This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).
State of Minnesota,
Corrine Marie Erickson,
Minnesota Court of Appeals # C6-95-1898
St. Louis County District Court #TX95608721
May 7, 1996
Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
William Didnan, Duluth City Attorney, John Smedberg, Assistant Duluth City Attorney, 410 City Hall, Duluth, MN 55802 (for respondent)
Fred T. Friedman, Chief Public Defender, Sixth Judicial District, Camille V. Doran, Assistant Public Defender, Duluth, MN 55802 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Foley, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges the trial court's decision finding her guilty of underage consumption. We affirm.
On May 18, 1995, appellant was present when police entered a Duluth bar to check for underage patrons. The police visit was prompted by a report from a security guard that individuals who appeared underage had entered the bar. One officer approached appellant, who "appeared very young" and held a glass of "yellowish liquid," and asked to see appellant's identification. When appellant was unable to produce a valid identification card, the officer took her outside, where appellant admitted she was only nineteen years old. The officer also testified appellant admitted to drinking two beers at the bar. The officer then ticketed appellant and released her.
Appellant was charged with underage consumption under section 8-29 of the Duluth City Code. At her hearing, appellant contended that the police officer who approached her in the bar did not have the requisite level of suspicion to detain her. The trial court found appellant guilty of underage consumption. We affirm the trial court's decision, finding that the arresting officer had reasonable, individualized suspicion to seize appellant by approaching her in the Tap Room and asking her to produce identification.
D E C I S I O N
1. Articulable suspicion.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has held that a police officer seizes a citizen for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment by detaining him or her under circumstances like those presented here. State v. Cripps, 533 N.W.2d 388, 391 (Minn. 1995). An officer may only execute such a seizure if the officer reasonably suspects an individual of criminal activity, based on "specific, articulable facts." Id.; Ascher v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 519 N.W.2d 183, 184-85 (Minn. 1994).
In Cripps, the supreme court was presented with a situation quite similar to the facts in this case, except that in Cripps the arresting officer did not testify that she approached Cripps because Cripps looked young. The court held:
An officer can justify an investigative seizure of a person who is in a bar if that person appears to the officer to be under the legal age to consume alcohol. In the present case, however, no evidence exists in the record with respect to Officer DeLong's conclusions regarding Cripps' individual appearance.
Cripps, 533 N.W.2d at 392. The officer in this case testified that appellant "appeared very young," and that she believed at the time she requested appellant's identification that there was "a reasonable chance that [appellant] wasn't twenty one years old." Under these circumstances, the Cripps criteria are met and the officer had a specific, articulable suspicion of criminal activity.
2. Sufficiency of the evidence.
Appellant also contends that the evidence of her underage consumption was insufficient to sustain a guilty verdict. Appellant admitted she was in the bar the night of her arrest, but testified that she had not been drinking, and that she never told the arresting officer she had consumed two beers at the bar. The officer's testimony contradicts appellant's. The trial court, finding appellant guilty, noted that the two accounts were "180 degrees" different, and that appellant "has an interest in this case that [the officer] does not." The record shows that the trial court found the officer's account of appellant's arrest more credible. Having "due regard" for the trial court's assessment of witness credibility, we defer to the court's determination of sufficient evidence to support the charge against appellant. Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (1995).
Dated April 29, 1996
*Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.