This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).







State of Minnesota,


Michael John Riehm,



Filed February 12, 2002


Crippen, Judge


Chisago County District Court

File No. T6011771



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


Ted Alliegro, Chisago County Attorney, Christopher A. Anderson, Assistant County Attorney, 313 North Main Street, Room 373, Center City, MN 55015 (for respondent)


Michael J. Riehm, 941 Hillwind Road Northeast, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55432 (attorney pro se)


            Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Willis, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N



            In this appeal, we are asked again to decide whether Minn. R. Crim. P. 4.02, subd. 5(3), requiring the production of a formal complaint within 30 days after the defendant’s demand, applies to a petty misdemeanor tab charge.  Based on precedent, we reverse the trial court and order dismissal pursuant to the rule. 


On April 6, 2001, appellant Michael Riehm received a tab charge for speeding, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.14 (2000).  On April 18, appellant called the county courthouse to ask for a formal complaint but was informed that the county did not issue formal complaints for petty misdemeanors.  Appellant then sent a letter to the court administrator, stating his not-guilty plea and asking for a formal complaint.[1] 

Appellant never received a formal complaint but did receive a copy of the citation, the police report, and his driving record.  On May 23, appellant moved the trial court to dismiss his speeding citation pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 4.02, subd. 5(3).  The trial court denied appellant’s motion, and this appeal followed.


The interpretation of the rules of criminal procedure is a matter of law subject to de novo review.  State v. Nerz, 587 N.W.2d 23, 24-25 (Minn. 1998).  The procedure in a petty misdemeanor case is the same as the procedure for misdemeanors.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 23.05, subd. 3.  The accused in a misdemeanor case is entitled to a formal complaint within 30 days after demanding one.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 4.02, subd. 5(3). 

We defer to established precedent, State v. Loeffler, 626 N.W.2d 424 (Minn. App. 2001), and reverse the trial court’s ruling.[2]  In Loeffler, the appellant received a speeding ticket under Minn. Stat. § 169.14 (2000).  626 N.W.2d at 424.   At his arraignment, Loeffler requested a formal complaint, which the court denied.  Id.  Loeffler then wrote to the city attorney asking for discovery and a formal complaint.  Id. at 425.  The city attorney sent him discovery but no formal complaint.  Id.  At trial, the court denied Loeffler’s motion to dismiss pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 4.02, subd. 5(3), and found him guilty.  Id.  On appeal, the state argued that Loeffler suffered no prejudice by not receiving a formal complaint, but this court reversed.  Id. at 425-26. 

The rules of criminal procedure, however, provide that “[i]f no valid complaint has been made and filed within the time required * * * the defendant shall be discharged, the proposed complaint, if any, and any supporting papers shall not be filed, and no record shall be made of the proceedings.”  Minn. R. Crim. P. 4.02, subd. 5(3).  The rule does not require a defendant show prejudice. 




Respondent argues that Loeffler is distinguishable because here, appellant did not wait for his arraignment to request a complaint but sent a letter expressly pleading not guilty.  Respondent acknowledges that the 30-day deadline of rule 4.02, subd. 5(3), would have barred prosecution if appellant had “solely said he wanted a formal complaint.”  But in Loeffler, it is evident that the defendant both requested a formal complaint and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, preceding trial of his case.  626 N.W.2d at 424-25.  Loeffler directly supports appellant’s argument. 

Respondent contends that appellant waived his right to receive a formal complaint by pleading not guilty under Minn. R. Crim. P. 5.01,[3] contending that the rule does not permit appellant to simultaneously plead not guilty and request a formal complaint.[4]  Respondent furnishes no authority for construing the rule in that fashion.  Respondent alternatively argues that appellant invited error by requesting a formal complaint, waiting 30 days, and then moving to dismiss.  But Minn. R. Crim. P. 4.02, subd. 5(3), entitles a misdemeanor defendant to a formal complaint within 30 days after demanding one, and appellant made such a demand. 

Finally, the trial court observed that, although the formal-complaint requirement serves to inform defendants of charges that they might not otherwise understand, a mere speeding ticket does not merit strict adherence to the complaint requirement.  Loeffler leaves no room for a construction of Minn. R. Crim. P. 4.02, subd. 5(3), preventing its application to traffic offenses.

Following precedent, we reverse the trial court’s ruling and dismiss appellant’s conviction.  Without determining the application of Minn. R. Crim. P. 17.06, subd. 4(3),[5] to these proceedings, we observe that this court’s decision is final upon expiration of the time for submission of a petition for review to the supreme court or, if such petition occurs, upon denial of review.  See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 136.02 (providing that judgment shall be entered within 30 days after filing of decision unless stayed by petition for review). 




[1] Respondent has not asserted that appellant’s notice was flawed for having been communicated to the court and not to the prosecutor.  

[2] Because the parties did not brief the issue, we do not address the impact of a statute relating to the issue here and in LoefflerSee Minn. Stat. § 169.99, subd. 1 (2000) (providing that a “uniform traffic ticket shall be in the form and have the effect of a summons and complaint”).

[3] At arraignment, a judge should (1) advise the defendant of the charges; (2) determine whether the defendant is handicapped in communication; (3) provide the defendant with a copy of the complaint if he does not have one; and (4) advise the defendant of certain rights.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 5.01.  The judge shall advise the defendant that if “the offense is a misdemeanor, the defendant may either plead guilty or not guilty, or demand a complaint prior to entering a plea.”  Id.

[4] Appellant, however, asserts that he asked for a formal complaint before making the not-guilty plea but that the court administrator told him that it did not issue formal complaints for petty misdemeanors. 

[5]“If the dismissal is for failure to file a timely complaint as required by Rule 4.02, subd. 5(3), * * * further prosecution for the same offense shall not be barred * * * .”