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State v. Prigge

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

July 31, 2017

State of Minnesota, Appellant,
v.
Christopher Michael Prigge, Respondent.

         Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-16-13286

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Steven M. Tallen, Maple Grove City Attorney, Tallen & Baertschi, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Scott J. Strouts, Scott J. Strouts LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Larry Rapoport, Larry Rapoport, Ltd., Minnetonka, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Considered and decided by Larkin, Presiding Judge; Johnson, Judge; and Reilly, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         The phrase to "carry a pistol on or about the person's clothes or person" in Minnesota Statutes section 624.7142, subdivision 1, subsection 4 (2016), prohibiting such carrying in a public place while under the influence of alcohol, requires a physical nexus between the person or the person's clothes and the pistol.

          OPINION

          REILLY, Judge.

         The state appeals the district court's pretrial dismissal of a charge of carrying a pistol while under the influence of alcohol in violation of Minnesota Statutes section 624.7142, subdivision 1(4), arguing that carrying a pistol "on or about the person's clothes or person" does not require a physical nexus between the pistol and the person or the person's clothes. Because the pretrial dismissal order has a critical impact, appellate review is appropriate. And because the plain language of the statute is limited in application to situations in which there is a physical nexus between the person or the person's clothes and the pistol, and no such evidence is present here, we affirm the order dismissing the charge.

         FACTS

         In April 2016, a Maple Grove police officer conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle driven by respondent Christopher Michael Prigge. Based upon his training and experience, the officer concluded that Prigge was under the influence of alcohol and arrested him for impaired driving. During an ensuing inventory search of Prigge's vehicle, the police discovered a loaded handgun in the bottom of the vehicle's center console compartment. The state charged appellant with several offenses, including carrying a pistol while under the influence of alcohol in violation of Minnesota Statutes section 624.7142, subdivision 1, subsection 4. Prigge moved to dismiss the charge for lack of probable cause. The district court granted the motion, reasoning that the facts were insufficient to support probable cause because Prigge was not carrying the pistol on or about his clothes or his person, and the statute's prohibited conduct did not extend to a pistol in the center console compartment of a vehicle. The state appeals.

         ISSUES

         I. Is the district court's pretrial dismissal order appealable under Minnesota Rule of Criminal Procedure 28.04, subdivision 1, subsection 1, and subdivision 2?

         II. Did the district court err in concluding that the phrase to "carry a pistol on or about the person's clothes or person" in Minnesota Statutes section 624.7142, subdivision 1, subsection 4, requires a physical nexus ...


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