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State v. Clarin

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

May 14, 2018

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Jeremy Jake Clarin, Appellant.

          Dakota County District Court File No. 19HA-CR-16-1279

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Cassandra K. Shepherd, Assistant County Attorney, (for respondent)

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Rachel F. Bond, Assistant Public Defender, (for appellant)

          Considered and decided by Jesson, Presiding Judge; Reyes, Judge; and Kalitowski, Judge. [*]

         SYLLABUS

         The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant unlawfully possessed methamphetamine because unlawfulness is an element of the charge of second-degree controlled-substance crime, Minn. Stat. § 152.022 (2014).

          OPINION

          REYES, Judge

         In this appeal from final judgment of conviction of and sentence for second-degree controlled-substance crime, appellant argues that his conviction must be reversed because the state failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his possession of methamphetamine was unlawful. We affirm.

         FACTS

         On April 4, 2016, a Hastings police officer arrested appellant Jeremy Clarin for an offense unrelated to this appeal. Prior to putting appellant in the back seat of his squad car, the officer pat-frisked appellant and thoroughly searched the squad car. The officer then put appellant in the back seat of his squad car and transported him to the Dakota County jail. After the officer removed appellant from his squad car upon arrival, he noticed a small clear plastic bag containing a white powdery substance on the floor of the back seat near where appellant's feet had been. The officer suspected that it was a controlled substance, and field testing confirmed that the substance contained methamphetamine.

         On April 6, 2016, respondent State of Minnesota charged appellant with second-degree controlled-substance crime in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.022, subd. 2(a)(1). During appellant's jury trial, the state presented testimonial evidence from the arresting officer and an employee of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Science Laboratory. The BCA employee testified that the substance contained methamphetamine and weighed 23.084 grams. The state also presented photographs that the arresting officer took of the baggie of methamphetamine on the floor in the back seat of the squad car. The defense did not present any evidence or call any witnesses. The jury found appellant guilty, and the district court sentenced appellant to 98 months in prison. This appeal follows.

         ISSUES

         I. Must the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant unlawfully possessed methamphetamine?

         II. Did the state produce sufficient evidence that appellant ...


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