Thursday, September 29, 2011

Minnesota Theft Charges (Explained)

Being charged with Shoplifting or a Theft crime can be a real wake up call. You may have made a big mistake or had a lapse in judgement that you seriously regret.  Or you may be completely innocent! Cases of mistaken intentions happen all the time. Either way, you have to know your rights and - if warranted - fight the criminal court system now, and an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney can help.

Under Minnesota law, Theft offenses are quite varied. You can be charged with a crime if you walk out of a store forgetting to pay for your purchase and/or if you do con someone out of of a personal possession.  From my time as a prosecutor, I know the  "ins" and "outs" of Minnesota's Theft laws (as well as what motivates the government) and can use that inside knowledge to make sure that you get the results you deserve.

I'll also work to see that your rights are protected at every stage of the process - ensuring that you get the best possible result on your day in court.

What To Do Next

Take the next, right step.  Call the Rolloff Law Office today for a free consultation.  The government has lawyers working against you.  It's time to get someone on your side who knows the ropes and will use that knowledge to protest your rights and your future.  Call (612) 234-1165 to begin the process of reclaiming your freedoms.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Minnesota DWI - Asleep at the Wheel (Explained)

You can imagine that as an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney I get asked a lot of questions from friends and family about how to avoid a Drunk Driving arrest. 

The most common of these often touch on the all too real belief that if they've had too much to drink, and they realize as much while they're driving, the best thing to do is to pull over and just sleep it off. 

In a lot of common sense ways this would seem to make sense; however, as was the case with this poor man from northern Minnesota (link) if the keys to said vehicle are anywhere in your immediate vicinity - you could be arrested and convicted of a Minnesota DWI.

Minnesota's DWI Law - Physical Control

In Minnesota, the law states that you can be charged with Drunk Driving if you have “physical control” over a motor vehicle when you have a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. And, by the looks of things, the courts take a rather expansive view of the that term - physical control.  So that if someone is in a position to even exercise the slightest dominion over their vehicle (and that much difficulty make the vehicle a source of danger) law enforcement is well within its rights to arrest you. 

Granted this interpretation begs all sorts of questions.  Such as: What if someone is merely walking to his or her car in the parking lot of a bar, after they've had too much to drink, with their keys in their pocket and merely intending to get something from inside it; or if someone is just doing some repairs on their hot-rod in the garage or drive-way and enjoying a few 'pops' while doing do --- What kind of liability are these people subject to?

What Should You Do?

There's the common law and there's common sense - and often the two do not always jive.  If you've been arrested for a Minnesota DWI - whether you were driving or not - your next, best move is to contact an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney to learn your rights.  As a colleague of mine is fond of intoning, just because you've been arrested that does not mean you will be convicted.  Talk to someone who knows what they're doing - and learn how to fight for common sense interpretations of the law.

If you need to discuss a DWI arrest contact the Rolloff Law Office.  I have extensive experience, from both sides of the aisle - in assisting individuals charged with Drunk Driving.  Call (612) 234-1165 to set up a free DWI consultation - today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Minnesota Assault/Domestic Assault Charges

If you're facing an Assault charge, the first thing you have to understand is that law enforcement is not your best ally and often they are not on the scene to help you.  Believe me, because it is not illegal for the police to lie to you in the midst of an investigation. Therefore, if you do talk to the police about any infraction - without an attorney present - you do so at your own peril.

What Should You Do if You're Being Investigated?

#1 - Do not talk to the police. Be polite and courteous, but refuse to discuss with law enforcement their investigation. If they persist, plainly and repeatedly tell them that you do not want to talk with them, that you want a lawyer present, and that you want to remain silent. Never allow yourself to be tricked or coerced by the police.

#2 - Don't talk to others.  Remember, anything you say about the case to anyone, including most family members, can be used against you in court. Many people I've met with, after complying with step #1, make the mistake of confiding in someone - only to later have those conversations come back to haunt them  Granted, if you've made such statements, they can be dealt with; however, if you have not - then don't.

#3 - Never agree to anything - without the advice of a lawyer. This means, never give law enforcement permission to search anywhere, draw your blood or discuss the case with you.

#4 - Never resist arrest. If an officer is seeking to arrest you, be polite and cooperative. Inform the officer that you will go along peacefully. It is also important to immediately inform the officer - or any officer who tries to question you - that you will not talk without an attorney present.

#5 - If you are arrested - tell the police that you wish to make a telephone call. It is essential that you get a lawyer involved in your case quickly. If you call family or friends have them contact an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.

