STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the
Filed August 1, 2006
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 27-JV-05-394
Leonardo Castro, Fourth District
Public Defender, Melissa Haley, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue
South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401
(for appellant M.A.R.)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General,
1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County
Attorney, Linda K. Jenny, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center,
Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Parker, Judge.
S Y L L A B U S
Stat. § 260C.175 (2004), which is a child-protection provision of the
Juvenile Court Act, authorizes a police officer to transport to a safe location
a juvenile who is in violation of a curfew.
O P I N I O N
this appeal from a delinquency adjudication of felony possession of a pistol by
a minor, appellant argues that the district court should have suppressed the
pistol, which was discovered when police stopped appellant for a curfew
violation and searched him before placing him in a squad car for transportation
to the Minneapolis
curfew center. Because the police had a valid,
reasonable basis under Minn. Stat. § 260C.175 (2004) to place appellant in
the squad car, we affirm.
In June 2005, at 1:09 a.m. on a
weekday, Minneapolis police officer James Archer
saw two males who appeared to be under the Hennepin
County curfew age of 18 standing at a
bus stop on Hennepin Avenue
between 7th and 8th Streets in downtown Minneapolis. Because it was approximately two hours after
the weekday curfew, Archer stopped his squad car, got out, approached the two individuals,
and asked them how old they were. Both
of the individuals, one of whom was later identified as appellant M.A.R.,
answered that they were 17 years old.
an officer encounters a juvenile who is in violation of the curfew, it is Minneapolis police-department policy for the officer to transport
the juvenile to the Minneapolis
curfew center, where the center staff calls the juvenile’s parents to have the
juvenile picked up. Intending to drive
both juveniles to the Minneapolis
curfew center, Archer conducted a patdown search of M.A.R. while another
officer who arrived at the scene as back-up did the same to the other
juvenile. Archer found a pistol in
M.A.R.’s waistband. M.A.R. was charged
with one count of possession of a pistol by a minor, in violation of Minn.
Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1(a) (2004).
It was later determined that M.A.R. was actually 16 years old at the
M.A.R. moved to suppress the pistol,
arguing that it was obtained in violation of his constitutional right to be
free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
The district court denied his motion.
The district court adjudicated M.A.R. a delinquent and placed him on juvenile
probation. M.A.R. now appeals from the
district court’s order denying his motion to suppress the pistol.
Did the district
court err by not suppressing the pistol found on M.A.R.?
reviewing the denial of a motion to suppress evidence, we independently review
the facts and determine, as a matter of law, whether the district court erred
by not suppressing the evidence. State v. Harris, 590 N.W.2d 90, 98 (Minn. 1999). The United States and Minnesota constitutions
protect individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, §
10. When a police officer has a “valid
reasonable basis for placing a lawfully stopped citizen in a squad car, a frisk
will often be appropriate without additional individual articulable
suspicion.” State v. Varnado, 582 N.W.2d 886, 891 (Minn.
1998); see also State v. Curtis, 290 Minn.
429, 437, 190 N.W.2d 631, 636 (1971) (providing that police may, for their own
protection, search a person before placing him in a squad car).
argues that after he was stopped for violating the Hennepin
County curfew ordinance, Archer had no
valid, reasonable basis for placing M.A.R. in the squad car, which prompted the
patdown search, and for transporting him to the Minneapolis curfew center. M.A.R. argues that, therefore, the patdown
search was unconstitutional and the pistol found during that search should have
does not dispute that a police officer is justified in conducting a patdown
search of a person when the officer has a valid, reasonable basis for placing
that person in a squad car. But M.A.R.
argues that once Archer determined that M.A.R. was in violation of the Hennepin
County curfew ordinance, Archer should have determined if one of the defenses
listed in the curfew ordinance, such as being engaged in a lawful employment
activity or being on an errand for a parent, applied; and if no defense
applied, Archer should have issued a citation to M.A.R. and then either
released him or called his parents to pick him up.
on the reasoning in this court’s unpublished decision in In re Welfare of S.D.N., No. C3-02-1958, 2003 WL 21061115 (Minn.
