of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts
Ellison, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Susan
L. Segal, Minneapolis City Attorney, Jennifer Saunders,
Assistant City Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Rachel
Bond, Assistant Public Defender, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for
previous interpretations of the indecent-exposure statute,
Minn. Stat. § 617.23, subd. 2 (2018), did not add the
element of specific intent.
plain and unambiguous language of the indecent-exposure
statute creates a general-intent crime.
Mohamed Musa Jama was convicted of gross-misdemeanor indecent
exposure for conduct that occurred on a public sidewalk in
the presence of children who were under the age of 16. On
appeal, Jama contends that the indecent-exposure statute,
Minn. Stat. § 617.23, subd. 2 (2018), requires the State
to prove that he engaged in conduct with a specific intent to
be lewd and, therefore, the court of appeals erred when it
affirmed the district court's denial of his request for a
jury instruction on the defense of voluntary intoxication.
Because the indecent-exposure statute does not require the
State to prove that the defendant had a specific intent to be
lewd, we affirm.
5, 2015, Jama approached a family gathering in the front yard
of a home in south Minneapolis. While standing on the public
sidewalk, Jama pulled out his penis and fondled it with his
hands as he gyrated his body in a manner that simulated
sexual intercourse. At one point during the exposure, he was
within 5 feet of 4 young children- 2 infants, a 6-year old,
and a 12-year old. After an unsuccessful attempt to stop Jama
from exposing himself, a witness called 911. Jama was
arrested at the scene.
State of Minnesota charged Jama with indecent exposure in the
presence of a minor under the age of 16. See Minn.
Stat. § 617.23, subd. 2. Jama gave notice to the State
of his intent to assert the defense of voluntary
intoxication. Concluding that the indecent-exposure statute
creates a general-intent crime, the district court denied
Jama's request that the jury be instructed on the defense
of voluntary intoxication because that defense only applies
to specific-intent crimes. The jury found Jama guilty, and
the court of appeals affirmed his conviction. We granted
Jama's petition for review.
of Jama's appeal requires a review of the difference
between general and specific intent crimes. An offense is
considered a general-intent crime "[w]hen a statute
simply prohibits a person from intentionally engaging in the
prohibited conduct." State v. Fleck, 810 N.W.2d
303, 308 (Minn. 2012) (citing 1 Wayne R. LaFave,
Substantive Criminal Law § 5.2(e) (2d ed. 2003)
(explaining that general intent requires an "intention
to make the bodily movement which constitutes the act which
the crime requires")). Put differently, a general-intent
crime requires the State to prove that the offender committed
the prohibited act volitionally or deliberately, as opposed
to accidentally. Fleck, 810 N.W.2d at 310-12.
"It is not necessary that [the offender] intend the
resulting harm or know that his conduct is criminal. So long
as the offender has voluntarily done the act, the ...