As an attorney for the government, I prosecuted dozen upon dozens of Assault and Domestic Assault cases.  Often, they were the most difficult files I handled.  Let me put my experience - working from the other side of the aisle - to work for you.  My insiders perspective has won my clients the results that they desire.,  Call the Rolloff Law Office today to set up a free, no obligation, consultation.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Minnesota Court Appointed Lawyers (Explained)

If you are charged with a crime in the State of Minnesota, you have a right to be represented by an attorney.  If you can't afford one, the court can appoint one for you.  These people are called public defenders. Often I'm asked: which is better  a court-appointed attorney or a private lawyer?  Well, in the end, that depends on you, your case, and what you'd like to see happen.

Court-appointed lawyers are assigned based on an individuals ability to pay.  The less wealth you have, the better your chance of getting a "free" lawyer.  That being said, at no time are you ever required to settle for a court-appointed lawyer. As is your right, you have the option of representing yourself or hiring an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.

As a matter of fact, a number of my clients have originally had a court-appointed attorney, but later chose to leave that person and hire me. 

Why?  Well, I'm often told that my clients come to me because their court-appointed attorney is failing to give their case the attention and aggressiveness a proper legal defense requires.  Believe it or not, I get their point.  By no fault of the public defenders, they are often overburdened - working file after file to keep up with the demands of the system.  In the end, because they have so many clients, they can't bring the same level of detail and attention to your case that a private attorney can.

What Should You Do?

Any time that you don’t believe that you are being well represented by your public defender, there are a number of fixes available. First, you always have the right to hire a private attorney to assist you. Often times clients begin a case without the financial ability to hire counsel and then have their situation change. Sometimes, it takes time to gather up the resources needed to retain the right lawyer.  But, know this: you can replace attorneys at any time during your case.

At the Rolloff Law Office, I have clients who have hired me - after firing their court-appointed attorney. Given the choice between representing themselves (which is never recommended) and hiring an aggressive, tenacious, and experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, the decision is usually very clear.

Call today to schedule a free initial consultation. I'll give your case the respect and dignity it deserve.  Listen, I don’t "farm out" your case, or have 50-100 others on my desk at any one time. I work all of my own files. My attention and focus is on you. 

If you need someone by your side to get your case back on track - call me today at (612) 234-1165 and let's get things rolling.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Minnesota Probation Violations (Explained)

Often as part of every criminal sentence meted out by a judge - for a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor and felony plea - is the prospect of being placed on Probation.  In my opinion, the system would want one to believe that this is a type of leniency that allows a convicted individual to remain in or re-enter society.  But, as anyone who has ever been placed on probation - there's often nothing too easy abou it.

Generally speaking, defendants may be sentenced only to a probationary term or probation may be granted after some time in custody has been served.  If someone is place on probation, that person is often supervised by an agent - who is employed by the corrections system.

If you receive notice of a Probation Violation, or even if you just think you may have violated your probation but have not yet been suspected or accused of it, you should quickly contact an experienced Minnesota Probation Violation Defense Attorney.

Probation Violations (Defined)

Because Probation is a form of leniency, it can be revoked at any time.  This often is the case when someone violates the terms of the probation sentence laid out by the judge.  A few examples of such violations includes:incurring a new criminal charge, failing to submit to or failing a drug/alcohol test, moving - without informing your agent, missing a scheduled probation meeting, and/or failing to appear for court.

If You've Violated Your Probation

If you are suspected of committing a violation, you'll often receive notice of it and be ordered to appear in court.  At a violation or Probation revocation hearing, the court will determine whether the violation actually occurred and then you'll be asked if you admit or deny the violation.  If you deny it, the government must put forth evidence showing that it is more likely than not that you in fact did fail to follow the court's order.  You'll also have a chance to put forth your own evidence.  Then, the judge decides if that burden is met. 

Probation Violations (Consequences)

If you're found to have violated your probation, there are a number of possible outcomes - good and bad, such as: continuing the probation without punishment for the violation,  modifying the conditions of the probation or extending the length of probation,  revoking the probation and executing the stayed (ie., suspended) jail sentence hanging over the violator's head. This basically means that your original sentence would be re-activated.

Probation Violations Defenses

Since the burden of proof is much lower at a Probation Violation hearing than at trial, it is very important that you be represented an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.  Often the best defense is no defense at all; rather, I've found that my best successes come when working with the government's lawyers to arrive at an agreement that elevates the need for a hearing and/or the harshest of consequences. Even if your violation stems from a new criminal offense, not only can I fight to win you a dismissal or acquittal on those charges - I can also work to ensure that the new sentence runs concurrently with (and not consecutively to) the probation sentence.

What Should You Do?