App. May 13, 2003), the district court concluded that Archer had a reasonable
basis under Minn. Stat. § 260C.175 (2004) to take M.A.R. into
custody. In S.D.N., this court reversed a district-court order suppressing a
pistol that was found during a patdown search of a juvenile who was being cited
and taken into custody for violating the St.
Paul curfew ordinance.
2003 WL 21061115, at *1-*2. This
court concluded that the officer was authorized to take S.D.N. into custody for
the curfew violation and to first pat-search S.D.N. under Minn. Stat.
§ 260C.175, subd. 1(b)(2), which provides that an officer may take a child
into immediate custody “when a child is found in surroundings or conditions
which endanger the child’s health or welfare or which such peace officer
reasonably believes will endanger the child’s health or welfare,” and 3(a),
which provides that an officer who takes a child into custody under the section
may “perform a protective pat-down search of the child in order to protect the
officer’s safety.” Id.,
at *2 (quoting Minn. Stat. § 260C.175, subds. 1(b)(2), 3(a) (2002)). This court concluded that the pistol found on
S.D.N. was admissible under Minn. Stat. § 260C.175, subd. 3(c), which
provides that “[e]vidence discovered in the course of a lawful search under
this section is admissible.” Id.
(quoting Minn. Stat. § 260C.175, subd. 3(c) (2002)).
S.D.N., this court concluded that,
although the St. Paul ordinance did not include a statement of its purpose, the
officer’s actions were consistent with the intent of the ordinance, which was
“to give police officers the authority to remove juveniles from environments
where they may be in danger of becoming victims of crime or may themselves
participate in illegal conduct.” Id. Ultimately, this court concluded that it
would be “absurd” to determine that an officer must leave a child “in possible
danger and permit the curfew violation to continue” and that “[t]he moment the
officers were required to transport S.D.N. in the squad car, the pat-down
search was necessary for the officers’ protection.” Id., at *3. We find the court’s analysis in S.D.N. persuasive here.
M.A.R. argues that S.D.N. is distinguishable because the St. Paul curfew ordinance at issue there differs from the Hennepin County
curfew ordinance in two respects: First,
the Hennepin County curfew ordinance includes a
stated purpose. M.A.R. argues that,
therefore, this court may not supply a purpose for the curfew ordinance as it did
in S.D.N. But review of the purpose section of the
Hennepin County curfew ordinance shows that it is consistent with what this
court found to be the purpose of the St. Paul ordinance. See Hennepin County, Minn., Juvenile Curfew Ordinance No. 16,
§ 1 (2002). Therefore, we conclude
that this is a distinction without a difference.
M.A.R. argues that because the Hennepin
County curfew ordinance “specifically
provides that violations of the curfew law will be prosecuted as petty
misdemeanors pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260B.235 [(2004)],” which does not
authorize taking a petty-misdemeanor violator into custody absent circumstances
not present here, Minn. Stat. § 260C.175 does not apply. See
id., § 5 (providing that curfew
violations “will be prosecuted pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260B.235 and will
be subject to the penalties therein”). But
the provision in the Hennepin County curfew ordinance for application of
section 260B.235 to the prosecution of curfew violations does not preclude the
application also of section 260C.175 to a juvenile in violation of a curfew ordinance
because such a person is necessarily a child “found in surroundings or
conditions which endanger the child’s health or welfare or which such peace
officer reasonably believes will endanger the child’s health or welfare.” See
Minn. Stat. § 260C.175, subd. 1(b)(2).
agree with the court’s conclusion in S.D.N.
that Minn. Stat. § 260C.175 authorizes an officer to transport to a safe
location a juvenile in violation of a curfew.
Therefore, Archer had a reasonable basis for placing M.A.R. in the squad
car and, for his own safety, to conduct a patdown search of M.A.R. first.
D E C
I S I O N
Minn. Stat. § 260C.175 (2004) authorizes an officer to transport to a safe
location a juvenile in violation of a curfew ordinance, there was a valid,
reasonable basis to place M.A.R. in the squad car and, for the police officer’s
safety, for first conducting a patdown search of M.A.R. We conclude, therefore, that the district
court did not err by denying M.A.R.’s motion to suppress the pistol.