This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,


Ashley Marie Trageser,


Filed May 23, 2006

Reversed and remanded

Stoneburner, Judge


Clay County District Court

File No. T9057579


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and


Lisa N. Borgen, Clay County Attorney, Pamela Harris, Assistant County Attorney, 807 North 11th Street, Box 280, Moorhead, MN 56561-0280 (for appellant)


Ashley Marie Trageser, 3038 32nd Street South, Fargo, ND 58103 (pro se respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Suite 425, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Willis, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N




On appeal from a district court order staying adjudication of respondent’s guilty plea to fifth-degree domestic assault in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.2242 (2004), the state argues that the district court erred by staying adjudication without finding that the prosecution abused its charging discretion.  We reverse and remand.



            Following an altercation with her boyfriend that resulted in her arrest, respondent, Ashley Marie Trageser, entered a guilty plea to one count of fifth-degree domestic assault (a misdemeanor) in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.2242 (2004), and a presentencing investigation (PSI) was ordered.  The corrections officer who prepared the PSI cited concerns about the possible effect of the record of this offense on Trageser’s future career options and recommended that the district court impose a “stay of imposition” for six months with conditions in order to avoid a conviction of the offense on Trageser’s record.

At the sentencing hearing, the court stated that the corrections officer was referring to “a stay of adjudication, I would assume,” in order that the disposition would result in Trageser not having an offense on her record.  The prosecutor objected to a stay of adjudication, stating that “we would be treating her differently based upon who she is as opposed to . . . the facts here,” and suggested that the court impose a stayed 90-day jail sentence, a $300 fine, and a recommended anger-management seminar.

            The court then questioned Trageser about her relationship with the victim, her college major, her age, and her plans for the future regarding employment.  The court noted that it is “very rare” for a court to stay adjudication, but that a stay of adjudication is what it intended to impose “in light of the fact that you [Trageser] don’t have any prior significant criminal record and in light of the fact that there would be a disproportionate penalty that you might pay in the future in future education or employment if you have a domestic abuse conviction.”  The court then vacated its prior adjudication of guilt, stayed adjudication of guilt, and placed Trageser on probation for six months with the conditions that Trageser not contact the victim, complete an anger-management course, pay a fine, and not have any further law violations.  This appeal followed.



A stay of adjudication is an exercise of “inherent judicial authority” that must be used sparingly so as to avoid interference with the separation of powers.  State v. Foss, 556 N.W.2d 540, 541 (Minn. 1996).  A district court may not impose a stay of adjudication in a criminal case unless the court has made a finding that there are “special circumstances” demonstrating a clear abuse of prosecutorial discretion in charging. 540-41; State v. Colby, 657 N.W.2d 897, 898 (Minn. App. 2003).

Potential collateral consequences of a conviction are not a “special circumstance” warranting judicial interference with the prosecutor’s charging discretion.  See, e.g. State v. Twiss, 570 N.W.2d 487, 487 (Minn. 1997) (holding that the “possibility that a defendant may lose her job . . . as a result of a conviction . . . is not a ‘special circumstance’” but rather is “the sort of consequence that commonly attends a conviction of a serious offense.”); Colby, 657 N.W.2d at 899 (holding that the possibility a conviction would thwart defendant’s stated desire to attend nursing school would not justify a stay of adjudication); see also State v. Ohrt, 619 N.W.2d 790, 792 (Minn. App. 2000) (stating that collateral consequences of a conviction do not constitute “special circumstances”).

In this case, the district court imposed a stay of adjudication without finding that there had been a clear abuse of discretion in charging.  The court based its decision on its stated concerns about Trageser’s future employment prospects and lack of a criminal record.  These are not the “special circumstances” that must be found before a court may interfere with the prosecutor’s charging discretion.  Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.  See Twiss, 570 N.W.2d at 487.

            Reversed and remanded.