Acquittals, Convictions and Everything In Between: Understand What the Disposition of Your Case Means for You

Understanding the outcome of your case is very important because of the lasting impacts that it can have on your life.  Below we will discuss the terminology associated with the various case dispositions, as well as, the consequences that they will have on your criminal record and your life moving forward. The collateral consequences of your case includes your gun rights, sex offender registration, loss of professional licensing and bars to employment, housing, education, and ability to receive public benefits.


You have been found guilty of the charged offenses against you.  Convictions will be on your criminal record when any employer, housing agent, licensing agency, or anyone else runs a criminal background check on you.  Once you are convicted there are several sentences that you may receive:

  • Executed Sentence:

    You are sentenced to jail/prison time. The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines will provide a range for your offense based upon the severity of the offense and your prior criminal history. You will typically be sentenced to prison for some period of time within the Guidelines range. Your sentence is at the judge’s discretion after he/she reviews your specific circumstances.

  • Stay of Execution: 

    This outcome is better than an executed sentence, but the full conviction will still remain on your criminal record. In this instance the judge will announce a prison/jail sentence, “stay” the sentence and place you on probation with conditions. Typical conditions may include: no alcohol or drug use, treatment programs, electronic monitoring, local jail time, etc. If you violate any of your specific conditions the judge can revoke your “stay” and order to serve the original full prison sentence.

  • Stay of Imposition: 

    You will plead guilty to a felony level offense. But, if you successfully complete probation, the conviction will be deemed a misdemeanor. What this means is that while you are on probation, a criminal records search will indicate that you were convicted of a felony. Once you successfully complete probation, the conviction will be converted to a misdemeanor. Your probation may still include conditions and any violation of those condition can result in your stay being “revoked.” Meaning you will be sentenced for the original felony-level offense.

  • Stay of Adjudication:

    You plead guilty to a felony-level offense, but the Judge does not “accept” your plea of guilty. What this means is that a conviction for a felony is not entered on your criminal record, provided you successfully complete probation and all conditions that go along with it. Once you successfully complete probation, the charges are dismissed, and your criminal record is clear of any convictions. Your arrest records will still show that you were arrested for a felony. Your arrest record can be cleared through the Expungement process later.

Continuance for Dismissal:

This is the best outcome aside from a dismissal or acquittal.  It is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor.  The prosecutor agrees to continue the case (usually for a year) and the defendant agrees to certain terms (stay law-abiding).  You do not enter a plea and if you follow the terms of the agreement for the continuance period then the prosecutor will dismiss all charges.  If you do not follow the terms then the prosecutor will charge the case like the agreement never happened.

Importantly, a dismissal of the charges after the continuance period means that the case has been “resolved in the defendant’s favor” and you will be entitled to pursue an Expungement to completely clear your record.  This is a separate proceeding altogether.


Generally, these are state run programs that “divert” the defendant out of the courts and into a program focusing on counseling and treatment, rather than punishment.  These programs are usually available to low-level, first-time offenders of non-violent crimes.  Successful completion of the program means that the charges against you are dismissed.  Failure to complete to program results in the charges continuing through the court process.

The attorneys at Sieben & Cotter, PLLC are knowledgeable of the criminal justice system and have a strong reputation within the Minnesota court system.  They will work hard to achieve a favorable result for your case.  Here is a sample of some case results so far this year:

W.F. – 1st Degree Criminal Damage to Property – Dakota County – Diversion
J.T. – Prohibited Item at Airport – Hennepin County – Stay of Adjudication
K.T. – Misdemeanor Theft – Dakota County – Diversion
J.S. – Domestic Assault Amended to Disorderly Conduct – Ramsey County – Stay of Adjudication
J.S. – Felony Bribery – Ramsey County – Diversion
J.H. – Felony Burglary and Theft – Burnette County, WI – Suspend Prosecution
D.T. – 5th Degree Assault Amended to Disorderly Conduct – Dakota County – Stay of Adjudication


A legal judgment, based on the decision of a jury or judge, that the defendant’s guilt was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  Meaning you were found “not guilty.”


A decision by a prosecutor or judge to end a case for legal reasons.  This is usually accomplished before trial.  A good defense attorney will challenge the State’s evidence against you, improper criminal procedures, and/or violation of your constitutional rights.  If the judge or prosecutor agree then this can result in a dismissal of the charges against you.

With the right criminal defense attorney, you may be able to receive a disposition that will not severely impact the rest of your life.  If you face criminal charges, you must get the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.  We provide criminal defense representation in cases involving violent crimes, criminal sexual conduct, drug crimes, domestic abuse, white collar crimes and similar serious offenses, with excellent case results.

Patrick Cotter, Case Results             Tom Sieben, Case Results

Call Sieben & Cotter at 651-455-1555 to arrange your free and comprehensive consultation, or send a request for more information.