February 2019


A. MISDEMEANOR TRESPASS NOT LESSER-INCLUDED OFFENSE OF FIRST-DEGREE BURGLARY: Appellant pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary while possessing a firearm and being an ineligible person in possession of a firearm. He argues on appeal his plea to first-degree burglary was inaccurate and invalid. Specifically, he claims his plea testimony negated the element of entering the building “without consent” and failed to demonstrate he “committed a crime while in the building.” Appellant was found on a cot in a boarded up tribal house with a revolver and heroin near him a needle, and money in his pants pocket. Appellant was ineligible to possess a firearm at that time.
Appellant testified at his plea hearing that his cousin used to be a tenant of the building but that he knew it was owned by the Leech Lake Housing Authority at the time he entered it. On appeal, he argues he had a claim of right to enter the house because he believed he had his cousin’s permission, and the first-degree burglary statute requires proof he entered without a claim of right, as trespass is a lesser-included offense of burglary. However, the Court of Appeals clarifies that misdemeanor trespass is not a lesser-included offense of burglary, because the burglary statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 1, plainly does not require proof that a defendant entered a building without a claim of right. Appellant testified he did not enter the house with the legal possessor’s content.
Appellant also argues that because he possessed a firearm before entering the building, he had already committed the crime of being a felon in possession when he entered, and therefore did not commit a crime while in the building. The Court of Appeals rejects this argument, concluding that, even though Appellant possessed a firearm before he entered, he still possessed the firearm inside the building, which is sufficient to satisfy the first-degree burglary element of committing a crime while in the building. Appellant’s conviction is affirmed. State v. David James Jones, Nos. A17-1840, A17-1841, N.W.2d , 2018 WL 6442304 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 10, 2018).


A. KNOWLEDGE ANOTHER PERSON IS STORING METH PARAPHERNALIA IN PRIVATE BEDROOM OF CHILD’S HOME INSUFFICIENT TO PROVE CRIME OF STORING METH PARAPHERNALIA IN A CHILD’S HOME: Appellant and her two children temporarily stayed at her mother-in-law’s house with Appellant’s husband, who permanently lived at the house. Appellant’s husband allowed a drug dealer to live in the basement rent-free to satisfy a debt he owed to the dealer. Appellant was aware the dealer dealt drugs out of the basement. After an anonymous tip and a garbage pull, police searched the house, finding methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the dealer’s bedroom in the basement, as well as marijuana and a pipe in Appellant’s bedroom upstairs. Appellant admitted to taking a hit from a methamphetamine pipe in the dealer’s bedroom at one time. Appellant was charged with various drug offenses, including storage of methamphetamine paraphernalia in a child’s residence. A jury found Appellant guilty.
Minn. Stat. § 152.137, subd. 2(a)(4), provides, “No person may knowingly engage in any of the following activities in… the residence of a child[:]… storing any methamphetamine paraphernalia.” “Engage in” and “storing” are not defined, however the Court of Appeals employs dictionary definitions of the words to determine their ordinary usage and concludes that the statute is not ambiguous and that the statute’s plain meaning “prohibits a person from participating and taking part in the activity of keeping methamphetamine paraphernalia for future use in a child’s residence” (emphasis added). Thus, mere knowledge that another person is storing paraphernalia in a private bedroom of the home is insufficient.
Ultimately, the Court of Appeals finds that the circumstances proved at trial “do not preclude a reasonable inference that [Appellant] did not participate in the activity of storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in the home.” There was no evidence that Appellant shared the room with the dealer, that she had any ownership or control over who could live in the house, or that the bedroom was not the dealer’s private space. Appellant’s conviction is reversed. State v. Jessica Lynn Maack, No. A18-0315, 2018 WL 6729763 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 24, 2018).


A. CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT WITH VULNERABLE COMPLAINANT EXCUSED WHEN COMPLAINANT IS ACTOR’S SPOUSE AT TIME OF OFFENSE: The State appeals from the pretrial dismissal of criminal sexual conduct charges against Respondent. Respondent was charged with third-degree and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for encounters with G.H., who functions at the mental capacity of a seven to eight-year-old and who the State alleged was “mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.” Shortly before trial, Respondent and G.H. married. The district court granted Respondent’s motion to dismiss, finding that Minn. Stat. § 609.349 prohibits criminal culpability if the complainant is the actor’s legal spouse.
Both parties on appeal argue the statute is ambiguous, but the State argues it excuses criminal sexual conduct only if the defendant and victim are married at the time of the offense, while Respondent argues the defendant and victim need only be married at any time before trial. The Court of Appeals agrees the statute is ambiguous, but holds that only one construction is reasonable: the protections accorded a legal spouse in section 609.349 apply only if the actor is married to the victim at the time of the alleged offense, unless the couple is legally separated (emphasis in original). Such a construction harmonizes the entire text of the statute and gives effect to the legislature’s intent to protect vulnerable adults.
Because Respondent and G.H. were not married at the time of the offense, the legal-spouse provision of section 609.349 does not excuse his conduct, and the district court’s pretrial dismisses of the charges against Respondent are reversed. State v. Gosewisch, Nos. A18-1142, A18-1143, 2018 WL 6837739 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 31, 2018).