may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Mallory-Linda Joy Felix-Carter,
Filed August 10, 1999
Affirmed in part, vacated in part
Blue Earth County District Court
File No. K6971153
Ross E. Arneson, Blue Earth County Attorney, Government Center, 410 South Fifth Street, Post Office Box 3129, Mankato, MN 56002 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Chad M. Oldfather, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Parker, Judge,[*] and Schultz, Judge.[**]
Appellant Mallory-Linda Joy Felix-Carter challenges her convictions for wrongfully obtaining public assistance, arguing that they are lesser-included offenses of her perjury convictions. She also contends that all of the charged offenses arose from a single behavior incident, and therefore she should have been sentenced for only one offense. Although we disagree with Felix-Carter's arguments, we conclude that her convictions for perjury are lesser-included offenses of her convictions for wrongfully obtaining public assistance, and, therefore, we vacate the convictions for perjury. We affirm in part and vacate in part.
Felix-Carter completed an application for public assistance in December 1994. On the application, Felix-Carter failed to disclose that she held an IRA account. Felix-Carter signed and dated the application directly under a declaration affirming that the application is a true and correct statement on every material point. Felix-Carter, thereafter, received medical assistance; but had she disclosed the account, she would have been ineligible. In order to continue receiving medical assistance, Felix-Carter completed a household report form every six months. She was not able to receive food stamps at that time.
In June 1995, Felix-Carter completed another application requesting food stamps and signed the food stamp perjury declaration, which later formed the basis for her first perjury conviction. While receiving food stamps, Felix-Carter completed monthly household report forms in June and July of 1995.
In March 1996, Felix-Carter completed another application requesting general assistance and recertification of medical assistance and food stamps, which became the basis for the second perjury conviction.
After completing a combined application form in January 1997, a caseworker conducted an interview with Felix-Carter in February, during which they went over each question. Felix-Carter then told the caseworker that she had an IRA account.
Felix-Carter was charged with two counts of perjury and four counts of wrongfully obtaining public assistance. Counts I and II were based on the false statements made on the combined application forms, completed June 6, 1995 and March 19, 1996. Counts III - VI were for wrongfully obtaining public assistance, specifically medical assistance, general assistance, and food stamps. The jury convicted Felix-Carter on all six counts.
Felix-Carter received (a) two separate sentences on the counts of perjury; (b) a combined sentence for three counts of wrongfully obtaining medical assistance, wrongfully obtaining general assistance and wrongfully obtaining food stamps, which the court ruled arose out of a single behavioral incident; and (c) a separate sentence for the fourth count of wrongfully obtaining food stamps. The trial court ordered all four sentences to be served concurrently.
1. Felix-Carter contends that the wrongfully obtaining public assistance offenses in this case are lesser-included offenses of perjury, and, therefore, the convictions for wrongfully obtaining public assistance should be vacated. See Minn. Stat. § 609.04, subd. 1(4) (1996) (providing that a person may be convicted of either crime charged or included offense, but not both; an included offense may be a crime necessarily proved if crime charged were proved). Determining whether an offense is necessarily proved by the proof of another offense requires a review of the statutory definitions of the offenses rather than a review of the facts of the particular case. State v. Gisege, 561 N.W.2d 152, 156 (Minn. 1997).
Felix-Carter was convicted and sentenced on two counts of perjury under Minn. Stat. §§ 609.48, subds. 1(3) and 4(2) (1996) (defining acts constituting perjury, and providing sentence) and 256.984, subds. 1 and 2 (1996) (requiring applications for public assistance to contain declaration, signed by applicant, that under penalties of perjury, application is a true and correct statement of every material point). Felix-Carter's conviction for perjury required proof that (1) she made a "false material statement not believing it to be true;" (2) on an application for public assistance, that contained a declaration providing that, under the penalties of perjury, the application is a true and correct statement of every material point. See id.
A person is guilty of wrongfully obtaining public assistance if that person
obtains, or attempts to obtain, or aids or abets any person to obtain by means of a willfully false statement or representation, by intentional concealment of a material fact, or by impersonation or other fraudulent device, assistance to which the person is not entitled or assistance greater than that to which the person is entitled.
Minn. Stat. § 256.98, subd. 1 (1996) (emphasis added).
Although we disagree with Felix-Carter's argument that her convictions for wrongfully obtaining public assistance were lesser-included offenses of the perjury conviction, we conclude that the perjury convictions were lesser-included offenses of the convictions for wrongfully obtaining public assistance. Felix-Carter's commission of perjury was the crime necessarily proved in order to prove that she wrongfully obtained public assistance. See State v. Rodreguez, 505 N.W.2d 373, 377 (Minn. App. 1993) (ruling that because defendant's act of kidnapping was predicate felony necessarily proved in order to prove felony murder, defendant could not be adjudicated guilty and sentenced for both offenses), review denied (Minn. Oct. 19, 1993). Accordingly, we vacate Felix-Carter's convictions and sentences for perjury.
2. Besides the two sentences for perjury, which we vacate as lesser-included offenses of wrongfully obtaining public assistance, Felix-Carter also received two sentences on her convictions for wrongfully obtaining public assistance. Felix-Carter argues that all of the convictions in this case arose from a single behavioral incident, her initial and continuing failure to disclose the existence of her IRA account on her applications for public assistance, and, therefore, she should have been sentenced on only one of the convictions.
Whether incidents constitute more than one offense for sentencing purposes "depends on the facts and circumstances of the particular case." State v. Butterfield, 555 N.W.2d 526, 530 (Minn. App. 1996) (quotation omitted), review denied (Minn. Dec. 17, 1996). This court will reverse a district court's findings only where they are clearly erroneous. Effinger v. State, 380 N.W.2d 483, 489 (Minn. 1986).
[I]f a person's conduct constitutes more than one offense under the laws of this state, the person may be punished for only one of the offenses.
Minn. Stat. 609.035, subd. 1 (1996). The factors to be considered in determining whether multiple offenses constitute a single behavior act under section 609.035 include "time, place, and whether the offenses were motivated by a desire to obtain a single criminal objective." State v. Gould, 562 N.W.2d 518, 521 (Minn. 1997). This determination is "not a mechanical test," but rather, "involves an examination of all the facts and circumstances." Id. (citation omitted).
Because (1) Felix-Carter filled out applications for different types of assistance at different times and places; and (2) the objective to obtain as much money as possible is not a legitimate objective under section 609.035, we affirm the imposition of separate sentences for the two convictions for wrongfully obtaining public assistance. See id. (explaining that "criminal plan of obtaining as much money as possible is too broad an objective to constitute a single criminal goal" under section 609.035).
Affirmed in part and vacated in part.
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
[**] Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.