This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,


Daniel Ray Wiganowsky,


Filed July 18, 2006


Minge, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. 04080028



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


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas A. Weist, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Jodie L. Carlson, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue S.E., Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Minge, Judge.



U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N

MINGE, Judge

Appellant challenges his conviction on the basis that his trial on stipulated facts was tantamount to a guilty plea, and challenges a condition of his probation that prohibits him from entering Hennepin County.  Because the trial on stipulated facts was proper and appellant accepted the travel limit, we affirm. 


            On December 5, 2004, police were called to an address in Minneapolis based on information that a vehicle had been circling the block for an hour and a half.  After officers caught up with the vehicle, appellant Daniel Ray Wiganowsky jumped out.  Inside the vehicle, officers found .2 grams of cocaine, a hunting knife, and a hatchet.  Appellant was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.025, subd. 2(1) (2004). 

            Appellant was represented by counsel.  He stipulated to the facts set forth in the complaint.  Appellant filed a written waiver of his rights and confirmed this waiver in open court.  The district court considered the case on this record and found appellant guilty.  The district court sentenced appellant to one year and one day in custody, but stayed execution of the sentence and placed appellant on immediate administrative probation.  Appellant, a resident of Wisconsin, was also restricted from visiting Hennepin County except for his appointments at the VA Medical Center.  Appellant asked if he should contact probation whenever he comes to Hennepin County for medical appointments, and the district court added this contact requirement as a condition of appellant’s probation.  This appeal follows.



            The first issue is whether appellant’s trial on stipulated facts was valid.  Interpretation of the rules of criminal procedure is a question of law, reviewed de novo.  State v. Halseth, 653 N.W.2d 782, 784 (Minn. App. 2002).  The rule at issue in this case, Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, is strictly construed.  Id.   

            A defendant can waive his right to a jury trial if he “does so personally in writing or orally upon the record in open court, after being advised by the court of the right to trial by jury and after having had an opportunity to consult with counsel.”  Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 1(2)(a).  A case may be tried based on stipulated facts by agreement of the defendant and the state if a defendant on the record, orally or in writing, acknowledges and waives his rights “to testify at trial, to have the prosecution witnesses testify in open court in the defendant’s presence, to question those prosecution witnesses, and to require any favorable witnesses to testify for the defense in court.”  Id., subd. 3.  The trial then proceeds like any other trial to the court.  Id.  A defendant found guilty based on stipulated facts may appeal from the conviction “and raise issues on appeal the same as from any trial to the court.”  Id.  Trials by stipulated fact are often used to preserve a defendant’s right to appeal pretrial rulings when the facts supporting the conviction are not in dispute.  See State v. Lothenbach, 296 N.W.2d 854, 857-58 (Minn. 1980).    

Here, appellant was represented by counsel and submitted a written waiver of the rights described in Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01.  The district court also confirmed appellant’s waiver of these rights at the hearing.  Thus, appellant validly waived his rights to contest facts at trial and consented to a trial on stipulated facts. 

Appellant argues that the trial was improper because the stipulation to facts was really a “disguised” guilty plea.  Although there may be some similarity between the two, an agreement to a stipulated-facts trial is not the functional equivalent of a guilty plea.  Significantly, there is no guilty plea in the stipulation.  See State v. Johnson, 689 N.W.2d 247, 253 (Minn. App. 2004) (holding that appellant could not withdraw his agreement to a stipulated-facts trial when the district court refused to abide by the parties’ sentencing agreement because consent to a stipulated-facts trial is not the same as a guilty plea), review denied (Minn. Jan. 20, 2005).  Further, Minnesota courts have cautioned against confusing the two procedures.  Halseth, 653 N.W.2d at 786 n.2 (citing State v. Verschelde, 595 N.W.2d 192, 194-95 (Minn. 1999)).

Here, appellant points to the fact that he acknowledged in court that the district court would likely find him guilty, and that he started to characterize the stipulated-facts trial as a “fancy way of pleading guilty,” but stopped speaking before he finished the phrase.  These facts establish that appellant knew that the district court would likely convict him.  However, from the record, appellant’s motive for proceeding in this way is unclear.  Appellant may have intended a Lothenbach plea.  Although his attorney stated at the hearing that appellant intended to appeal the conviction, the basis of such an appeal is unclear because there were no pretrial rulings in this case.  Appellant’s attorney pointed this out to appellant at the hearing, when he asked appellant to confirm that the attorney had told him that any appeal would likely be a waste of time.  But ultimately appellant did not explicitly concede guilt, and neither the procedure followed nor the facts admitted violate the requirements for a stipulated-facts trial under Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 3.  Further, appellant does not explain how he was prejudiced by the proceeding. 