For a long time now, Minnesota law has recognized that people who have make a few, isolated mistakes while on probation should have the opportunity to not have that error to lead to the ultimate consequence.  If you feel as though what you've read here applies to you, contact an experienced Minnesota Probation Violation Hearing Attorney to discuss your questions and concerns and to get the ball rolling working to ensure that your slip doesn't continue to hinder your future.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top 5 Police Mistakes (DWI Arrests)

Police are human and as such they make mistakes.  An experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney will find those errors and work them to your benefit - winning you the outcomes you desire  including the possibility of getting your case dismissed. These are the Top 5 mistakes your lawyer should look for.

#1 - Did the Police Have a Reason to Pull You Over?

Cops can't stop a vehicle on a hunch or because you look "funny." To be a valid-legal stop, an officer must sufficiently explain to the Court why he pulled you over - such as observing a violation of the law, like Speeding. However, if he can't do that, then any/all of the evidence he gathers after that should be dismissed. 

#2 - Did the Officer Assume Too Much?

If the officer notes an odor of alcohol coming from your vehicle - did he just assume that that odor meant that you were intoxicated?  Granted, such an odor might support an assumption that someone has been drinking; however, it is by no means an indication of intoxication.  If this is all the officer is relying you - your attorney might be able to make an argument that could see the charges against you reduced and/or dismissed.

#3 - The Field Sobriety Tests

These roadside gymnastics have taken on an all to real importance in Drunk Driving cases, as such they are ripe for ferocious argument when mounting a vigorous DWI defense. Areas that an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney needs to attack are: (a.) did the officer fail to disqualify you if you were physically unable to pass these exercises; (b) were the tests conducted in an unfair manner - under less than ideal circumstances; (c.) were you properly instructed as to how to perform the tests; and (d.) does the officer know how to assess one's performance on these tests.

#4 -  The Implied Consent Procedure

Prior to requesting a sample of your blood, breath or urine, you must be informed of your right to an attorney. If an officer failed to do this and/or make resources available to you to contact a lawyer - then a real strong argument can (and should) be made that the results of the test you take should be excluded in their entirety. Test results should also be excluded

If the results are suppressed, your case is all but done - because the blood alcohol number is often the only thing that cases such as this turn on. 

#5 - Test Refusal - Did You Really Refuse?

If law enforcement decide that you refused the test (which is often more complicated when someone actually agrees to the test, but the officer reads their behavior to mean otherwise) a question can always be raised about whether you actually refused. A good Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney will seek to address whether you were ever asked about any physical problem you might have had that made taking the test impossible or whether you were ever given the option to perform a test other than blood, breath or urine.

What Should You Do?

If you're like most people, you probably didn't know that the police made the kinds of mistakes that I've just laid out and/or you didn't know know that these mistakes could significantly help your case. Well, believe me - they can.  Big Time.

Since leaving the county attorney's office, I've used the inside knowledge I've been given to to defend individuals who've been charged with Drunk Driving.  As a former prosecutor, I know exactly what needs to be in a police report and/or testified to in court.  If it isn't there - I'll effectively make an argument to the court that could see your charges reduced (or dismissed) and your license re-instated.

If you've been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, you need experienced legal representation right away. Call the Rolloff Law Office to set up a free, no obligation consultation and I'll explain exactly what I can do to help you. Call today - (612) 619-0262.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Minnesota DWI - Prescription Drugs & Cold Medicine (Explained)

Many of you have probably have heard of Drunk Driving, DUI and/or the phrase "driving under the influence," but  do you know exactly what that means?

Some might say it just means driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs like marijuana. That's correct - but, what many people fail to realize is that it also means that a person can be charged with a Minnesota DUI when he or she drives a motor vehicle under the influence of legal substances - like drugs prescribed by a doctor and even cold medicine.

In the State of Minnesota, it's true that people will face DUI charges if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of (.08) or more. But it's also true that a driver can be charged with a Minnesota DUI even if they haven't even been drinking at all.

Believe it or not, the police can pull over and cite drivers for driving under the influence of any substance - legal or otherwise - if they find, for example, that that substance has influenced their ability to drive. 

What Should You Do?

If you or someone you care about has been arrested for a Minnesota DUI, you'll need someone who knows how to contest these charges.  I'm an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.  Call me today to set up a no-cost consultation to discuss what the Rolloff Law Office can do to protect your rights - and your future.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Minnesota Cash Bail & Bond (Explained)

Maybe it is a good thing you don't have the day-to-day familiarity I have with what goes on inside a courtroom - that is until you need to know to protect yourself or someone you love.  Here is a little lesson on Minnesota Bail and Bonds.  To know more, contact and experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.

