This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).






State of Minnesota,





Scott W. Lentz,



Filed July 24, 2007


Worke, Judge



Steele County District Court

File No. K7-05-1165



Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and


Douglas L. Ruth, Steele County Attorney, Daniel A. McIntosh, Assistant County Attorney, 303 South Cedar, Owatonna, MN 55060 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lydia Villalva Lijó, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)



            Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Worke, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

WORKE, Judge

On appeal from convictions of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, appellant argues that the district court committed plain error that affected his fundamental rights in instructing the jury.  We affirm.


Appellant Scott Wilton Lentz challenges the district court’s jury instructions. Generally, we review the adequacy of jury instructions for an abuse of discretion.  State v. Peou, 579 N.W.2d 471, 475 (Minn. 1998).  The district court “has considerable latitude in the selection of the language of a jury charge . . . [but] a jury instruction must not materially misstate the law.”  State v. Pendleton, 567 N.W.2d 265, 268 (Minn. 1997). “[T]he court’s charge to the jury must be read as a whole, and if, when so read, it correctly states the law in language that can be understood by the jury, there is no reversible error.”  Peou, 579 N.W.2d at 475.  But appellant failed to object to the now-challenged instruction.  While objections not made at trial are waived on appeal, we may address the issue “if the instructions contain plain error affecting substantial rights or an error of fundamental law.”  State v. Earl, 702 N.W.2d 711, 720 (Minn. 2005); see also Minn. R. Crim. P. 2603, subd. 18(3). 

Here, appellant provided alcohol to 14- and 15-year-old minors who were cited for underage drinking.  A jury convicted appellant of four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, under Minn. Stat. § 260B.425, subd. 1(a) (2004), which states that “[a]ny person who by act, word, or omission encourages, causes, or contributes to delinquency of a child or to a child’s status as a juvenile petty offender, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.”  Under this statute, the state is required to prove that:  (1) the children were under 18 years of age; (2) the defendant by act, word, or omission encouraged, caused, or contributed to the need for protection services, delinquency of the children, or the status of the children as juvenile petty offenders; and (3) the defendant’s act took place at a particular time and location.  10 Minnesota Practice, CRIMJIG 13.100 (1999). 

            Appellant argues that the district court’s jury instruction that “a person under 18 years of age who consumes alcohol is a juvenile petty offender” relieved the state of proving an element of the crime because only a court can adjudicate whether someone is a juvenile petty offender.  The state counters that the district court merely summarized applicable law because (1) Minn. Stat. § 260B.007, subd. 16(d) (2004), states that “[a] child who commits a juvenile petty offense is a ‘juvenile petty offender’”; (2)  Minn. Stat. § 260B.007, subd. 3 (2004), states that “child” means “an individual under 18 years of age”; (3) Minn. Stat. § 260B.007, subd. 16(a) (2004), states that a “‘[j]uvenile petty offense’ includes a juvenile alcohol offense”; (4) Minn. Stat. § 260B.007, subd. 17 (2004), states that a “‘[j]uvenile alcohol offense’ means a violation by a child of any provision of [Minn. Stat. § 340A.503],” which includes a prohibition against any “person under the age of 21 years . . . consum[ing] any alcoholic beverages,” Minn. Stat. § 340A.503, subd. 1(a)(2) (2004).  We agree with the state that the district court did not misstate the law, but permissibly summarized it as applicable to the case at hand.  See State v. Backus, 358 N.W.2d 93, 95 (Minn. App. 1984) (“It is desirable for the court to explain the elements of the offenses rather than simply reading statutes.”). 

Appellant contends that an adjudication of the children as juvenile petty offenders is required in order to proceed with the prosecution against him.  But see State v. Hayes, 351 N.W.2d 654, 657 (Minn. App. 1984) (“An adjudication of delinquency . . . is not necessary for a prosecution of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”), review denied (Minn. Sept. 12, 1984).  Here, the state had to prove that the children were under the age of 18 and consumed alcohol.  Once the state proved these elements, the children were, for the purposes of appellant’s trial, juvenile petty offenders.  Even though a court had not adjudicated the children as juvenile petty offenders, the jury in appellant’s case was required to determine that the factors necessary to adjudicate the children as such had been satisfied.  In so doing, the jury concluded that, for the purposes of appellant’s case, the children were juvenile petty offenders; the district court did not conclude the status nor did it direct the jury to do so.  On this record, a separate adjudication of the children as juvenile petty offenders is unnecessary to proceed in a prosecution of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  The district court’s summary of the law did not alleviate the state’s burden and was not plain error affecting appellant’s substantial rights.