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State v. Jones

April 17, 2003



The addition of a 10-year conditional release term pursuant to Minn. Stat. §á609.108, subd. 6, after the respondent's sentence was already enhanced pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.108, subd. 1, violates due process because it exceeds the statutory maximum sentence and it is imposed based on factual findings made by the district court using a preponderance of the evidence standard.

Respondent is subject to the 5-year conditional release term mandated by Minn. Stat. § 609.109, subd. 7 for violations of Minn. Stat. § 609.344, which does not require any additional factual findings by the district court after a jury verdict.

Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.

Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, Justice


This case involves review of a court of appeals decision that the addition of a 10-year conditional release term to respondent Jela DeShaun Jones's 15-year sentence for third-degree criminal sexual conduct violated the constitutional rule announced in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000). A Le Sueur County jury found Jones guilty of two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. The district court sentenced Jones to a 15-year sentence using the patterned and predatory sex offender statute, Minn. Stat. §á609.108, subd. 1 (2002), and then imposed an additional 10-year conditional release term, under subdivision 6 of the same statute. Minn. Stat. §á609.108, subd. 6 (2002). Concluding that imposition of the conditional release term violated the rule set forth in Apprendi, the court of appeals reversed Jones's sentence and remanded with instructions to reduce the conditional release term. We reverse in part, affirm in part and remand.

Between February and July 2000, Jones had sexual relations with 15-year-old S.G. multiple times. In July 2000, Jones also sexually assaulted S.G.'s 17-year-old sister, A.G. While A.G. was sleeping, Jones entered her bedroom, laid down next to her, unbuttoned her pants and inserted his finger into her vagina. Subsequently, Jones was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct: (1) sexual penetration of a person between 13 and 16 years of age in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd.á1(b) (2002) (Count I); and (2) sexual penetration of a person he knows to be helpless in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd. 1(d) (Count II). A jury found Jones guilty of both counts.

At the sentencing hearing, the district court entered judgment of conviction on both counts. Addressing Count I, the court sentenced Jones in accordance with the sentencing guidelines to 28 months and stayed the execution for 15 years. Turning to Count II, the court sentenced Jones to the statutory maximum prison sentence, 15 years for violating Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd. 1(d) by utilizing the patterned and predatory sex offender statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.108, subd. 1. As the factual basis to support the enhancement of the sentence, the court found that Jones was a patterned sex offender based on the following findings: (1) Jones's conduct was motivated by sexual impulses and was part of a predatory sexual pattern; (2) Jones presented a "very clear" danger to society at large and specifically to females under the age of 16; and (3) Jones was not amenable to probation. In addition, pursuant to subdivision 6 of Minn. Stat. § 609.108, the court notified Jones that he was also subject to 10 years of conditional release to begin after the completion of his incarceration.

On appeal to the court of appeals, Jones argued, among other claims, that he was sentenced to more than the statutory maximum sentence in violation of the United States Constitution as interpreted in Apprendi. The court concluded that the conditional release term, added to the 15-year sentence, violated the constitution and reversed Jones's sentence. State v. Jones, 647 N.W.2d 540, 548 (Minn. App. 2002). The court remanded for resentencing and instructed the district court to "reduce appellant's conditional release time to less than ten years so that the conditional release time plus the incarceration time do not exceed the statutory maximum of 15 years." Id. We granted the state's petition for review and must determine whether Minn. Stat. § 609.108, subd. 6, as applied to Jones, violates the rule of due process announced by the United States Supreme Court in Apprendi.


We review constitutional challenges to statutes de novo. State v. Grossman, 636áN.W.2d 545, 548 (Minn. 2001). Minnesota statutes are presumed to be constitutional and the party challenging a statute on constitutional grounds "must demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the statute violates a provision of the constitution." Id.

Jones asserts that his 10-year conditional release term imposed under Minn. Stat. §á609.108, subd. 6 violates Apprendi.*fn1 The facts of Apprendi are as follows. On December 22, 1994, Apprendi fired several.22-caliber bullets into the home of an African-American family in Vineland, New Jersey. Apprendi, 530 U.S. at 469. After being indicted for the shooting, he entered into a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose. Id. at 469-70. Under New Jersey law, the offense carried a maximum prison sentence of 10áyears. Id. atá470. As part of the plea agreement, the state reserved the right to increase the sentence under a separate hate crime statute that authorized the imposition of an "enhanced" sentence when the offense was committed with a biased purpose. Id. The district court found by a preponderance of the evidence that the crime was motivated by racial bias and sentenced Apprendi to a 12-year term of imprisonment using the separate hate crime statute. This sentence was 2 years more than the 10-year statutory maximum sentence for the possession of a firearm offense. Id. at 470-71.

On appeal, the Supreme Court considered whether due process "requires that a factual determination authorizing an increase in the maximum prison sentence * * * be made by a jury on the basis of proof beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. at 469. The Court stated that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial entitle a defendant to "a jury determination that [he] is guilty of every element of the crime with which he is charged, beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. at 478 (quoting United States v. Gaudin, 515 U.S. 506, 510 (1995)). Applying this principle, the Court articulated the following rule: "[o]ther than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt." Apprendi, 530 U.S. at 490. Thus, we must determine whether Jones's 10-year conditional release ...

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