This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of: M.L.C.
Anoka County District Court
File No. J0-04-0526
Mark D. Nyvold,
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge
The state challenges the district court’s dismissal of a juvenile delinquency petition for lack of probable cause. Because the district court did not dismiss the petition based on a question of law and because further prosecution is not effectively barred, the appeal is dismissed.
D E C I S I O N
In a juvenile
delinquency case, a prosecutor may appeal from an order dismissing a petition
for lack of probable cause when the dismissal is based solely on a question of
At a probable cause
hearing, the district court must decide if it is fair and reasonable to require
the defendant to stand trial. State v.
This case arises out of a fight that occurred on September 9, 2004. M.L.C., a male who was fifteen-years-old at the time of the offense, was charged with disorderly conduct in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.72, subd. 1(1) (2004). M.L.C contended that the petition should be dismissed for lack of probable cause at his initial appearance, arguing that there must be some intent to want to participate in the fight and that his behavior was reasonable because there was no evidence that he did anything physical except strike back after the initial punch was thrown. The district court observed that, although the delinquency petition indicated that M.L.C. punched M.R. back, the actual beating of M.R. was done by M.L.C.’s friends. The district court then noted that the circumstances were not favorable to finding M.L.C. culpable and stated “from the point of judicial efficiency and accomplishing anything, the chances of there being a conviction out of this mess is pretty small. I’m going to find that there is not probable cause and dismiss the charges.”
The state argues that it can appeal the dismissal because the dismissal was based on a question of law, namely that the district court used the reasonable doubt standard rather than the probable cause standard. The state contends that the district court’s statement that “the chance . . . of a conviction out of this mess is pretty small” and its reference to judicial efficiency demonstrate that the standard used was proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not probable cause.
The state relies on State v. Lindell, an unpublished
decision of this court. No. C0-89-656, 1989 WL 94459 (Minn. App. Aug. 22, 1989). But Lindell
is distinguishable. In that case, the
complaint was dismissed after a probable cause hearing finding that “[t]he
evidence produced by the State meets the most minimal probable cause
requirement and would not meet the more demanding burden of proof beyond a
The district court focused on a lack of factual evidence rather than a legal reason when concluding that there was no probable cause. This court will not find jurisdiction based on an inference that the district court erroneously used a standard of reasonable doubt when it explicitly found there was no probable cause. See generally State v. Duffy, 559 N.W.2d 109, 110-11 (Minn. App. 1997) (rejecting state’s attempt to create a legal issue to support an appeal of a pretrial dismissed for lack of probable cause).
The state also argues that further prosecution is effectively barred because it would be pointless to reissue the petition. But, the state has not explained why it cannot gather more evidence to support the charge and reissue the petition. The record in this case consists only of a two-page charging petition that includes brief statements from several witnesses. The state is free to expand that record, perhaps by more extensive interviews of the witnesses. Because future prosecution is not effectively barred and the state can reissue the petition, the state has not shown plainly and affirmatively that jurisdiction exists to appeal the dismissal of the petition.
 Unpublished decisions of this court are not
precedential, but may be persuasive in certain situations. Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3(c) (2004); Dynamic Air, Inc. v. Bloch, 502 N.W.2d
796, 800-01 (