may not be cited excepted as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of: K. R. P.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded
Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge
Hennepin County District Court
File No. J302055834
Leonardo Castro, Fourth District Chief Public Defender, Barbara S. Isaacman, Assistant Public Defender, 317 2nd Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant K.R.P.)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103-2106; and
Amy J. Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Donna J. Wolfson, Michael K. Walz, Assistant Hennepin County Attorneys, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent State of Minnesota)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Wright, Judge.
GORDON W. SHUMAKER, Judge
The juvenile appellant challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence on the ground that the court made no findings of fact and erred in its conclusion of law. Appellant also challenges the district court’s dispositional order as lacking in a factual basis. Because the parties presented undisputed facts to the court, particularized findings of fact were unnecessary, and the court properly denied appellant’s suppression motion. But because the court made no findings as to the appropriateness of appellant’s juvenile-delinquency disposition, the court erred. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.
The state filed a delinquency petition alleging that 15-year-old K.R.P. committed the felony of illegal possession of a firearm. In the petition, the state alleged that K.R.P. and another juvenile were on a city street after their curfew, that police officers approached them, and that, during the encounter, the police discovered that K.R.P. had a handgun in the waistband of his pants.
K.R.P. denied the allegations and, before trial, moved to suppress evidence of the gun on the ground that the police obtained it in an unlawful search. Neither the state nor the defense presented any evidence at the suppression hearing but rather each filed a memorandum of law, which the court had read before the hearing.
As demonstrated by the memoranda and the attorneys’ suppression arguments, the material facts were not in dispute. On the day of the incident the curfew for persons in Minneapolis under the age of 18 was 11:00 p.m. While on patrol, two Minneapolis police officers saw K.R.P. and another boy on a city street. The boys appeared to be under 18 and, therefore, in violation of the curfew. The officers pulled their squad car up to the curb alongside the boys and asked how old they were. When they revealed their ages, the officers asked if they were carrying any weapons, and both said they had none. K.R.P. appeared nervous, did not make eye contact with the officers, and held his right arm by his side as if he were trying to hide something. One of the officers told K.R.P. to pull up his jacket so that the officer could see his waistband. When K.R.P. did so, the officer saw a handgun tucked in his waistband and arrested him.
At the suppression hearing, K.R.P. did not challenge the stop but rather argued that it was impermissible for the officer to require him to lift up his jacket. The court heard arguments and denied the motion to suppress the gun.
After the court’s ruling, K.R.P. agreed to submit the case to the court on the police reports for a determination of the charge. The court received the reports, reviewed them, and, based on those reports and the pretrial proceedings, adjudicated K.R.P. delinquent.
Following its adjudication of delinquency, the court ordered that K.R.P. be placed on probation and that he complete the “Gun Program.” The court stayed a six-week out-of-home placement on the condition that K.R.P. complete the “Gun Program.” K.R.P appealed, challenging both the suppression ruling and the delinquency disposition.
In a suppression hearing, the state has the burden of demonstrating that evidence was not obtained in violation of an individual’s constitutional rights. See State v. Wajda, 296 Minn. 29, 31, 206 N.W.2d 1, 2 (Minn. 1973).
When reviewing pretrial orders on motions to suppress evidence, we may independently review the facts and determine as a matter of law whether the district court erred [in its suppression ruling].
State v. Harris, 590 N.W.2d 90, 98 (Minn. 1999) (citation omitted). We apply a “clearly erroneous” standard to factual findings underlying the district court’s ruling. State v. George, 557 N.W.2d 575, 578 (Minn. 1997).
K.R.P. argues that “[i]t is somewhat difficult to state with certainty what ‘facts’ the court considered in ruling on ” K.R.P’s suppression motion, and notes that neither testimony nor documentary evidence was presented at the suppression hearing. Although it is correct that neither party offered evidence at the hearing and that the court did not make formal particularized findings of fact, the record shows that the facts themselves were not in dispute and that no credibility issues were raised. The attorneys presented the facts to the court through their memoranda and oral arguments. Although the parties did not formally stipulate to the facts, their failure to challenge, controvert, or otherwise dispute any of the facts provided the court with a factually settled case from which to decide an issue of law.
A primary reason for factual findings is to make it “possible to ascertain from the record the basis for the trial court’s ruling.” State v. Kvam, 336 N.W.2d 525, 528 (Minn. 1983) (quoting State v. Rainey, 303 Minn. 550, 550, 226 N.W.2d 919, 921 (1975)). Ordinarily, factual findings presuppose factual disputes and credibility issues. But where there are no such disputes or issues, we may infer that the court found the facts to be as presented and undisputed by the parties. See Rainey, 303 Minn. at 550, 226 N.W.2d at 921 (holding that where there was no conflict in the evidence and the district court’s conclusions were consistent with that evidence, a remand for factual findings is not necessary). Here, even without formal findings, the record is clear as to what facts formed the basis of the district court’s order. Thus, we reject K.R.P’s contention that the district court’s ruling is erroneous because there was no evidence to support it.
K.R.P. also argues that the officers exceeded the permissible scope of a Terry stop.
An officer may conduct a limited protective weapons frisk of a lawfully stopped person if the officer has an objective articulable basis for thinking that the person may be armed and dangerous.
In re Welfare of M. D. B., 601 N.W.2d 214, 216 (Minn. App. 1999) (citing Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 24, 27, 30, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1881, 1883, 1884-85 (1968)).
There was no physical frisk of K.R.P. Rather, the officers remained seated in the squad car while they inquired as to the ages of K.R.P and his companion. The facts presented to the district court showed that one of the officers also asked if the two were carrying any weapons. K.R.P. seemed nervous, avoided eye contact with the officer, looked down at the ground, and held his arm down against his side as if he was trying to hide something. These were the objective, articulable facts in the context of an inquiry about weapons that gave the officers reasonable suspicion that K.R.P. might be armed. Under Terry, this would have provided a basis for a pat down. Certainly, the far less intrusive request that K.R.P. lift up his jacket was equally permissible.
K.R.P. argues that a mere curfew violation and mere nervousness in the presence of the police are not sufficient bases for a frisk. Although K.R.P. readily admitted his age, he exhibited more than mere nervousness when faced with the inquiry about weapons. K.R.P. acknowledges that furtive movements toward a pocket could constitute sufficiently suspicious activity to permit a frisk. See State v. Alesso, 328 N.W.2d 685, 688-89 (Minn. 1982). But he argues that his positioning of his arm in such a way that the officers believed he was hiding something does not rise to the level of such suspicious activity. We disagree. K.R.P. was not merely standing with his arms at his side in a normal position but was holding one arm in such a way as to signal to the officers that he was actively concealing something. Such a “furtive” positioning is not materially different from a furtive movement or gesture.
We hold that the district court had a sufficient factual basis for its ruling and did not err in denying K.R.P’s motion to suppress the gun.
K.R.P. contends that the district court erred because it failed to make findings to support its dispositional order. The district court enjoys broad discretion in determining the appropriate juvenile-delinquency disposition. In re Welfare of J.A.J., 545 N.W.2d 412, 414 (Minn. App. 1996).
The district court is required to make written findings to support its dispositional order. See Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m) (2000); Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05, subd. 2. The court abuses its discretion by ordering a disposition without making findings in support of its order. See In re Welfare of N.T.K., 619 N.W.2d 209, 211-12 (Minn. App. 2000). Here, the court made no findings as to the appropriateness of its dispositional order, and there is nothing in the record to indicate what the court relied upon in making its order. Therefore, the dispositional order was made in error, and the issue of the appropriate disposition for K.R.P. must be remanded.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.