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State v. White

March 1, 2005

STATE OF MINNESOTA, APPELLANT,
v.
JESSICA RAE WHITE, RESPONDENT.



Hennepin County District Court. File No. 04034029.

Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Randall, Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

The interior of a vehicle traveling on a public street is not a "public place" for purposes of the gross-misdemeanor prostitution statute.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Toussaint, Chief Judge

Affirmed

Dissent Shumaker, Judge

OPINION

This appeal is from a pretrial order dismissing a charge of gross-misdemeanor prostitution, committed in a public place, under Minn. Stat. § 609.324, subd. 2 (2002). We affirm.

FACTS

The complaint alleges that on May 25, 2004, at about 1:00 a.m., undercover Officer Willis was driving an unmarked vehicle at 31st Street and 5th Avenue South in Minneapolis. Officer Willis saw respondent Jessica Rae White standing by the street and pulled his car over to the curb. White walked to the car and entered it "without invitation" from the officer. As Officer Willis drove, White first sought assurance that he was not a police officer and then asked Officer Willis what he wanted to do. After they negotiated an exchange of oral sex for $30, White Officer Willis signaled other officers, who arrested White.

White moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of probable cause, arguing that the interior of Officer Willis's car was not a "public place" as required by the statute under which she was charged. The district court granted the motion to dismiss, and the state filed this appeal.

ISSUE

Is the inside of a motor vehicle traveling on a public street a "public place" for purposes of the gross-misdemeanor prostitution statute?

ANALYSIS

Whether a statute has been properly construed is a question of law subject to de novo review. State v. Murphy, 545 N.W.2d 909, 914 (Minn. 1996). Respondent White, however, argues that because this is a pretrial appeal by the state, the district court must be affirmed unless the state shows its decision was clearly erroneous. See State v. Trei, 624 N.W.2d 595, 597 (Minn. App. 2001), review dismissed (Minn. June ...


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