Austin woman gets stay of adjudication on drug charge in DWI case

A woman who had been accused of driving while impaired by drugs, felony drug charges and other offenses reportedly agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor DWI and felony drug possession charges in exchange for a probationary sentence that may allow her to avoid having the felony conviction entered onto her permanent criminal record.

Authorities in Mower County, Minnesota, claim that an officer ran the plates on a car last August and learned that a woman linked with the car did not have a valid license. The officer conducted a traffic stop, suspecting that an unlicensed driver was operating the car.

At some point during the investigatory stop, police apparently decided to search the car. Officials claim that an officer found less than a half-gram of methamphetamine in a cigarette pack. It is not clear from a media account in the Austin Daily Herald what the government based that search upon.

A passenger reportedly had fled from the car during the encounter, and he was later convicted of misdemeanor fleeing police. The woman denied ownership of the suspected meth. But, ultimately, authorities charged the woman with felony fifth-degree drug possession, DWI-drugs and other offenses.

She reportedly pled guilty to a DWI count and the felony drug charge and has been sentenced to five years’ probation. If the woman successfully completes that probation, the felony charge will be dismissed, according to the media account.

Generally, Minnesota law allows a person to seek what is called a stay of adjudication in a criminal case. Criminal defense lawyers may negotiate with prosecutors to include a stay of adjudication in a plea deal.

The stay essentially stops the proceedings just before a criminal conviction is entered. The court puts a hold on entering the judgment of guilt on the record, while placing a person on probation (other sentencing provisions may be involved in the process, including potential jail time).

However, if the person completes probation successfully, the charge is dismissed upon completion of probation. The process can allow a person to avoid having the felony placed on a permanent criminal record.

Source: Austin Daily Herald, “Unlicensed driver gets probation for drugs, DWI,” Matt Peterson, June 24, 2013

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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