State v. Alston
The claim that an information fails to charge an offense is reviewable at any time during the pendency of the proceedings. Ira Alston appealed from the judgment of conviction rendered following his guilty plea to the crime of possessing a weapon or dangerous instrument in a correctional institution in violation of C.G.S. §53a-174a. He claimed, first, that the court improperly accepted his plea because it was not made voluntarily. The Appellate Court disagreed and affirmed the judgment. The defendant argued that his statements during the plea canvass reflected that his plea was coerced, rather than voluntary. The plea was coerced, he asserted, because it resulted from the denial of his right to the effective assistance of counsel. During the plea canvass, the defendant expressed his belief that with his public defender's representation his chances for success at trial were low. His statements reflected that he personally considered the options available to him and decided that entering a guilty plea was the best option available. He unambiguously explained that his decision was based on his careful assessment of his available options and chances for success at trial. In this sense, the plea was demonstrably voluntary. Nothing in his statements suggested that he lacked the freedom to choose between pleading guilty or proceeding to trial. The defendant also claimed that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the information failed to state all of the essential elements of the crime with which he stood charged. He argued that the information did not allege that he committed a crime because it failed to allege the manner in which he used the object found in his possession. The Appellate Court has held that an information that states the exact section and subsection of the statute under which a defendant is charged, with the time and place of the alleged unlawful event is sufficient to charge a defendant with such offense. Here, the charging instrument surpassed such minimum requirements, articulating each of the statute's essential elements. The information did not fail to state an offense because it was not articulated in accordance with the definition of certain words and phrases appearing in C.G.S. §53a-174a. There was no support in the law that this more detailed type of information was required.