This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




In the Matter of the Welfare of:

R.W.C., Child.

Filed January 7, 1997


Crippen, Judge

Washington County District Court

File No. 8210641Y

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Evan W. Jones, Charlann Elizabeth Winking, Assistant State Public Defenders, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for Appellant Child)

Hubert H. Humphrey, III, State Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101

Richard M. Arney, Washington County Attorney, Douglas H. Johnson, Assistant County Attorney, 14900 61st Street North, Stillwater, MN 55082 (for Respondent)

Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Harten, Judge.



Appellant juvenile appeals the trial court's order adjudicating him delinquent for false imprisonment. Appellant asserts that the false imprisonment statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.255, subd. 2 (1996), requires a finding of specific intent and that the record contained insufficient evidence to support a finding of false imprisonment. We affirm.


At school, appellant and three friends wrapped duct tape around another high school student until he was unable to move. Before leaving the student in an isolated stairwell, appellant shoved the student, who fell and sustained injuries. The injured student later identified appellant to a police officer at the school. After the officer received the consent of appellant's mother to question him, appellant admitted that he had "taped" and pushed the injured student.

The trial court found that appellant committed false imprisonment, a felony, and fifth degree assault, a misdemeanor. The court adjudicated him on the assault but, expressing reluctance to adjudicate appellant for a felony, reserved judgment on the false imprisonment. After appellant requested adjudication for purposes of this appeal,[1] the court adjudicated appellant for the false imprisonment. Appellant only appeals the false imprisonment adjudication.


1. The interpretation of a statute is a question of law subject to de novo review. In re Welfare of D.D.G., 532 N.W.2d 279, 280-81 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Aug. 30, 1995). The false imprisonment statute applies when one "intentionally confines or restrains" another without consent and governs only an actor "knowingly lacking lawful authority to do so." Minn. Stat. § 609.255, subd. 2 (1996).

Appellant contends that the statute requires the state to prove that he knew that he lacked legal authority to confine before he intentionally confined the other student. Appellant then asserts that because "taping" is a "tradition" at his high school, he did not know that he was not entitled to engage in the practice.

Appellant primarily relies on State v. Dokken, 312 N.W.2d 106, 107-08 (Minn. 1981). In Dokken, on at least two occasions, the defendant briefly bound an eleven year-old boy and took photographs of him. Id. at 107. The supreme court held that the state had failed to prove that the defendant possessed the specific intent to sustain a false imprisonment conviction. Id. at 107-08. The court stated:

While it is undisputed that Dokken intended to bind the boy in order to take the photographs, there is a complete lack of evidence that Dokken intended specifically to confine or restrain him.

Id. at 107 (footnote omitted). The court found a lack of intent because the confinements lasted only a few minutes and the defendant did not restrain the boy after the child desired his release. Id. at 108.

The trial court distinguished Dokken because that defendant only bound the child for a few minutes before untying him, and it reluctantly found that appellant had committed false imprisonment.

The trial court properly concluded that the statute does not require a specific finding that appellant knew that he had no right to "tape" another student. Dokken concerned the "narrow issue" of whether the defendant possessed the "specific intent to confine or restrain," and it did not relate the intent issue to the defendant's specific knowledge that he was acting wrongfully. Dokken, 312 N.W.2d at 106-07. Furthermore, the supreme court recently stated that "specific intent requires that the defendant acted with the intention to produce a specific result." State v. Orsello, 554 N.W.2d 70, 72 (Minn. 1996) (interpreting anti-stalking statute as requiring specific intent).

The statutory language "knowingly lacking lawful authority" apparently derives from the common law tort defense that police can confine or restrain someone suspected of criminal wrongdoing. See, e.g., Johnson v. Morris, 453 N.W.2d 31, 36 (Minn. 1990) (holding that driver had no claim for false imprisonment against police officer where officer had probable cause to arrest driver); Lundeen v. Renteria, 302 Minn. 142, 146, 224 N.W.2d 132, 135 (Minn. 1974) (per curiam) (stating that an arrest made without proper legal authority is false imprisonment); see also Minn. Stat. § 629.364 (1996) (authorizing train conductors, ship captains, depot clerks, fairground officers, and public resort operators to arrest persons suspected of swindling); Minn. Stat. § 629.366 (1996) (authorizing merchants with reasonable cause to detain a shoplifting suspect without committing false imprisonment). Because the facts of this case do not involve such a claim of authority, the state successfully has shown by circumstantial evidence that appellant lacked legal authority to confine the victim. There is no indication that the false imprisonment statutory language requires the state to prove that appellant knew that he was not entitled to confine or restrain his victim.

2. Appellant generally contends that the record lacks sufficient evidence to adjudicate him as delinquent for false imprisonment. On appeal from an adjudication of delinquency, the appellant must show that "the trier of fact could not reasonably find he committed the charged acts." In re Welfare of T.M.V., 368 N.W.2d 421, 423 (Minn. App. 1985). The appellate court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution. In re Welfare of G.L.M., 347 N.W.2d 84, 85 (Minn. App. 1984).

The record provides sufficient evidence for the trial court to find that appellant knew he was committing a wrongful act without permission. As discussed above, the statute does not require a finding that appellant specifically knew that he had no right to act as he did. Although appellant may have believed that "taping" was not illegal because it was a traditional high school activity, "ignorance of the law is no excuse." State v. King, 257 N.W.2d 693, 697 (Minn. 1977); accord Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 9(5) (1996) (stating that criminal intent does not require "proof of knowledge of the existence . . . of the statute under which the actor is prosecuted or the scope or meaning of the terms used in that statute.").

The record also supports the trial court's finding that appellant intended to confine or restrain the victim by "taping" him until he could no longer move. The placement of duct tape around the victim's arms and legs left the victim immobilized, thereby confining and restraining him. Moreover, unlike the defendant in Dokken, appellant did not untie the victim before leaving him.

Finally, the statute draws an exception for acts committed with the consent of a victim or a minor victim's parent or custodian, and the record in this case indicates that the minor victim's parents had not consented to appellant's conduct. Consequently, the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, sufficiently supports the trial court's adjudication for false imprisonment.


[ ]1This appeal evidently occurs because of the possible long-term effects that a juvenile adjudication for a felony-level offense may have. In particular, appellant notes that several professions require disclosure of juvenile records and that a juvenile offense may result in an adult felony point for purposes of a prospective future application of the adult sentencing guidelines. In calculating a history score for sentencing in a criminal case, the sentencing guidelines generally assign an offender "one point for every two offenses committed as a juvenile that would have been felonies if committed by an adult." Minn. Sent. Guidelines II.B.4. The guidelines do not provide for partial points based on a juvenile criminal history. See Minn. Sent. Guidelines cmt. II.B.405 ("Two juvenile offenses are required for each additional point. Again, no partial points are allowed, so an offender with only one juvenile offense meeting the above criteria would receive no point on the criminal history score.").