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State v. S.A.M.

Supreme Court of Minnesota

March 15, 2017

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
S.A.M., Appellant.

         Court of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Mark A. Ostrem, Olmsted County Attorney, James P. Spencer, Senior Assistant County Attorney, Rochester, Minnesota, for respondent.

          David L. Liebow, Restovich Braun & Associates, Rochester, Minnesota, for appellant.

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, William Ward, State Public Defender, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Minnesota Board of Public Defense.

          Joshua Esmay, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Council on Crime and Justice.

          Daniel J. Koewler, Ramsay Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Roseville, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

          Yaima Couso, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Volunteer Lawyers Network.

         SYLLABUS

         A felony conviction deemed a misdemeanor under Minn. Stat. § 609.13, subd. 1(2) (2016), is not eligible for expungement under Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, subd. 3(a)(3) (2016).

         Affirmed.

          OPINION

          ANDERSON, Justice.

         In 2005, appellant S.A.M. pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary, a felony offense. The district court stayed imposition of the sentence, and when S.A.M. was released from probation the conviction was deemed a misdemeanor under Minn. Stat. § 609.13, subd. 1(2) (2016). S.A.M. filed a petition for expungement in January 2015. The district court denied S.A.M.'s petition and the court of appeals affirmed. Because we conclude that felony convictions later deemed misdemeanors by operation of law under Minn. Stat. § 609.13, subd. 1(2), are not eligible for expungement under Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, subd. 3(a)(3) (2016), we affirm.

         I.

         On the night of December 5, 2003, S.A.M. and two other people were involved in a burglary of a home-based motocross supply business. S.A.M. claimed that he drove the two co-defendants to the area and waited in the car until they returned with a large bag of stolen goods. His co-defendants told a different story; they stated that S.A.M. wanted to steal a motorcycle, used a credit card to open the door, and entered the building with them.

         S.A.M. eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary, a felony offense. Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 2(a) (2006). Because S.A.M.'s criminal history score was zero, the district court stayed imposition of his sentence and ordered probation for up to 10 years. Less than 3 years later, S.A.M. was discharged from probation because he had completed all court-ordered conditions of probation, including that he remain law-abiding. As a result of the stay of imposition and S.A.M.'s compliance with the terms of probation, S.A.M.'s felony conviction was deemed a misdemeanor under Minn. Stat. § 609.13, subd. 1(2).

         In January 2015, S.A.M. filed a petition for expungement under Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, subd. 3(a)(3). In support of his petition, S.A.M. stated that he had obtained a bachelor's degree, purchased a house, stopped drinking alcohol, taken responsibility for raising his 8-year-old son, and ceased associating with his co-defendants. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Rochester City Attorney, Rochester Police Department, and Olmsted County Attorney all objected to the expungement petition, arguing that S.A.M.'s felony burglary conviction cannot be expunged under Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, subd. 3(a)(3), because that provision allows the expungement of only misdemeanors. They also argued that S.A.M.'s conviction cannot be expunged under Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, subd. 3(a)(5) (2016), which provides for expungement of certain enumerated felonies, because burglary is not included in the list of felonies that are eligible for expungement.

         The district court denied the expungement petition, concluding that S.A.M. was not "convicted of" a misdemeanor and therefore could not petition for expungement under Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, subd. 3(a)(3). The court of appeals affirmed. State v. S.A.M., 877 N.W.2d 205 (Minn.App. 2016). We granted review to determine whether a felony conviction that is deemed a misdemeanor by operation of law under Minn. Stat. § 609.13, subd. 1(2), can be expunged under Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, subd. 3(a)(3). Because we conclude that such convictions cannot be expunged under this provision, we affirm.

         II.

         This case presents a question of statutory interpretation. Statutory interpretation is a question of law, which we review de novo. LaMont v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 728, 814 N.W.2d 14, 18 (Minn. 2012). The goal of all statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate the intent of the Legislature. Minn. Stat. § 645.16 (2016). We construe words and phrases in a statute according to their plain and ordinary meaning. Allan v. R.D. Offutt Co., 869 N.W.2d 31, 33 (Minn. 2015). We interpret a statute as a whole to give effect to all of its provisions. In re Welfare of J.J.P., 831 N.W.2d 260, 264 (Minn. ...


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