Appellant also argues that his trial was effectively a guilty plea because the district court did not deliberate before convicting appellant.  But extended deliberation was not necessary here where the stipulated facts were limited.  In addition, appellant challenges the district court’s failure to make written findings of the facts supporting its finding of appellant’s guilt, as required by Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 2.  Appellant admits that this failure was only a “technical omission.”  See State v. Thomas, 467 N.W.2d 324, 326-27 (Minn. App. 1991) (holding that failure to make written findings is not a basis for reversal of a conviction where appellant was not prejudiced by such failure, and where evidence was sufficient to support conviction).  But appellant argues that the failure to make written findings is further evidence that the trial was a “sham.”  The district court made oral findings on the record of the facts supporting the conviction.  Although written findings would add another level of formality, their absence does not transform the character of the proceedings into a guilty plea.  Appellant’s stipulated-facts trial was valid.


            The second issue is whether the district court abused its discretion in requiring appellant, as a condition of his probation, not to enter Hennepin County other than for medical appointments.  We review a sentence imposed or stayed by the district court for abuse of discretion.  State v. Franklin, 604 N.W.2d 79, 82 (Minn. 2000).  When a condition of probation restricts fundamental rights, the district court’s discretion is “reviewed carefully.”  State v. Friberg, 435 N.W.2d 509, 516 (Minn. 1989). 

            Probation conditions “must be reasonably related to the purposes of sentencing and must not be unduly restrictive of the probationer’s liberty or autonomy.”  Id. at 515. Geographical limitations are acceptable conditions of probation, so long as they meet this standard.  Franklin, 604 N.W.2d at 82.  Part of this analysis includes considering the following factors:

1) the purpose sought to be served by probation;

2) the extent to which constitutional rights enjoyed by law-abiding citizens should be accorded to probationers; and

3) the legitimate needs of law enforcement.


Friberg, 435 N.W.2d at 516.  The purposes of probation include rehabilitating the offender and protecting public safety.  Franklin, 604 N.W.2d at 84. 

            The appellant in Franklinchallenged the condition of her probation requiring her not to enter Minneapolis, with certain exceptions.  Id. at 81.  Franklin had been arrested for trespassing at an apartment complex in Minneapolis, and then assaulted the arresting officer at the complex.  Id. at 80.  Franklin’s mother and child lived at the complex, Franklin lived in St. Paul with her sister, and Franklin testified that her sister would soon move, most likely to MinneapolisId. at 80-81. 

            The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the probation condition, holding that it was not reasonably related to the goals of the sentence.  Id. at 83.  The supreme court noted that the only “problem site” for Franklin’s criminal behavior was the Minneapolis apartment complex where the offense occurred.  Id.  Franklin’s exclusion from the entire city of Minneapolis would not necessarily serve the purpose of maintaining distance between her and the complex because the complex was located very near the southern border of the 58-square-mile city.  Id. at 83.  The supreme court acknowledged the state’s arguments that the exclusion from the broader area reflected the district court’s concern for the safety of the officer, but concluded that it was unclear that the condition was reasonably related to the officer’s safety because the district court did not discuss whether it considered this factor.  Id. at 84.

            Here, appellant was arrested based on suspicious activity in a certain block in Minneapolis, but as a condition of his probation was excluded from all of Hennepin County other than for medical appointments.  It is not clear from the record what specific site or situation was the object of appellant’s troublesome behavior.  The district court did not identify a specific reason for excluding appellant from all of Hennepin County.  Appellant lives in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.  The probation condition appears to have been designed to prohibit appellant from entering areas that may provide temptations to reoffend.  The limit was tailored to allow appellant to meet his medical needs through visits to the VA facility in Minneapolis.  Appellant presented no other reason he needed to enter Hennepin County, and presumably may still request permission from probation to visit Hennepin County for appropriate reasons.  Most importantly, appellant was apparently aware of the district court’s intended probation condition before he agreed to a stipulated-facts trial, appellant did not object to the probation condition at hearing, and appellant volunteered to inform the probation office when he planned to come to the VA facility for medial appointments.  Thus, the district court’s restriction on appellant’s travel to Hennepin County was not a contested matter. 

            We note that the district court is generally required to provide reasons for geographic restrictions and explain how they are related to the purposes of the defendant’s probation.  Franklin, 604 N.W.2d at 83.  The absence of such explanation makes review difficult.  Id.  Without the compelling circumstances here, the lack of an explanation by the district court of the relatively broad exclusion in this case would require that we reverse and remand this part of the sentence.  But because appellant agreed to the limitation and has not argued any prejudice, and because the district court has not had an opportunity to address or consider the issue, we conclude that appellant waived his right to raise this issue on appeal.  See Roby v. State, 547 N.W.2d 354, 357 (Minn. 1996).