555 N.W.2d 749 (Minn.App. 1996), C9-96-884, City of Pine Springs v. One 1992 Harley Davidson, VIN: 1HD1DJL10NY510116, License No. 20438MC

Docket Nº:C9-96-884.
Citation:555 N.W.2d 749
Opinion Judge:The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crippen
Party Name:CITY OF PINE SPRINGS, Respondent, v. ONE 1992 HARLEY DAVIDSON, VIN: 1HD1DJL10NY510116, LICENSE NO: 20438MC, Appellant.
Attorney:Jennifer M. Dietz, Lawson, Marshall, McDonald & Galowitz, P.a., 3880 Laverne Avenue North, Lake Elmo, MN 55042 (for Respondent).
Case Date:November 05, 1996
Court:Court of Appeals of Minnesota

Page 749

555 N.W.2d 749 (Minn.App. 1996)




NO: 20438MC, Appellant.

No. C9-96-884.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota.

November 5, 1996

Syllabus by the Court

Presumptively, forfeitures that are designated as civil and pursued in rem do not constitute double jeopardy. To show that an in rem forfeiture is a second punishment there must be the clearest proof that it is so punitive either in purpose or effect as to be equivalent to a criminal proceeding.

Jennifer M. Dietz, Lawson, Marshall, McDonald

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& Galowitz, P.A., Lake Elmo, for Respondent.

Peter D. Mellom, West St. Paul, for Appellant.

Considered and decided by HARTEN, P.J., and CRIPPEN and FORSBERG, [*] JJ.



Claimant had an accident while riding his motorcycle (the appellant in proceedings taken in rem ) with an alcohol concentration of over .10 percent. Respondent City of Pine Springs seized the motorcycle and served a summons and complaint for forfeiture. Claimant subsequently pleaded guilty to Driving With an Alcohol Concentration of .10 or more, a gross misdemeanor. Minn.Stat. § 169.121, subds. 1(d), 3(c)(1) (1994). At the forfeiture proceeding, the trial court found that the taking was proper and that it did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause of either the United States or Minnesota Constitutions.


The parties have stipulated to the facts. After claimant drove his motorcycle into a ditch, emergency personnel took him to a local hospital where, at the direction of a peace officer, the treating physician drew a blood sample. A subsequent test by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension indicated that claimant's alcohol concentration was .19 percent, well over the legal limit in Minnesota. Furthermore, at the time of the accident, claimant's driver's license had been cancelled due to a previous Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) offense. As such, claimant's motorcycle was subject to forfeiture under Minn.Stat. § 169.1217 (1994 & Supp.1995). Prior to the criminal trial, claimant pleaded guilty to one count of gross misdemeanor DWI. At the subsequent forfeiture trial, the court found that civil forfeiture of the motorcycle was proper and that it did not constitute double jeopardy.


Where a case is decided on stipulated facts, the only issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred in its application of the law. Fingerhut Corp. v. Suburban Nat'l Bank, 460 N.W.2d 63, 65 (Minn.App.1990). A reviewing court is not bound by and need not give deference to a trial court's decision on a purely legal issue. Frost-Benco Elec. Ass'n v. Minnesota Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 358 N.W.2d 639, 642 (Minn.1984). Consequently, we review the issue of double jeopardy de novo.

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that "[n]o person shall * * * be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." U.S. Const. amend. V. Similarly, the Minnesota Constitution provides that "no person shall be put twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense." Minn. Const. art. I, § 7. The Double Jeopardy Clauses of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions prohibit both multiple punishment and successive prosecution. North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 2076, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969). Thus, a criminal adjudication followed by a civil forfeiture, or vice versa, violates double jeopardy only if the forfeiture constitutes "punishment."

This court recently held that forfeiture of an automobile under Minn.Stat. § 169.1217 (1994 & Supp.1995) does not constitute "punishment" for the purposes of double jeopardy. City of New Hope v. 1986 Mazda 626, 546 N.W.2d 300, 304 (Minn.App.1996). In 1986 Mazda 626, the court based its double jeopardy analysis on the Minnesota Supreme Court case of State v. Hanson, 543 N.W.2d 84, 87-89 (Minn.1996). 1986 Mazda 626, 546 N.W.2d at 303-04. In Hanson, analyzing the Double Jeopardy Clauses of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions, the court held that a civil driver's license revocation for driving under the influence does not bar subsequent criminal prosecution for the

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same conduct. Id. at 88-90. The Hanson court adopted the "solely deterrent/retributive" test of United States v. Halper, 490 U.S. 435, 109 S.Ct. 1892, 104 L.Ed.2d 487 (1989), which permits the imposition of a second, civil sanction "that can 'fairly be...

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