State v. Larson, No. A21-0220 (Minn. 2022)
Nature of Case: Under Minnesota law, a “predatory offender” must register “with the corrections agent as soon as the agent is assigned to the person.” Between 2004 and 2018, Appellant was convicted and sentenced on seven separate occasions for failing to register. In August 2019, after he was assigned a new corrections agent, Appellant refused to sign the required registration paperwork. The corrections agent asked a special agent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (the Bureau) for help in obtaining the necessary paperwork from Appellant. When the special agent from the Bureau met with Appellant in August 2019, Appellant refused to sign the required paperwork. In September 2019, the special agent asked Appellant to sign the same paperwork, and Appellant refused a second time.
The State then charged Appellant with two counts of failing to register under Minnesota law, one for each month’s refusal. Appellant moved to dismiss the charges on double jeopardy grounds. The district court issued an order denying Appellant’s motion, which the court of appeals affirmed.
The issue raised in this case is whether double jeopardy principles limit the number of times that the state may charge a defendant with failing to register as a predatory offender under Minnesota law.
Holding: The Minnesota Supreme Court held that for double jeopardy purposes, the unit of prosecution for a failure to register under Minnesota law is the assignment of a corrections agent. Although Appellant’s earlier convictions did not bar prosecution of the August 2019 offense, which involved a different assignment of a corrections agent. Because the September 2019 offense involved the same assignment of a corrections agent as the August 2019 offense, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that prosecution of the September 2019 offense is barred. The Court therefore affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the district court to vacate the conviction entered for the September 2019 offense.