The Minnesota Case of the Week is State v. Anderson, (Unpublished, Minnesota Court of Appeals, issued March 3, 2014) which stands for the proposition that if you are going to drive drunk, it is best not to assault the officers seeking to place you under arrest!
In Anderson, the Defendant was stopped by the State Patrol for speeding. When the trooper approached the driver's-side window, he smelled the odor of alcohol, observed the Defendant's speech was slurred and that Defendant's eyes were bloodshot and watery (i.e the holy trinity of state trooper dwi symptoms). The trooper asked Mr. Anderson to get out of his vehicle to perform some field sobriety tests. In response, Mr. Anderson stated, "F*ck you" and drove off at a high speed.
The state trooper gave chase and eventually Mr. Anderson lost control of his vehicle and crashed his car into a center median. The Defendant then got out of his car and charged the state trooper. Mr. Anderson punched the state trooper on the side of the head before being taken to the ground and placed under arrest.
The Defendant was charged, convicted and sentenced to 60 months in prison for Felony DWI, Fleeing a Police Officer and Fourth Degree Assault. On appeal, the Defendant argued that the trial court erred by imposing sentences on all three offenses because the charges all arose from the "same behavioral incident".
The Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected the Defendant's challenge and affirmed the District Court noting that: "As a general rule, if a person’s conduct constitutes more than one offense under the laws of this state, the person may be punished for only one of the offenses. Minn. Stat. § 609.035, subd. 1 (2010). Accordingly, if a person is charged with multiple offenses, a district court must determine whether the offenses resulted from a single behavioral incident, in which event multiple punishments are prohibited".
The purpose of the statute is to "protect a defendant convicted of multiple offenses against unfair exaggeration of the criminality of his conduct". And in determining whether multiple offenses arose from a single behavioral incident, the Court utilizes a two-part test:
(1) Did the offenses occur at substantially the same time and place, and;
(2) Did they all arise from a continuing and uninterrupted course of conduct, manifesting an indivisible state of mind or coincident errors of judgment.
In this case, the Court of Appeals held that the Defendant was correct that the three offenses, "occurred at substantially the same time and place". But the Court of Appeals then found the Defendant had failed to meet the second part of the test (i.e. the offenses did not arise from "a continuing and uninterrupted course of conduct, manifesting an indivisible state of mind or coincident errors of judgment").
The Appellate Court found that there were distinct interruptions that broke the continuity of the Defendant's conduct. Anderson was engaging in the first offense, DWI when he was stopped by the state trooper. The Defendant had pulled over the to side of the road and was initially cooperative with the trooper, thereby interrupting his criminal activity. But after speaking to the trooper for several minutes, Anderson decided to flee, thereby committing the second offense. After crashing his car and ending the chase (i.e. the second offense), the Defendant chose to then commit the third offense, assaulting a peace officer. Because Anderson's course of conduct was interrupted twice, the Court of Appeals held that the offenses did not arise from "continuing and uninterrupted course of conduct, manifesting an indivisible state of mind or coincident errors of judgment". Therefore, the offenses did not arise from a single behavioral incident and multiple sentences were properly imposed by the District Court.
Moral Of The Story: Drinking can make you mean.