What is Bail?
Generally speaking, bail is an amount of money paid to the court by a person charged with a crime to insure that he will comply with certain conditions of release - like  returning to court as ordered.  Essentially the idea is that if someone has some "skin in the game" and/or money at stake - that that person will do what the court tells him to do - or run the risk losing that money.

How Much Bail Will I Have to Pay?  
Bail amounts are based on two things: (i.) the likelihood that the offender will show up for any/all future court hearings; and (ii.) matters related to public safety.  If the person arrested is from out of state (or some distance from where the alleged crime took place,) has a history of failing to appear for court hearings in the past, and/or has no permanent address, the court will strongly examine  whether that individual will return for their next hearing - and bail will be set accordingly. If the crime is serious one (ie., crimes of violence and/or large drug crimes) or the person arrested has a pattern of criminal conduct, then the court will often find that there are public safety concerns and set a substantial bail.

The System is Fair, Right?
In theory, what've I've described here sounds fair, no? The problem for the accused is that most bail hearings are conducted with only the government's lawyer and judge there and high bail is often the result.  And, once that big number is out there, it’s hard to change.  Although I have seen bail amounts reduced at subsequent hearings - it's not that easy.  Getting the amount of bail reduced is an uphill battle. If it is at all possible, if you or a friend has been arrested, call an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney before the bail hearing.

What’s the Difference between Cash Bail and a Bond?
Once bail has been set, it can be posted in one of two ways: by paying the full amount in cash or by buying a "bail" bond. When cash is posted, that amount is returned to the person charged after the case is done. When a bond is purchased, the person charged buys a bond (for usually about 10% of the bail amount) from a licensed bail bond agent and the amount paid for that bond is not returned.  The purchasing of a bond creates a legal contract between the bond company and the court saying, if the offender does not comply with their conditions of release (like coming back to court) then the bond company has to pay the court the entire bond amount.

What Should You Do?
If you or someone you care about has been arrested or criminally charged, don’t go to court and “test the waters” to see what may or may not happen.  This is not one of those things you want to take lightly. Call the Rolloff Law Office before your first court appearance to ensure that your rights are protected.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Minnesota DWI Charges with a Test Below (.08)?

In Minnesota, we're told that the legal drinking limit is (.08). What that means is that if the alcohol content of your blood (your "BAC") is determined to be (.08) or higher, you are legally considered intoxicated and can be charged with Drunk Driving.

That being said, did you know that you can also be charged with a Minnesota DWI even though your BAC is found to be less than (.08)?

In a case where an individual's BAC is measured to be less than (.08), the government cannot offer the blood test to prove that the offender was driving drunk. Rather, what they will rely on (for charging - and at trial) are the observations made by the officer that made the arrest.

What he'll have to explain is how and why an individual's driving conduct and/or actions and appearance at the time of the stop lead the officer to conclude that the driver was under the influence of even a minimal amount of alcohol. Often this is done by offering evidence of any failed Field Sobriety Tests.

Granted, in many of these cases, a plea bargain is often available - but if you want to fight the charge - knows this: These matters are very defensible.

What Should You Do?

In order to navigate the often confusing legal system, your first best call should be to an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney.  If you want to take full advantage of the one shot you'll have to right this wrong - contact the Rolloff Law Office today for the comprehensive legal services that you'll need to ensure the best possible resolution of your DWI case.

Call today - (612) 234-1165 for a free, no obligation consultation.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why Should You Fight Your DWI Arrest?

If my experience as a prosecutor and as a Minnesota DWI Attorney has taught me anything it's that well-meaning individuals fail to fully appreciate the nature and consequences of becoming entangled in the criminal justice system. Nowhere is this more evident than with those charged with a (first) DWI.

For whatever reason, too many people will either try to represent themselves and/or hire a general practitioner-type attroney.  IMHO, neither have the knowledge or experience to provide their clients with the advice that they'll need to best serve their interests - in the short and long term. 

Believe me, and I've seen it often enough to know, a Drunk Driving conviction can change somone's whole life - not only in due to the penalties imposed by the judge like large fines, community service obligations and possible jail time - but also because of the long-term collateral consequences that can have a lasting and signifigant impact on one's future.

What Sort of Long Term Impacts?

One example of the severity of Minnesota's DWI penalties, can be illustrated by a gentleman I'll call Paul - a successful salesman.

In the fall of 2007, Paul was cited for Drunk Driving. Not believeing that anything could really be done about his arrest (because he'd been drinking before he drove,) he walked into court without an attorney and "fell on his sword" - pleading guilty without first fully assessing the true nature and consequences of his actions.

