Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-12-844
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)
Paul D. Baertschi, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Cleary, Judge; and Smith, Judge.
A person may be found to have committed aggravated forgery and satisfy the "intent to defraud" requirement of Minn. Stat. § 609.625, subd. 1 (2010), when the person signs a document under an assumed name or the name of another and the document creates, terminates, transfers, or evidences genuine, legal rights, privileges, or obligations.
Appellant challenges her conviction for aggravated forgery on the basis that she did not act with "intent to defraud" within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 609.625, subd. 1. Appellant claims that by misidentifying herself and signing her sister's name to a continuance for dismissal agreement and payment plan in order to resolve a speeding ticket, she did not intend to deprive or harm the property rights of another, but merely intended to avoid prosecution for the gross misdemeanor charge of driving with a license cancelled as inimical to public safety. Because one may act with "intent to defraud" by signing an assumed name or the name of another on a legal document that creates, terminates, transfers, or evidences genuine legal rights, and because the statute does not limit this requisite intent to signing a document normally relied upon as evidence of debt or property rights, we affirm.
On October 22, 2011, after a traffic stop in Ramsey County, appellant Carissa Jean Elizabeth Stahosky, whose driver's license had been cancelled as "inimical to public safety" under Minn. Stat. § 171.04, subd. 1(10) (2010), misidentified herself by using the name of her sister. As a result, a speeding citation was issued in the name of appellant's sister rather than appellant. On November 16, 2011, at an administrative hearing at a Ramsey County courthouse, appellant again misidentified herself as her sister, signed a continuance for dismissal and payment agreement with her sister's name, and paid the fine in order to resolve the speeding citation. By doing so, she avoided the issuance of a speeding citation in her own name and a charge for driving after her license was cancelled as inimical to public safety, a gross misdemeanor under Minn. Stat. § 171.24, subd. 5 (2010).
After appellant's sister informed law enforcement of appellant's actions, appellant was charged with aggravated forgery based on her signing of the continuance for dismissal and payment agreement with the name of her sister in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.625, subd. 1(1). At trial, appellant waived her right to a jury and the parties stipulated to the facts underlying the charge.
The parties agreed that (1) appellant received a speeding citation on October 22 in Ramsey County; (2) appellant was driving the vehicle that was stopped; (3) appellant misidentified herself as her sister during the investigatory stop; (4) appellant's driver's license had been cancelled prior to October 22; (5) appellant avoided being charged with the gross misdemeanor charge set forth in section 171.24, subdivision 5, by identifying herself as her sister; (6) appellant's sister learned that appellant used her name after receiving the speeding citation, and appellant admitted to her sister that she had done so; (7) appellant met with a hearing officer on November 16 and identified herself as her sister; (8) appellant signed a continuance for dismissal and payment agreement using her sister's name, and, by doing so, avoided receiving a speeding ticket in her own name and also being charged pursuant to section 171.24, subdivision 5; and (9) appellant paid the $241 fee imposed on the speeding citation shortly after the hearing.
Based upon these facts, the district court found appellant guilty of aggravated forgery. Appellant received a stay of imposition of sentence, three years of supervised probation, and ...