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State v. Brown

December 21, 2004

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
LARON BROWN, APPELLANT.



Hennepin County District Court File No. 02103476.

Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Schumacher, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

In accordance with guarantees of equal protection under the United States and Minnesota Constitutions, there is a rational basis to classify possession of a theft tool as a felony and underlying thefts as gross misdemeanors.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crippen, Judge

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

Crippen, Judge*fn1

OPINION

Appellant LaRon Brown challenges his conviction of possession of a theft tool, contending that classifying the offense as a felony violates his right to the equal protection of the laws. Appellant also asserts that his conviction is not supported by sufficient evidence and that aggravating factors affecting his sentence were not tried before a jury in accordance with the Sixth Amendment. We affirm the conviction but reverse and remand for resentencing.

FACTS

Appellant was charged with possession of burglary or theft tools, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.59 (2002). The state alleged that appellant used a cutting tool to remove a jacket from a department store rack and attempted to take the jacket from the premises. Following a jury verdict that convicted appellant of this charge, the district court determined that appellant was a pattern offender under Minn. Stat. § 609.1095, subd. 4 (2002). As a result, the district court imposed 36 months' imprisonment, an upward durational departure from the guidelines presumptive sentence and the statutory maximum for the offense.

ISSUES

I. Does an equal protection violation exist under the United States and Minnesota Constitutions where possession of a theft tool is classified as a felony offense but the underlying theft is classified as a gross misdemeanor?

II. Was there sufficient evidence to establish a conviction of possession of a theft tool?

III. Is there a violation of the right to a jury trial under the Sixth Amendment when, in applying the career offender sentencing statute, the fact of a pattern ...


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