This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


In Re the Matter of the Welfare of:


Filed December 28, 1999
Crippen, Judge

Ramsey County District Court
File No. J598556108

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

Mike Hatch, Minnesota Attorney General, Suite 300, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and

Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Kim Bingham, Assistant County Attorney, Suite 315, 50 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Short, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to justify the trial court's finding that appellant passed a forged instrument.[1] We affirm.


In May 1998, in exchange for a $20 bill, appellant received currency from a secretary at his high school. The secretary thought the bill seemed different from other currency. She showed the bill to an associate principal, and the police were called. After an investigation, the police determined the existence of numerous counterfeit bills produced and circulated by a group of students at the school.


On a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court inquires only as to "whether, on facts in the record and legitimate inferences drawn therefrom, a jury could reasonably conclude that the defendant was guilty." State v. Ashby, 567 N.W.2d 21, 27 (Minn. 1997). On review, this court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution and assumes that the fact-finder believed the state's witnesses and disbelieved any contrary evidence. Ashby, 567 N.W.2d at 27 (quoting State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988)). "The trial court's findings are entitled to the same review as a jury verdict." State v. Wiley, 348 N.W.2d 86, 91 (Minn. App. 1984) (citation omitted), affirmed by 366 N.W.2d 265 (Minn. 1985).

If a conviction depends on circumstantial evidence, the verdict will be sustained on appeal if the reasonable inferences from such evidence are consistent only with the defendant's guilt and are inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of guilt. State v. Scharmer, 501 N.W.2d 620, 622 (Minn. 1993). The evidence "as a whole need not exclude all possibility that the defendant is innocent; it must only make such a theory seem unreasonable." State v. Doughman, 404 N.W.2d 867, 870 (Minn. App. 1987) (citing State v. Anderson, 379 N.W.2d 70, 78 (Minn. 1985)), review denied (Minn. June 26, 1987).

Appellant's dispute is confined to the technical question of whether the prosecutor successfully proved that the bills submitted into evidence included the bill appellant passed to the school secretary. If not, appellant suggests, the state failed to prove that the bill he passed was a counterfeit. We are satisfied that the evidence is sufficient to permit the trial court's determination.

The record establishes that bills collected by school officials were counterfeit. Although the evidence does not directly identify the bill passed by appellant, police testified that the collection of counterfeit bills included a number that were delivered to them by a supervisor to whom the school secretary gave appellant's bill. The significance of this evidence is enlarged by the testimony of the school secretary, who directly addressed the characteristics of the bill appellant passed. This witness testified that appellant passed a suspect bill, one that "seemed funny," felt too smooth, was discolored, had crooked margins, had a different printed space on the front and back, and was noticeably different from other bills of the same denomination that she found in the school safe. In addition, circumstantial evidence of appellant's conduct before encountering the school secretary leaves no doubt that he knowingly possessed a counterfeit bill and that he and another student developed a plan to exchange the bill for lawful currency.

The evidence just summarized, some of it circumstantial, is sufficient to render unreasonable any theory that appellant used lawful currency in his transaction with the school secretary. Viewing this evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, as we are required to do, it was sufficient to sustain the trial court's finding.


[1] In spite of its finding, the trial court ordered adjudication be "withheld" and the court continued the proceeding in all respects as provided under Minn. Stat. § 260.185, subd. 3 (1998). We conclude that an order for continuance under Minn. Stat. § 260.185, subd. 3, is an appealable, final order to which references are made in Minn. R. Juv. P. 21.03, subd. 1(A)(2). We also have inquired of the parties whether the proceedings are moot because of the substantial discharge of appellant from the trial court's jurisdiction. Under Minn. Stat. § 260.185, subd. 3, the court is expected to act upon due proof of alleged wrongdoing but nevertheless "before a finding of delinquency has been entered." Because the trial court in this case has done more, entering a finding of fact that the charge was sustained - tantamount to a finding of delinquency, we decline to find it moot.