County District Court File No. 19HA-CR-16-1279
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. [*]
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
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
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.
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.
Must the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a
defendant unlawfully possessed methamphetamine?
Did the state produce sufficient evidence that appellant