Minnesota Cases of Interest

The following case summaries highlight specific forfeiture issues decided by Minnesota appellate courts.

In cases of joint ownership of a vehicle, the innocent-owner defense found in Minnesota Statutes, section 169A.63, subdivision 7, paragraph (d) only applies when all owners are innocent. Laase v. 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, 776 N.W.2d 431 (Minn. 2009) (involving husband and wife joint ownership; because wife was an owner and an offender, the defense did not apply and the vehicle was properly forfeitable).

“[T]he Minnesota Constitution’s homestead exemption, as implemented by Minnesota Statutes, section 510.01, exempts homestead property from forfeiture.” The court looked at the question of whether the drug-asset forfeiture statute, Minnesota Statutes, section 609.5311, subdivision 2, was constitutional as applied to homestead property. Torgelson v. Real Property Known As 17138 – 880th Ave., 749 N.W.2d 24 (Minn. 2008).

A prior administrative license revocation may be used as an aggravating factor to subject a vehicle to forfeiture pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 169A.63, subdivision 6, without violating due process when there was no hearing on a petition for judicial review (PJR) because of the petitioner’s voluntary decision to withdraw the PJR prior to the commencement of the forfeiture trial. Heino v. One 2003 Cadillac, 762 N.W.2d 257 (Minn. Ct. App. 2009).

The vehicle forfeiture statute (Minn. Stat. § 169A.63) is civil/regulatory and thus cannot be enforced by the state against Indian-owned vehicles for conduct occurring on the owner’s reservation. Morgan v. 2000 Volkswagen, 754 N.W.2d 587 (Minn. Ct. App. 2008).

The DWI forfeiture statute does not require that a driver be convicted of a designated offense; commission of a designated offense is sufficient for forfeiture. Mastakoski v. 2003 Dodge Durango, 738 N.W.2d 411 (Minn. Ct. App. 2007) (Appellant plead guilty to third-degree DWI and state dismissed charge of second-degree DWI that was undisputed appellant committed.)

An insurance-settlement payment representing the fair-market value of a destroyed vehicle qualifies as a proceed from a crime under Minnesota Statutes, section 609.5312. An insurance payment is subject to forfeiture where the destroyed vehicle is also subject to forfeiture. Schug, 669 N.W.2d 379 (Minn. Ct. App. 2003).

This post is part of a series of posts on Minnesota’s Forfeiture Laws