Defendant has committed assault in the course of aiding and abetting first-degree burglary with assault as well as aided and abetted third-degree assault and was sentenced for both offenses.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed decision of the initial trial court. Then defendant petitioned for review. The judgment of the Minnesota Court of Appeals was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Minnesota.
While considering petition the Supreme Court ruled for (a) interpreting the statute and (b) essential matter of petition, i.e. burglary with assault.
Statute must be constructed to ascertain and effectuate the legislative intention. In course of interpretation it must be determined whether the statute’s language is clear and unambiguous. In absence of ambiguity the court must apply its plain meaning of the statute. If the wording of the statute bears more than one exact meaning it is viewed as susceptible to many distinct interpretations. Yet ambiguity of a criminal statute it, as per rule, is required to be construed narrowly in favor of lenity.
A person may commit first-degree burglary in several ways. In particular, a burglar may commit the act by means of dangerous weapon, or assault the victim within the building or on the building’s appurtenant property. Moreover, a conviction of the crime of burglary is not a bar to conviction of and punishment for other types crime while entering a building or being inside it. Minnesota criminal legislation allows to bring separate convictions and sentences for burglary and collateral crimes. “Multiple punishments for a single behavioral incident involving burglary will not unduly exaggerate the culpability of a defendant’s conduct”.
The court has examined whether the crimes of first-degree burglary and third-degree assault required proof of different statutory elements.
A charge for first-degree burglary with assault is not a bar to a conviction of any other crime committed during the course of the burglary. On base of factual evidence of the case multiple convictions can be appropriate if statutory elements of each type crime are obviously different. “Because third-degree assault required proof of different statutory elements than first-degree burglary with assault, it fell within the meaning of “any other crime” under Minn. Stat. § 609.585. When there was a single course of conduct involving one assault, a conviction and sentence for first-degree burglary with assault was not a bar to a conviction and sentence for third-degree assault committed during the course of the burglary”.