This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ' 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).



In the Matter of the Welfare of:

Kandiyohi County District Court
File No. J7-95-50525

Filed July 16, 1996
Toussaint, Chief Judge

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charlann Winking, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414(for appellant)

Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)

Boyd Beccue, Kandiyohi County Attorney, Nancy K. Grussing, Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney, 316 S.W. 4th Street, Willmar, MN 56201 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Holtan, Judge.*


TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

This appeal arises from a district court adjudicating N.R.R. delinquent of check forgery, in violation of Minn. Stat. ' 609.631, subd. 2(3) and subd. 4(3) (1994). N.R.R. appeals the district court's adjudication. We affirm.


In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, the appellate court must consider the record in the light most favorable to conviction and determine if the evidence was sufficient for the fact-finder to reach the verdict it did. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). The reviewing court does not retry the facts. State v. Pierson, 530 N.W.2d 784, 787 (Minn. 1995). It assumes that the evidence in the record supporting the conviction was believed by the trier of fact and contrary evidence disbelieved. State v. Pieschke, 295 N.W.2d 580, 584 (Minn. 1980). Credibility and weight determinations of the testimony of witnesses are not to be decided by appellate courts; these are the exclusive functions of the trier-of-fact. Dale v. State, 535 N.W.2d 619, 623 (Minn. 1995).

Therefore, if the fact-finder, "giving due regard to the presumption of innocence and to the state's burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could reasonably have found the defendant guilty, the verdict will not be disturbed." Pierson, 530 N.W.2d at 787 (citation omitted).

N.R.R. claims that the evidence offered at trial was insufficient to adjudicate him delinquent because of check forgery, in violation of Minn. Stat. ' 609.631, subd. 2(2), [1] because the prosecution failed to prove that he endorsed or altered the stolen check. N.R.R.'s argument is not supported by the record.

Sufficiency of the evidence can be proven circumstantially.

[A] conviction based on circumstantial evidence will be upheld and such evidence is entitled to as much weight as any other kind of evidence, so long as a detailed review of the record indicates that the reasonable inferences from such evidence are consistent only with the defendant's guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of guilt. Inconsistencies in the state's case or possibilities of innocence do not require reversal of a jury verdict so long as the evidence taken as a whole makes such theories seem unreasonable. Thus, to succeed in a challenge to a verdict based on circumstantial evidence, a convicted person must point to evidence in the record that is consistent with a rational theory other than guilt.

State v. Ostrem, 535 N.W.2d 916, 923 (Minn. 1995) (citations omitted).

A review of the record reveals that at trial, the state offered the following evidence of check forgery: (1) the victims' wallet was stolen; (2) N.R.R.'s wallet contained a check made out to the victim; (3) a witness testified that he saw the victim's driver's license, credit cards, and a check, in N.R.R.'s billfold; (4) the check was endorsed and cashed at the Cashwise Foods store in Willmar with the victim's identification; and (5) N.R.R. and his friends were at the Cashwise Foods store that afternoon. From this evidence, the district court could reasonably infer that N.R.R. falsely endorsed and cashed the victim's check.

N.R.R. attempted to introduce a rational theory other than guilt by claiming that the state failed to show that he forged the victim's signature. No handwriting expert testified at trial that N.R.R.'s handwriting was on the check. Additionally, neither the Cashwise Foods store cashier, nor any other store employee could identify N.R.R. as the person who endorsed the check. However, these allegations are insufficient to counteract the rational theory of guilt.

All reasonable inferences indicate that N.R.R. forged the victim's signature on the check. N.R.R. had possession of the victim's check, a witness saw him with the check, and N.R.R. admits that he was at the store that received the forged check. The evidence is consistent with a rational theory of guilt, therefore, the evidence is sufficient as a matter of law. There was sufficient evidence supporting the district court's adjudication of N.R.R. as delinquent because of check forgery.



* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, ' 10.

[1]Minn. Stat. ' 609.631, subd. 2(2) reads: Subd.2. Check forgery; elements. A person is guilty of check forgery ** * if the person, with intent to defraud, does any of the following: (2) falsely endorses or alters a check so that it purports to have been endorsed by another.