Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-12-5572
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)
Cathryn Middlebrook, Interim Chief Appellate Public Defender, Benjamin J. Butler, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Cleary, Chief Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Kirk, Judge.
CLEARY, CHIEF JUDGE
In this sentencing appeal, appellant argues that, under Minnesota Statutes section 609.035 (2010), the district court erred in imposing sentences for both false imprisonment and second-degree assault because the offenses were committed during the same behavioral incident. We reverse and remand.
Appellant Wayne Anthony Lindsey and the victim were previously involved in a romantic relationship. The victim subsequently informed appellant that she no longer wished to be involved with him. After their relationship ended, the following incident occurred.
On the morning of July 7, 2012, the victim drove to a Subway restaurant located in Saint Paul. She left her car unlocked and the windows rolled down while she was in the restaurant ordering food. While the victim was inside the restaurant, appellant got into her car. The victim left the restaurant, got back in her car, and discovered appellant holding a knife. Appellant then proceeded to hold the knife to her neck and, according to the victim, threatened to kill her if she did not drive. Although the victim sat behind the wheel, the car drove off with appellant pressing the gas pedal and steering while holding the knife to her stomach. After driving a few blocks, the victim stopped the car in an alley and tried to get out of the car. Appellant got out of the car, punched her, and attempted to shove her into the passenger side of the vehicle. After appellant stopped punching the victim, she closed the door and drove off.
Appellant was arrested on July 7, 2012. He was subsequently charged with a number of crimes. He pleaded guilty to second-degree assault (Minn. Stat. § 609.222, subd. 1 (2010)) and false imprisonment (Minn. Stat. § 609.255, subd. 2 (2010)). All other charges were dismissed. The district court issued concurrent sentences of 27 months in prison for second-degree assault and 15 months in prison for false imprisonment. Appellant now appeals.
Appellant argues that the district court erred in ordering sentences for second-degree assault and false imprisonment since both offenses were committed during a single behavioral incident. Generally, if an individual's conduct constitutes more than one criminal offense, that person may only be punished for one of the offenses. See Minn. Stat. § 609.035, subd. 1 (2010). Minnesota Statutes section 609.035 "prohibits multiple sentences, even concurrent sentences, for two or more offenses that were committed as part of a single behavioral incident." State v. Norregaard, 384 N.W.2d 449, 449 (Minn. 1986). This court reviews whether multiple offenses are part of a single behavioral incident as a question of law subject to de novo review. See State v. Marchbanks, 632 N.W.2d 725, 731 (Minn.App. 2001) (stating that review of whether multiple offenses are part of a single behavioral incident is de novo where the facts are established). "The state has the burden to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the conduct underlying the offenses did not occur as part of a single behavioral incident." State v. Williams, 608 N.W.2d 837, 841 (Minn. 2000). The protection against multiple sentences arising from the same behavioral incident cannot be waived. State v. Johnson, 653 N.W.2d 646, 650-51 (Minn.App. 2002).
In reviewing whether multiple offenses arise from a single behavioral incident, courts determine "whether they (1) share a unity of time and place and (2) were motivated by an effort to obtain a single criminal objective." State v. Bauer, 776 N.W.2d 462, 479 (Minn.App. 2009), aff'd, 792 N.W.2d 825 (Minn. 2011). This inquiry "depends heavily on ...