and
175 requires the court to obtain an acknowledgment from the defendant on whether the
176 defendant is admitting guilt, or instead is maintaining innocence but pleading
177 guilty because evidence exists from which the trier of fact could reasonably
178 conclude the defendant committed the crime.
179 Subdivision (c) provides for a plea agreement procedure. In doing so it
180 gives recognition to the propriety of plea discussions and plea agreements,
181 provided they are disclosed in open court and subject to acceptance or rejection by
182 the trial judge. It is believed that where the defendant by the defendant's plea aids
183 in insuring prompt and certain application of correctional measures, the proper
184 ends of the criminal justice system are furthered because swift and certain
185 punishment serves the ends of both general deterrence and the rehabilitation of the
186 individual defendant. The procedure described in subdivision (c) is designed to
187 prevent abuse of plea discussions and agreements by providing appropriate and
188 adequate safeguards.
189 Paragraph (c)(1) specifies that both the attorney for the prosecution and the
190 attorney for the defense, or the defendant when acting pro se, participate in plea
191 discussions. It also makes clear that there are three possible concessions that may
192 be made in a plea agreement: first, the charge may be reduced to a lesser or related
193 offense; second, the attorney for the prosecution may agree not to recommend or
194 not oppose the imposition of a particular sentence; or third, the attorney for the
195 prosecution may promise to move for a dismissal of other charges. The court is not
196 permitted to participate in plea discussions because of the possibility that the
197 defendant would believe that the defendant would not receive a fair trial, if no
198 agreement had been reached or the court rejected the agreement, and a subsequent
199 trial ensued before the same judge.
200 Paragraph (c)(2) provides that the parties must disclose any plea agreement
201 in open court or, for good cause, in camera. Paragraph (c)(3) gives the court, upon
202 notice of the plea agreement, the option of accepting or rejecting the agreement or
203 deferring its decision until receipt of the presentence report. The court must inform
204 the defendant that it may choose not to accept a sentence recommendation made as
205 part of a plea agreement. Decisions on plea agreements are left to the discretion of
206 the individual trial judge.
207 Paragraph (c)(4) requires the court, if it accepts the plea agreement, to
208 inform the defendant that it will embody in the judgment and sentence the
209 disposition provided in the plea agreement, or one more favorable to the defendant.
210 This provision serves the dual purpose of informing the defendant immediately
211 that the agreement will be implemented.
212 Paragraph (c)(5) requires the court, on the record, upon its rejection of the
213 plea agreement, to inform the defendant of this fact and to advise the defendant
214 personally, in open court, or for good cause, in camera, that the court is not bound
215 by the plea agreement. The defendant must be afforded an opportunity to withdraw
216 the defendant's plea and must be advised that if the defendant persists in the
217 defendant's guilty plea, the disposition of the case may be less favorable to the
218 defendant than contemplated by the plea agreement.
219 Paragraph (c)(6) requires that the court be notified of the existence of a plea
220 agreement at the arraignment or at another time prior to trial fixed by the court
221 unless it can be shown that for good cause this was not done. Having a plea
222 entered at this stage provides a reasonable time for the defendant to consult with
223 counsel and for counsel to complete any plea discussions with the attorney for the
224 prosecution. The objective of the provision is to make clear that the court has
225 authority to require a plea agreement to be disclosed sufficiently in advance of trial
226 so as not to interfere with the efficient scheduling of criminal cases.
227 A new subdivision (d) on plea withdrawal was transferred to Rule 11 from
228 Rule 32 effective March 1, 2010.
229 Subdivision (e) makes it clear that N.D.R.Ev. 410 governs the admissibility
230 of plea discussions.
231 Subdivision (f) requires that a verbatim record be kept of the proceedings.
232 The record is important in the event of a post-conviction attack.
233 Subdivision (g) was amended, effective March 1, 1996, to reference Rule
234 43(c). In a non-felony case, if the defendant wants to plead guilty without
235 appearing in court, a written form must be used which advises the defendant of his
236 or her constitutional rights and creates a record showing that the plea was made
237 voluntarily, knowingly, and understandingly. See Appendix Form 17. A court may
238 accept a guilty plea via contemporaneous audio or audiovisual transmission by
239 reliable electronic means using the procedure set out in N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. Rule
241 Rule 11 does not include a subdivision entitled harmless error and differs
242 from the 1983 amendment to Fed.R.Crim.P. 11(h) in that respect. Rule 52(a),
243 Harmless Error, is intended to have general application to all the criminal rules of
245 SOURCES: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of ____________; April
246 23-24, 2015, page 14; January 29-30, 2015, page 23; January 31-February 1, 2013,
247 page 12; September 27, 2012, pages 18-21; January 29-30, 2009, pages 11-13,
248 19-20; April 27-28, 2006, pages 2-5, 15-17; September 22-23, 2005, pages 17-18;
249 September 23-24, 2004, pages 5-9; April 29-30, 2004, pages 28-30; January 26-27,
250 1995, pages 5-6; September 29-30, 1994, pages 2-4; April 28-29, 1994, pages
251 10-12; April 20, 1989, page 4; December 3, 1987, page 15; June 22, 1984, pages
252 11-16; April 26, 1984, pages 2-3; April 26-27, 1979, pages 4-7; May 25-26, 1978,
253 pages 31-34; March 16-17, 1978, page 20; January 12-13, 1978, pages 5-6;
254 January 10, 1977, page 4; April 24-26, 1973, pages 8-9; December 11-15, 1972,
255 page 43; May 11-12, 1972, pages 2-6; November 18-20, 1971, pages 34-38;
256 September 17-18, 1970, pages 1-6; May 3-4, 1968, page 9.
257 STATUTES AFFECTED:
258 SUPERSEDED: N.D.C.C. §§ 29-13-02, 29-14-01, 29-14-02, 29-14-14,
259 29-14-15, 29-14-16, 29-14-17, 29-14-18, 29-14-19, 29-14-20, 29-14-21, 29-14-22,
260 29-14-23, 29-14-24, 29-14-26, 29-14-27, 33-12-17, 33-12-18.
261 CONSIDERED: N.D.C.C. § 31-13-03.
262 CROSS REFERENCE: N.D.R.Crim.P. 43 (Defendant's Presence);
263 N.D.R.Crim.P. 44 (Right to and Appointment of Counsel); N.D.R.Ev. 410 (Offer
264 to Plead Guilty; Nolo Contendere; Withdrawn Plea of Guilty);
265 N.D.Sup.Ct.Admin.R. 52 (Contemporaneous Transmission by Reliable Electronic