June 2023



Appellant reported his house was on fire, prompting both police and insurance investigations, which concluded the fire was set intentionally. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of first-degree arson. First-degree arson makes it a crime to “unlawfully by means of fire or explosives, intentionally destroy[] or damage[] any building that is used as a dwelling at the time the act is committed…” Minn. Stat. § 609.561, subd. 1. The Court of Appeals rejected Appellant’s argument that “unlawfully” creates an element of the offense, holding that Appellant carried the burden of proving he had some permit, license, or other authorization to start the fire, as provided in section 609.564.
The Supreme Court disagrees. “Unlawfully” is not defined in the arson statute, but Black’s defines “unlawful” as “not authorized by law.” The statute itself does not modify or limit the reach of “unlawfully,” but the Court of Appeals’ interpretation adds language to the statute that limits “unlawfully” to lack of authorization under section 609.564. The Supreme Court disagrees that this is the only way to show a fire was authorized. The court looks to the text and structure of section 609.561 as clues that the legislature intended for “unlawfully” to be an element of first-degree arson, rather than an exception to criminal liability. “Unlawfully” is not set apart from the other elements of the offense and was intentionally added by the legislature to a prior iteration of the statute. From the circumstances proved at trial, the Supreme Court finds the State met its burden of proving each element of the offense, including that Appellant set the fire unlawfully. Appellant’s conviction is affirmed. State v. Beganovic, A21-0477, A21-0480, 2023 WL 3985540 (Minn. Jun. 14, 2023).



Appellant was convicted in the early 2000s for sexually abusing Respondent, his stepsister and a DANCO was issued that expired in August 2021. In February 2022, Appellant went to a restaurant where, unbeknownst to Appellant, Respondent worked as a server. Respondent later petitioned for an OFP against Appellant, claiming fear of Appellant hurting and harassing her now that he knew where she worked. Although the district court found the contact between the parties to be accidental, it issued a “subsequent” OFP, based on the initial expired DANCO and Respondent’s fear.
The Court of Appeals considers whether the district court abused its discretion by treating the expired DANCO as an OFP for purposes of issuing a subsequent OFP. Under Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 4., an OFP may be issued if the petitioner shows domestic abuse by a preponderance of the evidence. Under subd. 6a, if the petitioner has an existing or prior OFP, the OFP may be extended or a subsequent OFP may be issued.
The Court of Appeals holds that a DANCO may not be treated as an existing or prior OFP for purposes of issuing a subsequent OFP under subd. 6a. Section 518B.01 states that OFP proceedings are in addition to other civil or criminal remedies, including a DANCO, which is a remedy granted by separate statute only in criminal proceedings. The OFP statute does not reference DANCOs and the DANCO statute only references OFPs when it provides that DANCOs may be issued in OFP violation proceedings. DANCOs and OFPs also have substantive differences. As a DANCO is not an OFP and cannot serve as the basis for issuing a subsequent OFP, the district court abused its discretion by issuing the OFP against Appellant. Isenhower v. Isenhower, A22-1225, 2023 WL 4167078 (Minn. Ct. App. Jun. 26, 2023).



Appellant was originally required to register as a predatory offender for a 10-year period following a conviction in 2009. His registration period was repeatedly extended, ultimately to 2031, due to additional convictions and supervised release violations. In 2020, he filed a civil action under 42 U.S. § 1983, and various constitutional provisions, alleging that subjecting him to continuing to predatory offender registration requirements violated his constitutional rights. Respondent, the Superintendent of the BCA, filed a motion to dismiss, which the district court granted, finding that Appellant’s arguments were barred by the six-year statute of limitations for his claims, as more than six years had passed since Appellant was initially required to register. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Under Minn. Stat. § 243.166, a person required to register as a predatory offender must initially register and thereafter file yearly reports with specific information until their registration period expires. Suits under section 1983 must be brought within the state’s personal injury action statute of limitations, which in Minnesota is six years. A statute of limitation begins to run when the cause of action accrues—that is, when all of the elements of the action have occurred.
Appellant does not argue his claim did not accrue in 2009, when he was initially required to register, but argues the statute of limitations should be extended under the continuing violation doctrine. He argues the violation of his constitutional rights over the years, via ongoing the registration requirements, was effectively a single discriminatory act. The key question is whether any present violation exists within the statute of limitations period. The Supreme Court agrees with Respondent that the registration requirements are a continued consequence of his initial registration, but the act itself (the BCA’s initial determination that Appellant must register as a predatory offender) is not ongoing or continuing. “[T]he registration requirements are a residual burden resulting from the BCA’s initial, single determination that [Appellant] must register, meaning no present Bicol action exists within the statute of limitations period.” The Court of Appeals is affirmed. Franklin v. Evans, A21-1378, 2023 WL 4218095 (Minn. Jun. 28, 2023).