This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).







State of Minnesota,





Jean Marie Schulz,

a/k/a Jean Marie Reimer,



Filed March 28, 2006


Hudson, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. 04024237


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101; and


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas A. Weist, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55487 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lydia Villalva Lijó, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant challenges her enhanced conviction for offering a forged check, arguing that evidence that appellant presented a cashier’s check purchased by another and presented it for payment to her neighborhood bar, then promptly reimbursed the bar after the check was questioned, was insufficient to prove that she presented the check with intent to defraud.  Because we conclude that the jury reasonably could have found that appellant offered the check with intent to defraud, we affirm.



            The state charged appellant Jean Schulz with check forgery, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.631, subds. 2(1), 4(3)(b) (2002), and offering a forged check, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.631, subds. 3, 4(3)(b) (2002), based on her actions in offering an altered cashier’s check for payment at the St. Boni Inn, a bar in St. Bonifacius.  At trial, the bartender testified that Schulz, a regular bar patron, presented the check to him for cashing.  The check for $168 was issued by TCF Bank, but had both the identity of the payee and the memo line blotted out.  When the bartender asked Schulz to endorse the check, he saw her begin to sign it but did not watch as she finished writing.  He did not examine the endorsement but cashed the check because he knew Schulz and “it looked like an official check.”  

            The bar manager testified that, the next day, her father, who owned the bar, expressed concern about the check.  The manager noticed the check had been altered by erasure of the “pay to the order” line, with “St. Boni Inn” written over the erasure.  The memo line also had been erased.  The manager determined that Schulz had cashed the check and noticed that the endorsed name on the back of the check did not appear to be Schulz’s.  A few days later, when Schulz came into the bar, the manager confronted Schulz and stated that she would “give [Schulz] five minutes” to find a way to pay the check.  Schulz then returned with a valid check from her mother.  The bar manager reported the incident to police. 

            The purchaser of the cashier’s check, traced by the check number, testified that she had bought the check, payable to her car insurance company, to pay for insurance.  When the insurance policy was cancelled, the agency returned the check to her post office box in St. Bonifacius, but she never received it.

            Schulz acknowledged in her statement to police that she cashed the check.  Schulz first stated that she was cashing the check for a friend, but then she stated that she had found it on the street.  Schulz denied endorsing the check. 

            During deliberations, the jury sent a note to the district court requesting further instructions on whether, if a person found a cashier’s check, and then went to the payee and cashed the check, intent to defraud would exist.  The district court informed the jury that additional instructions would not be given.  About an hour later, the jury reached a verdict, acquitting appellant of forgery but convicting her of offering a forged check.  The district court imposed a stayed sentence of one year and one day, with electronic home monitoring.  This appeal follows. 



            In a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court carefully reviews the record to determine whether the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient for the jury to reach a guilty verdict based on the record and inferences drawn from the record.  State v. Robinson, 604 N.W.2d 355, 365–66 (Minn. 2000).  Recognizing that the jury is in the best position to judge witness credibility, this court assumes that the jury believed the witnesses’ testimony supporting the verdict and disbelieved contradicting evidence.  State v. Henderson, 620 N.W.2d 688, 705 (Minn. 2001); see also State v. Doppler, 590 N.W.2d 627, 635 (Minn. 1999) (“Deciding the credibility of witnesses is generally the exclusive province of the jury.”).  Circumstantial evidence is entitled to the same weight as other kinds of evidence.  State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).  But to sustain a conviction based entirely on circumstantial evidence, the evidence as a whole must be consistent only with the defendant’s guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis other than guilt.  Robinson, 604 N.W.2d at 366. 

            A conviction for offering a forged check requires that a person “with intent to defraud, offers, or possesses with intent to offer, a forged check, whether or not it is accepted.”  Minn. Stat. § 609.631, subd. 3 (2002).  Appellant does not contest that she offered the check to the St. Boni Inn.  But she argues that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she offered the check with an intent to defraud because: (a) the bartender did not actually see her sign the check; (b) when told the check was not valid, she promptly reimbursed the bar; and (c) during deliberations, the jury questioned whether her actions constituted an intent to defraud.    

            Intent is an inference drawn by the jury from the totality of the circumstances, State v. Marsyla, 269 N.W.2d 2, 5 (Minn. 1978), and is generally proved circumstantially “by inference from words and acts of the actor both before and after the incident.”  State v. Johnson, 616 N.W.2d 720, 726 (Minn. 2000).  The stricter standard for circumstantial evidence recognizes that the jury remains in the best position to evaluate the evidence surrounding the crime.  State v. Olhausen, 681 N.W.2d 21, 26 (Minn. 2004). 

            We conclude that, based on the evidence presented, the totality of the circumstances supports the reasonable inference that appellant presented the check with intent to defraud.  The check’s altered appearance on its face, including large erasures that nearly made a hole in the check, would allow the jury to infer that appellant knew the check had been altered and intended to defraud the bar by offering it.  See State v. Slaughter, 691 N.W.2d 70, 77 (Minn. 2005) (observing that circumstantial evidence supported reasonable inference of intent).  Although appellant indicated to police that she did not sign the check, the jury was entitled to find credible the bartender’s testimony that she appeared to be signing the check.  See State v. Bolstad, 686 N.W.2d 531, 539 (Minn. 2004) (stating that it is province of jury to determine credibility and weight of circumstantial evidence).  And the jury could consider appellant’s providing a valid replacement check in light of the bar manager’s testimony that appellant did not replace the check until the manager angrily confronted her.  The evidence shows that when confronted about the check, appellant asked no questions, but merely left briefly and came back with a valid check from her mother, allowing the reasonable inference that she knew the check was altered.   

            Finally, we reject appellant’s contention that the question posed to the district court during deliberations shows that the jury entered its verdict despite reasonable doubt.  See State v. Thomas, 467 N.W.2d 324, 327 (Minn. App. 1991) (stating that “a jury question alone does not show the jury failed to perform its legal duty or that any juror joined the verdict despite reasonable doubt”). The record contains evidence that is consistent with appellant’s guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis other than guilt, and we affirm.