A stay of adjudication in Minnesota is an excellent outcome in many cases. A stay of adjudication means there will be no conviction for the offense and the charge will ultimately be dismissed if the terms of the stay are met. This type of outcome still requires you to admit fault in the case by saying you are guilty, but the judge will not accept your guilty plea (i.e. stay adjudicating your case).
Some level of probation still accompanies a stay of adjudication. This can be informal, or unsupervised probation. Or, it can be formal supervised probation, which may require routine check-ins, random alcohol or drug testing, programmings, such as treatment or other educational classes. You can also bet on there being a condition of remaining law-abiding for the terms of the stay of adjudication. If any of the probationary terms are violated, then you run the risk of a probation violation. If a probation violation occurs while on probation for a stay of adjudication, the court may revoke the stay of adjudication and enter a conviction for the offense and impose additional penalties.
All levels of offenses in Minnesota receive a stay of adjudication. All the way from a petty misdemeanor traffic citation up to a felony criminal sexual conduct charge. Minnesota also has a mandatory stay of adjudication law for certain first-time drug offenders. For many fifth-degree controlled substance offenses, an offender may qualify for the mandatory stay of adjudication, also known as a 152.18, which references the statute number. There are criteria to qualify for a 152.18, such as not having any prior felonies, prior diversion program participation, or prior stays of adjudication under this law.
For those looking to keep a conviction from hitting their criminal background, stays of adjudication are incredibly important. Not only do you get an opportunity to have the charge against you dismissed, but you also put yourself in strong footing to obtain an expungement. One year after successfully completing the terms of a stay of adjudication, if you have not been charged with any new crimes, you will be eligible for a statutory expungement. What makes it a strong case for an expungement, is that the prosecution will have to demonstrate if they or any other party objects to the expungement, why you do not deserve to have an expungement. This is a different burden compared to cases where a person is convicted of an offense.
During plea negotiations, there are many outcomes available. Obtaining one that results in no conviction is often a win for our clients. These outcomes include a: stay of adjudication, continuance for dismissal, or diversion programs. Absent that, or the prosecution just being willing to dismiss your case outright, then you will have to litigate your case to obtain a dismissal through pre-trial contested hearings or argue for acquittal of all charges at a judge or jury trial if you are seeking a criminal background with no guilty findings on it.