564 N.W.2d 560 (Minn. 1997), CX-96-84, State v. Behl

Docket NºCX-96-84.
Citation564 N.W.2d 560
Opinion JudgeThe opinion of the court was delivered by: Tomljanovich
Party NameSTATE of Minnesota, Respondent, v. Donn Harvey BEHL, II, petitioner, Appellant.
Case DateMay 29, 1997
CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota

Page 560

564 N.W.2d 560 (Minn. 1997)

STATE of Minnesota, Respondent,

v.

Donn Harvey BEHL, II, petitioner, Appellant.

No. CX-96-84.

Supreme Court of Minnesota.

May 29, 1997

Page 561

Syllabus by the Court

1. Minnesota Statutes section 260.015, subdivision 5(b) grants the district court exclusive jurisdiction over juveniles 16 and older who have been indicted for first-degree

Page 562

murder, and consequently provides the district court with the exclusive jurisdiction to sentence those juveniles for all convictions arising out of the same behavioral incident that led to the indictment.

2. Minnesota Statutes section 260.015, subdivision 5(b) does not violate a juvenile's constitutional rights to procedural due process, substantive due process or equal protection of the laws by providing the district court with the exclusive jurisdiction to sentence juveniles 16 and older for all convictions arising out of the same behavioral incident that led to the indictment.

3. Minnesota Statutes section 260.015, subdivision 5(b) does not divest the juvenile court's jurisdiction over those charges relating to behavioral incidents separate from those that led to the indictment for first-degree murder.

Thomas E. Gorman, Gorman & Gorman, Red Wing, for appellant.

Gary Fridell, Goodhue County Atty., Red Wing, for respondent.

Heard, considered and decided by the court en banc.

OPINION

TOMLJANOVICH, Justice.

The state on January 25, 1995 charged by delinquency petition Donn Harvey Behl, II, a minor born November 30, 1978, with five criminal counts including first-degree murder. Four days later, the state automatically certified Behl as an adult under Minnesota Statutes section 260.015, subdivision 5(b) by filing an adult criminal complaint containing those same five counts, and thus terminated all proceedings in juvenile court arising out of the same behavioral incident. See Minn. R. Juv. P. 18.08, subd. 1. Approximately two weeks later, a grand jury indicted Behl on six criminal counts, including first-degree murder. After a week-long trial, a jury acquitted Behl of first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, second-degree murder, aggravated robbery and second-degree felony murder. The jury convicted Behl of possession or operation of a short-barrelled shotgun, theft of a motor vehicle and manslaughter in the second degree.

Behl moved the district court to return the case to the juvenile court for sentencing, but the court denied the motion and sentenced Behl to 12 months and 1 day for the shotgun conviction and a concurrent sentence of 72 months for the manslaughter conviction. 1 The court of appeals affirmed the denial of the motion and the sentencing order. State v. Behl, 547 N.W.2d 382 (Minn.App.1996). We also affirm the denial of the motion to return the defendant to juvenile court for sentencing, but we reverse that portion of the sentencing order based upon the shotgun conviction and remand the case to the district court for redetermination of the sentence in accordance with our ruling.

Although much of the testimony at trial was in conflict, the jury concluded that the following events occurred. Behl, who was 16 years old at the time, sawed off the barrel and stock of his father's 12-gauge shotgun and on January 20, 1995 took the gun to the home of his friend, Ryan Postier. Three days later, Behl and Postier skipped school and went to Postier's home in Pine Island, Minnesota. Ryan Postier's brother, Brad Postier, died at the home later that day after receiving a shotgun wound to the head from Behl's shotgun.

Behl and Ryan Postier were the only witnesses to the shooting. Behl and Ryan Postier then fled the scene in Brad Postier's truck. With Behl driving, the vehicle skidded out of control and ended up in a ditch. The two boys walked away from the crash and discarded certain items, including the shotgun, along the way. A Goodhue County sheriff's deputy picked up the boys later that day at approximately 3 p.m. He transported the boys to Pine Island and eventually released

Page 563

them. The boys separated, each returning to his own home. After arriving home, Ryan Postier called 911 and informed the dispatcher that he found his brother in his bedroom, apparently dead. Later that evening, investigators arrived at Behl's home. A short time later, Behl confessed to shooting Brad Postier.