To say that he came to regret this decision would be an understatement.  See, due to the nature of Paul's work - having a valid driver's license was a necessary prerequisite.

Paul's loss of his driver's license effected his ability to meet clients. As such, he had to either beg, cajole or hire other people to drive him to client meeting or risk being caught driving on a suspended license. 

Then there was the stigma of his arrest and conviction.  Once word got around about that, some of his clients became reluctant to deal with him and his sales numbers suffered.  Then, when the recession hit Paul was laid off - owning in no small part to his declining sales numbers and performance.

As anyone who has been out of work can appreciate, it’s tough out there - to find that next job or even get that first interview.  What Paul learned sas that these difficulties were made worse by his dependence on others to give him rides to interviews. (This continued even after Paul had his driving privledges re-instated because he could not afford the expensive insurance premiums he was now being asked to pay.)

If Paul was lucky enough to gain an interview - where he could demonstrate his skills and past successes - he often left those meetings feeling as though he would be offered the job.  However, that wasn't the case. After a while, Paul came to conclude that maybe his DWI arrest was the deciding factor - after he came to learn that anyone (including a potential employer) could easily access Minnesota criminal records online.

Of course, without a job Paul was unable to keep up with his bills - first being forced to sell his vehicle and soon thereafter his townhouse.  As the recession continued, he ran up of credit cards, and due to his mounting debt he was forced to sell anything of value

The vicious cycle continued until he was forced to declare bankruptcy in late 2009 and later eventually divorce in 2010.  He fell in to depression and substance abuse. 

Once a symbol of the American Dream, Paul is now a casualty of the war on Drunk Drivers.

What Can You Do?

No matter the infraction, if you want to ensure that your rights and freedoms are upheld and fought for - against the big, bad government - you need to seriously consider getting an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney to take your case. Granted they can't always work miracles and just have the charges go away, but they can take the sting out of the penalty that the government's seeking to have you suffer.

I've been successful in getting fines reduce, jail time thrown out and license revocations shortened or withdrawn in their entirety. If you want someone on your side, let me use what I learned as a former prosecutor to win you the results you desire. Call the Rolloff Law Office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, today.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ask a Minnesota Criminal DWI Attorney

As an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I get questions; lots and lots of questions.  Here are just a few I've received recently - on the topic of Drunk Driving.  Hopefully some of the suggestions listed here will assist you in understanding what the heck is going on the next time you have contact with the cops.

What should I say if I'm stopped by a police officer and he asks me if I've been drinking?
Believe it or not, you are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions.  Politely asserting that you'd like to speak with a lawyer before answering any questions (save for those about who you are) is all you have to say.

What are Field Sobriety Tests and do I have to take them?
Someone who is being investigated, by an officer, as a possible drunk driver - does not have to submit to any Field Sobriety Tests.  Generally speaking, taking these roadside tests (ie., the Walk and Turn, the One-Leg Stand and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) often does more harm than good to your case because the officer isn't looking for reasons to let you go.  Rather he is most likely looking for things that confirm his suspicions. That being said, if you refuse to take these tests you will most likely be arrested.

Do I have a right to an attorney before deciding whether to take a blood, breath or urine test?
You have an absolute right to speak with an attorney before submitting to any chemical testing - so long as your request to do so does not unreasonably delay the testing process.

Which test should I take - blood, breath or urine?
If a breath test is offered - you must take it. However, if blood or urine tests are proposed then a choice of tests must be made available.

Why was I charged with two DWIs?  
Minnesota has five different offenses that fall within the generic term drunk driving: (i.) Driving while under the influence of alcohol; (ii.) Driving under the influence of alcohol with a test result of .08 or more; (iii.) Driving under the influence of alcohol with a test result of .20 or more; (iv.) Driving while under the influence of controlled dangerous substances; and (v.) Test refusal.  More often then not, when someone is arrested for DWI, they are almost always automatically charge under the simple "under the influence"count - along with the appropriate charge dealing with the amount of alcohol in his or her system.

What is the punishment for drunk driving?
More often than not, if your found guilty of a first-time DWI offense you will probably be assessed a fine, your driver's license will be revoked, be required to attend an alcohol awareness class, and you will be placed on probation. A short jail sentence may or may not be required - usually that is in cases of a second or third-time offense. Other consequences might include, community work service, a chemical dependency evaluation, attending AA meetings, and a MADD victim impact panel presentation.

What should I do?
If you're looking for an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney who will represent your best interests throughout the process, call the Rolloff Law Office today to set up a free, no obligation, consultation, by dialing (612) 234-1165.