This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


State of Minnesota,


Hillary Ann Dahlen,

Filed February 15, 2000
Reversed and remanded
Willis, Judge

Kandiyohi County District Court
File No. K6-99-434

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and

Boyd Beccue, Kandiyohi County Attorney, Jeffery S. Thompson, Assistant County Attorney, Tracy L. Perzel, Assistant County Attorney, 316 Southwest Fourth Street, P.O. Box 1126, Willmar, MN 56201 (for appellant)

Thomas G. Johnson, Todd M. Kleinhuizen, Crown Center, 707 Litchfield Avenue S.W., Suite 100, P.O. Box 913, Willmar, MN 56201 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


The state appeals the district courtís decision to stay respondentís adjudication for furnishing alcohol to an individual under 21 years of age, arguing that respondentís misreading of a customerís date of birth on his driverís license did not constitute "special circumstances" warranting a stay of adjudication.[1] We reverse and remand.


Respondent Hillary Ann Dahlen was charged with one count of furnishing alcohol to an individual under 21 years of age, in violation of Minn. Stat. ß 340A.503, subd. 2(1) (1998), following a compliance check by police of all on-sale liquor establishments in Willmar. During the compliance check, two temporary police-department employees entered Edinbaryís Restaurant and Lounge and ordered beer. Dahlen, a waitress, asked for their identification, examined their licenses, then served beer to both, one of whom was under the age of 21.

At the plea hearing, the district court elicited from Dahlen a factual basis for her guilty plea. The court then stayed Dahlenís adjudication over the stateís objection but made no oral or written findings to support the stay. The state appeals.


The state argues that the district court exceeded its authority by staying Dahlenís adjudication without a showing of "special circumstances."

The supreme court has concluded that a decision to stay adjudication of a criminal charge is within the "inherent judicial power" of the district court if "special circumstances" exist warranting this "unusual judicial measure[]." State v. Krotzer, 548 N.W.2d 252, 254-55 (Minn. 1996) (holding that special circumstances warranted stay of adjudication for 19-year-old defendant charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, requiring registration as predatory sex offender, for consensual sex with 14-year-old girlfriend). The supreme court later limited the scope of this inherent power:

It was not our intention that mere disagreement by the trial court with the prosecutorís exercise of the charging discretion would constitute "special circumstances." Rather, it was our intention that the inherent judicial authority recognized in that case be relied upon sparingly and only for the purpose of avoiding an injustice resulting from the prosecutorís clear abuse of discretion in the exercise of the charging function.

State v. Foss, 556 N.W.2d 540, 541 (Minn. 1996).

Dahlen does not allege that the state abused its discretion in charging her. She argues that the following facts nevertheless present the "special circumstances" required to justify a stay of adjudication under Krotzer: (1) the offense occurred during a "sting" operation; (2) she was unfamiliar with the format of the "under-21" Minnesota driverís license because she had never been issued a driverís license in this state; (3) she had not been trained in making determinations of legal age; (4) this is essentially a strict-liability offense requiring no proof of intent to violate the statute; and (5) she did what the law required her to do but, by oversight, misread the identification provided. But while mitigating circumstances may justify lenient sentencing, they do not constitute "special circumstances" for the purpose of staying adjudication. State v. Thoma, 569 N.W.2d 205, 208-09 (Minn. App. 1997).

We conclude that the district court erred in staying Dahlenís adjudication.

Reversed and remanded.

[1] The state also argues that a district court may stay adjudication of guilt only if the parties agree to such a resolution. See Minn. Stat. ß 609.095(b) (stating that absent agreement of the parties courts may not refuse to adjudicate the guilt of a defendant who tenders a guilty plea). Because application of the statute was not raised before the district court and the statute is not necessary to our resolution of this case, we will not consider the state's argument. See State v. Sorenson, 441 N.W.2d 455, 457 (Minn. 1989) (stating that this court will generally not consider issues raised for the first time on appeal).