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State v. Behl

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

May 13, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Tara Teresa Behl, Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-11-33659

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Susan L. Segal, Minneapolis City Attorney, Dawn Knutson, Assistant City Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

William M. Ward, Hennepin County Public Defender, Kellie M. Charles, Assistant Public Defender, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Johnson, Chief Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Hooten, Judge.

SCHELLHAS, Judge

Appellant challenges her convictions of theft and receiving stolen property, arguing that the district court erroneously instructed the jury and imposed sentences for both offenses when they arose out of the same behavioral incident. Because the district court's jury instructions were not erroneous, we affirm in part. Because Behl's convictions arose out of a single behavioral incident, we remand to the district court for vacation of one of Behl's sentences.

FACTS

In the early morning hours of August 20, 2011, E.H. was walking home with several friends after celebrating a friend's birthday. E.H. was carrying a brown leather backpack, which contained her wallet, makeup, and other personal belongings.[1] Near the intersection of Lyndale and Franklin Avenues in Minneapolis, one of E.H.'s friends kicked some construction cones, after which two women from across the street yelled at E.H. and her friends; E.H. yelled back; the two women crossed the street; one woman punched E.H.; and E.H. and her friends fought with the two women. When the Minneapolis police arrived, people disbursed, and E.H. was then unable to locate her backpack.

When Minneapolis Police Officers Anna Hansen and Oscar Martinez-Gavina arrived at the scene, they encountered a group of people screaming the following: someone had taken a purse, someone had been assaulted, and a group of people had gone to a vehicle in a parking lot across the street. Officers Hansen and Martinez-Gavina pulled into the parking lot and observed people inside the vehicle ducking their heads down. The officers approached the vehicle and made contact with the driver and passengers. Appellant Tara Behl was seated in the rear passenger seat with three purses beside her. Officer Hanson asked Behl to whom the purses belonged, and Behl said that the black purse belonged to Kelly, whose last name she did not know, and that the other two, one pink and white and one brown, were hers. The brown purse actually belonged to E.H.

Respondent State of Minnesota charged Behl with theft and receiving stolen property in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.52, .53 (2010). The district court instructed the jury on the elements of the two charged offenses and, over Behl's objection, included the word "conceals" in the definitions of theft and receiving stolen property:

Theft, Taking Property of Another, defined. The statutes of Minnesota provide[] that whoever intentionally and without claim of right takes, conceals, or retains possession of movable property of another without the other's consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession of the property is guilty of a crime. . . .
Receiving Stolen Property, defined. The statutes of Minnesota provide that whoever possesses or conceals property, knowing or having reason to know the property was stolen, is guilty of a crime. Receiving Stolen Property, elements. The elements of receiving stolen property are, first, the brown leather backpack/purse in question was stolen. This means that the brown leather backpack/purse was taken by someone without the consent of the owner and with the intention of depriving the owner permanently of possession of the brown leather backpack/purse; second the defendant possessed or concealed the brown leather backpack/purse; third, the defendant knew or had reason to know the brown leather backpack/purse was stolen; fourth, the defendant's act took place in the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, State of Minnesota.

(Emphasis added.) Cf. 10 Minnesota Practice, CRIMJIG 16.01, 16.47, 16.48 (2006) (providing substantively similar definitions for offenses of ...


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