The Goodhue County Attorney filed a delinquency petition on January 25, 1995 that included a charge of first-degree murder. Once the county attorney realized that the matter fell within the exclusionary provisions of Minnesota Statutes section 260.015, subdivision 5(b) and section 260.111, a criminal complaint was filed on January 29, 1995, and the delinquency petition was dismissed. On February 9, 1995, a Goodhue County grand jury indicted Behl on six criminal counts, including first-degree murder.

At trial, Behl said he had not been in Brad Postier's bedroom on the day of the shooting and that it was Ryan Postier who shot his brother. Behl admitted to preparing the short-barrelled shotgun and bringing it to the Postier's home, as well as to participating in the theft of Brad Postier's truck, but he said he confessed to the shooting only because Ryan Postier threatened him. The jury found Behl not guilty of first-degree murder, but guilty of manslaughter in the second degree in violation of Minnesota Statutes section 609.205, possession or operation of a short-barrelled shotgun in violation of section 609.67, subdivision 2, and theft of a motor vehicle in violation of section 609.52, subdivision 2(17).

Sentencing was scheduled for November 17, 1995. The presentence investigation report recommended the presumptive sentence for each offense. Those presumptive sentences were 12 months and 1 day for the shotgun conviction, 58 months (based on one criminal history point for the shotgun conviction) for the manslaughter conviction, and 15 months (based on two criminal history points) for the motor vehicle theft conviction. Behl moved the court to return the case to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for sentencing and a downward departure. The district court on November 20, 1995 denied both motions and proceeded to sentence Behl. The court found that Behl's possession of a short-barrelled shotgun was not part of a single course of conduct and therefore sentenced Behl to 12 months and 1 day for the shotgun conviction. The court sentenced Behl to 72 months for the manslaughter conviction, a 25 percent upward departure from 58 months--the presumptive sentence based on one criminal history point for the shotgun conviction. The court ordered the two sentences to be served concurrently. The court also found that the motor vehicle theft was part of the same behavioral incident as the manslaughter and therefore imposed no sentence for that conviction.

Behl now raises two distinct issues: Whether the district court had jurisdiction to sentence the juvenile appellant for his convictions, and if it did, whether the sentences were appropriate.

I.

A statute provided the basis for the district court's jurisdiction over the juvenile. Consequently, the issue of the district court's jurisdiction is a question of law that is fully reviewable by this court. See Hibbing Educ. Ass'n v. Public Employment Relations Bd., 369 N.W.2d 527, 529 (Minn.1985) (stating that the construction of a statute is a question of law).

The legislature has conferred original and exclusive jurisdiction upon the juvenile court in proceedings concerning any "child" who is alleged to be delinquent. Minn.Stat. § 260.111, subd. 1 (1996). In 1994, however, the legislature withdrew the juvenile court's jurisdiction "over proceedings concerning a child excluded from the definition of delinquent child under section 260.015, subdivision 5, paragraph (b)." Minn.Stat. § 260.111, subd. 1a. Section 260.015, subdivision 5, paragraph (b) excludes from the definition of "delinquent child" any "child alleged to have committed murder in the first degree after becoming 16 years of age * * *." Under this statute--commonly referred to as automatic waiver, automatic certification or legislative waiver--"juvenile court jurisdiction terminates all proceedings arising out of the same behavioral incident." Minn. R. Juv. P. 18.08, subd. 1. Because Behl had turned 16 years of

Page 564

age at the time he allegedly committed the acts that led to his indictment for first-degree murder, 2 the district court had original and exclusive jurisdiction over that portion of the case "arising out of the same behavioral incident" that led to the indictment for first-degree murder.

Although Behl does not dispute the district court's original jurisdiction over all allegations related to the "same behavioral incident" leading to his first-degree murder indictment, he contends that once the jury found him not guilty of the only allegation upon which the district court's jurisdiction was based, the district court no longer could sentence him as an adult without first granting him a hearing similar to those used to certify a "delinquent child" for district court. See Minn.Stat. § 260.125 (1996) (establishing system for certification of juvenile to district court).

Behl concedes that the legislature in passing section 260.015 did not specifically address the disposition of a juvenile acquitted of first-degree murder (the enumerated charge), but convicted of a lesser offense (non-enumerated charge). He argues, however, that the legislature never intended for automatic certification to result in automatic district court sentencing for juveniles acquitted of first-degree murder. And if this court concludes that the legislature did intend such a result, he argues that the automatic imposition of adult sentences for crimes other than those enumerated in the automatic-certification statute violates his procedural due process, substantive due process and equal...

