This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






Rachel Paula O’Brien,





1991 Pontiac Bonneville,



Filed August 15, 2006


Kalitowski, Judge


Kandiyohi County District Court

File No. 34-CV-04-98


Sergio Andrade, Barristers Trust Building, 247 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for respondent)


Boyd Beccue, Kandiyohi County Attorney, Dain Olson, Assistant County Attorney, 415 Southwest Sixth Street, P.O. Box 1126, Willmar, MN 56201 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant State of Minnesota challenges the district court’s order in a judicial forfeiture action, arguing that the court erred in determining that respondent’s 1991 Pontiac Bonneville is not subject to forfeiture under Minn. Stat. § 609.5311, subd. 2 (2002).  We reverse.



            “Statutory construction is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo.”  Wolf Motor Co. v. One 2000 Ford F-350, 658 N.W.2d 900, 902 (Minn. App. 2003).  A court’s “primary objective in interpreting statutory language is to give effect to the legislature’s intent as expressed in the language of the statute.”  Pususta v. State Farm Ins. Cos., 632 N.W.2d 549, 552 (Minn. 2001).

            Minn. Stat. § 609.5311, subd. 2 (2002), provides:

All property, real and personal, that has been used, or is intended for use, or has in any way facilitated, in whole or in part, the manufacturing, compounding, processing, delivering, importing, cultivating, exporting, transporting, or exchanging of contraband or a controlled substance that has not been lawfully manufactured, distributed, dispensed, and acquired is subject to forfeiture under this section, except as provided in subdivision 3.


(Emphasis added.)

            Here, respondent’s acquaintance drove respondent in the 1991 Pontiac Bonneville to a location to meet with a man, who, unbeknownst to respondent, was working as an informant for law enforcement.  The informant and respondent then drove to another location and respondent’s acquaintance followed them in the 1991 Pontiac Bonneville.  Respondent agreed to purchase methamphetamine for the informant and the informant gave respondent $250.  Respondent then entered the building, but left the scene in the 1991 Pontiac Bonneville without delivering methamphetamine to the informant.  Respondent was later convicted of a controlled-substance sale crime in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.023, subds. 1(1), 3(a) (2002). 

            Subsequently, the district court concluded that respondent’s 1991 Pontiac Bonneville is not subject to forfeiture under Minn. Stat. § 609.5311, subd. 2.  The district court determined that because the word “selling” is not included in the forfeiture statute, selling contraband or a controlled substance cannot trigger forfeiture.  We disagree.

            Minn. Stat. § 609.531, subd. 1a (2002), states that

[s]ections 609.531 to 609.5318 must be liberally construed to carry out the following remedial purposes:

(1) to enforce the law;

(2) to deter crime;

(3) to reduce the economic incentive to engage in criminal enterprise;

(4) to increase the pecuniary loss resulting from the detection of criminal activity; and

(5) to forfeit property unlawfully used or acquired and divert the property to law enforcement purposes. 


Thus, in Borgen v. 418 Eglon Ave., 712 N.W.2d 809, 813 (Minn. App. 2006), this court recognized that “forfeiture is appropriate when real property is used to facilitate the sale or possession of drugs.”  (Emphasis added.)  In that case, this court interpreted “exchanging of contraband or a controlled substance” to include drug-sale activity.  See Borgen, 712 N.W.2d at 811, 813 (upholding the forfeiture of appellant’s home and drug-related money where appellant was selling cocaine out of his house).  Thus, we conclude that the district court erred in determining that respondent’s drug-sale offense could not trigger the forfeiture of property.

            Next, we must determine if the 1991 Pontiac Bonneville “in any way facilitated” the drug-sale offense.  “A vehicle used to provide transportation to or from the crime scene has been used to commit or facilitate the crime.”  City of Worthington Police Dep’t v. One 1988 Chevrolet Barreta, 516 N.W.2d 581, 584 (Minn. App. 1994).  Here, respondent used the 1991 Pontiac Bonneville as transportation to and from the drug sale.  Thus, we conclude that the vehicle facilitated the “exchange” of contraband under Minn. Stat. § 609.5311, subd. 2.  Therefore, the district court erred in determining that the 1991 Pontiac Bonneville is not subject to forfeiture.