Hubbard County District Court File No. 29-CR-17-1422
Ellison, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Jonathan
Frieden, Hubbard County Attorney, Adam J. Licari, Assistant
County Attorney, Park Rapids, Minnesota (for respondent)
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Michael
McLaughlin, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota
Considered and decided by Slieter, Presiding Judge;
Halbrooks, Judge; and Connolly, Judge.
criminal defendant pays a fine for an offense listed on the
Statewide Payables List established pursuant to Minn. R.
Crim. P. 23.03, subd. 2, in an amount that results in a
petty-misdemeanor conviction, that conviction may not be used
to enhance a subsequent offense to a gross misdemeanor by
operation of Minn. Stat. § 609.131, subd. 3 (2016).
matter comes before this court following a stipulated-facts
trial, which resulted in the district court adjudicating
appellant Neil Douglas Selseth guilty of a gross-misdemeanor
offense of operating a vehicle without insurance, in
violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.797, subds. 3, 4(a)
(2016). Selseth challenges the enhancement of his conviction
to a gross misdemeanor based upon two prior petty-misdemeanor
convictions, despite the penalty provision of Minn. Stat.
§ 169.797 (2016). Because Minn. Stat. § 609.131,
subd. 3, precludes using an offense that was originally
charged as a misdemeanor but was "treated as a petty
misdemeanor" to enhance a subsequent offense to a gross
misdemeanor, we reverse and remand.
December 12, 2017, the state charged Selseth with gross
misdemeanor operating a vehicle without insurance, in
violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.797, subds. 3, 4(a). The
state relied on Selseth's two prior petty-misdemeanor
convictions in 2014 and 2015 for no proof of insurance to
enhance the charged offense to a gross misdemeanor.
moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of probable cause
arguing that the state could not use his prior petty
misdemeanors to enhance the offense to a gross misdemeanor.
The state agreed that the prior convictions were deemed petty
misdemeanors but argued that Minn. Stat. § 609.13, subd.
3 (2016), rather than Minn. Stat. § 609.131 (2016) was
controlling and permitted enhancement. The district court
agreed with the state and denied Selseth's motion in a
written order, concluding that Selseth "had two
misdemeanor no insurance violations" and he paid the
requisite fines "within petty misdemeanor limits, but
for purposes of determining a subsequent offense they
state rely on prior petty-misdemeanor convictions to enhance