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95 practice notes
  • 657 N.W.2d 577 (Minn.Ct.App. 2003), C5-02-1508, In re P.T.
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • March 4, 2003
    ...require the state "to treat things that are different in fact or opinion as though they were the same in law." State v. Behl, 564 N.W.2d 560, 568 (Minn.1997). A state is not prevented by the equal protection clause from according two parents different legal rights, where one paren......
  • 843 N.W.2d 249 (Minn.App. 2014), A13-1028, Dean v. City of Winona
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • February 24, 2014
    ...that the statute not be arbitrary or capricious; the statute must provide a reasonable means to a permissible objective. State v. Behl, 564 N.W.2d 560, 567 (Minn.1997). Appellants do not argue that a fundamental right is at stake, so the rational-basis standard applies. See Boutin v. LaFleu......
  • 884 N.W.2d 674 (Minn. App. 2016), A15-1943, Gustafson v. Commissioner of Human Servs.
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • July 25, 2016
    ...to treat individuals who are " different in fact or opinion as though they were the same in law." State v. Behl, 564 N.W.2d 560, 568 (Minn. 1997). If the threshold " similarly situated" requirement is satisfied, the next issue is whether there is a &q......
  • 946 N.W.2d 596 (Minn. 2020), A19-0323, State v. Jorgenson
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court of Minnesota
    • July 22, 2020
    ...170 (Minn. 2017). We presume that a statute is constitutional and strike it down only if absolutely necessary. State v. Behl, 564 N.W.2d 560, 566 (Minn. 1997). In the First Amendment context, however, the State bears the burden to show that a "content-based res......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
93 cases
  • 657 N.W.2d 577 (Minn.Ct.App. 2003), C5-02-1508, In re P.T.
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • March 4, 2003
    ...require the state "to treat things that are different in fact or opinion as though they were the same in law." State v. Behl, 564 N.W.2d 560, 568 (Minn.1997). A state is not prevented by the equal protection clause from according two parents different legal rights, where one paren......
  • 843 N.W.2d 249 (Minn.App. 2014), A13-1028, Dean v. City of Winona
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • February 24, 2014
    ...that the statute not be arbitrary or capricious; the statute must provide a reasonable means to a permissible objective. State v. Behl, 564 N.W.2d 560, 567 (Minn.1997). Appellants do not argue that a fundamental right is at stake, so the rational-basis standard applies. See Boutin v. LaFleu......
  • 884 N.W.2d 674 (Minn. App. 2016), A15-1943, Gustafson v. Commissioner of Human Servs.
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • July 25, 2016
    ...to treat individuals who are " different in fact or opinion as though they were the same in law." State v. Behl, 564 N.W.2d 560, 568 (Minn. 1997). If the threshold " similarly situated" requirement is satisfied, the next issue is whether there is a &q......
  • 946 N.W.2d 596 (Minn. 2020), A19-0323, State v. Jorgenson
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court of Minnesota
    • July 22, 2020
    ...170 (Minn. 2017). We presume that a statute is constitutional and strike it down only if absolutely necessary. State v. Behl, 564 N.W.2d 560, 566 (Minn. 1997). In the First Amendment context, however, the State bears the burden to show that a "content-based res......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • The false promise of adolescent brain science in juvenile justice.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 85 Nbr. 1, November 2009
    • November 1, 2009
    ...This Article uses the term "transfer" to avoid confusion with waiver of constitutional fights. (162) See, e.g., State v. Behl, 564 N.W.2d 560, 566-69 (Minn. 1997). But see State v. Mohi, 901 P.2d 991, 995-1004 (Utah 1995) (invalidating a prosecutorial transfer scheme as violative ......
  • Juvenile Justice: The Fourth Option
    • United States
    • Iowa Law Review Nbr. 95-1, November 2009
    • November 1, 2009
    ...(upholding a California statute that allows prosecutors to charge minors in criminal court rather than juvenile court); State v. Behl, 564 N.W.2d 560 (Minn. 1997) (upholding the conviction of a juvenile who was tried as an adult under Minnesota's automatic-certification statute). [145] Terr......