Sunday, February 26, 2012

Minnesota Police and the 5th Amendment (Explained)

Based on a number of conversations I've had lately, it appears as though your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, as set forth in the constitution, and Minnesota Law Enforcement's job appear to be more in conflict than ever. Why? Well, the cops know that almost anything you say can hurt your criminal case and as such they'll try stop at nothing to question you.  This is why, before you ever submit to any interrogation by a peace officer you should ask to have your Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney present.

Why Would Anyone - Ever - Talk to the Police?

The problem is when we are accused of and/or even just asked about something we have this natural inclination to try and explain ourselves.  Where this becomes problematic is when law enforcement is involved and we try to convince them that we've done nothing wrong. What you may not know is that many police are: (1) not interested in the truth, and/or (2) already believe the first person who told them their story and, based merely on that, have already made up their minds about what happened.

Seriously,  a sort of "tunnel vision" sets in - and even if you offer a plausible alternative to what they believe has happened - they just won't listen.  Why?  Well, believe it or not the cops are often motivated by factors other than the truth. For example, they may be in a hurry with only a few minutes to spend on a certain case - and they just want to write their report, issue a summons and be done it. At other times, they have a number of open files -  stacked up one after another - so they get lazy. Or, they may not like you for some reason and have no interest in finding another suspect responsible for the crime your accused of committing. Therefore, it is simplest to just charge you --- and maybe the "truth" will get worked out later.  Finally, they may just want a conviction statistic more than they want the truth.

The Real Problem

The number one issue, in my opinion, is that law enforcement all too often believe the first person to call them - and from there on out (once they've talked to their "victim") they make up in their minds about what happened.  And, as a result, they talk with you (or anyone on your side) using that filter - listening only for incriminating statements and interpreting your words in a conviction oriented manner. Honestly, they pretend to want to get at the truth only to keep a suspect talking. Then, they write down all the negative things you say and ignore the positive.

Somehow, individuals accused in criminal cases forget that police are experts in getting convictions and that they are not your friend. Convictions are their job and they are good at it. Only with silence can the accused stop police in their tracks.

What Are You Going to Do?

If you have been contacted by police, exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and call The Rolloff Law Office at (612) 234-1165. Together, we can protect you, your family and your future.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Minnesota DWI Costs (Explained)

The average cost for someone charged and convicted for a first-time Minnesota DWI has been estimated to be anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.   Of those, legal fees for your Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney and fines are but a mere, obvious part.  The following is a list of the obvious and the not so obvious costs frequently associated with a Drunk Driving conviction.

Obvious Minnesota DWI Costs

  1.  Bail
  2.  Vehicle Towing and Storage
  3.  Court Filing Fees (License Revocation)
  4.  Driver’s License Reinstatement Fee
  5.  Chemical Dependency Assessments
  6.  Electronic Home/Alcohol Monitoring
  7.  DWI Education Classes
  8.  Chemical Dependency Treatment
  9.  Criminal Record (Permanent)

Not So Obvious Minnesota DWI Costs

  1.  Laboratory Analysis of Alternative Blood, Breath or Urine Testing
  2.  Expert Fees
  3.  Increased Insurance Premiums (Automotive and Health)
  4.  Alternative Transportation Costs
  5.  Income Loss
  6.  Employment Termination (especially for those with Professional or Pilot’s License)
  7.  Damage to Your Credit Rating
  8.  Exclusion from Foreign Countries, like Canada
  9.  Possible Loss of the Right to Possess a Firearm
  10.  Possible Loss of the Right to Vote
  11.  Delay or Denial of Citizenship

How to Mitigate Your Costs
Unfortunately I can’t offer you a list of every single cost associated with a Drunk Driving conviction.  Each case is unique - as it concerns the potential monetary and emotional consequences you could face involving your employment and family.  Let the Rolloff Law Office help you better understand the path your on and we can work to alleviate some of those concerns.  Call today - (612) 234-1165 to schedule a FREE initial consultation to discuss your situation.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Minnesota Criminal Sentences (Explained)

Just as many of us know - there's more than one way to skin a cat - there are also many ways a Minnesota criminal case can be resolved.  As an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I've worked out deals that have encompassed everyone of these outcomes. 

Below are a list of the sentences one may receive in a Minnesota courtroom - with the best outcome (save for an outright dismissal) listed at the top with the "less" better results following behind.    

  • Continuance for Dismissal/Continuance without Prosecution (CFD/CWOP): Here, the government sets aside your case for a set amount of time, and they then will dismiss the case after that period of time if you fulfill all of their conditions.
  • Stay of Adjudication: The individual offers a guilty plea to the court, but the court does not accept it.  There is then a probationary period set with certain conditions.  If the terms of the probationary period are met, the case is dismissed at the end of that period.
  • Stay of Imposition: The charged individual offers a guilty plea to the court which the court accepts, but does not impose the full sentence.  There is a probationary period set with certain conditions, and at the end of the probationary period (if all conditions are fulfilled) the conviction may be reduced (e.g. from a felony to a misdemeanor) or it may be vacated and dismissed.
  • Stay of Execution of Sentence:  An individual offers a guilty plea which the court accepts.  He/she is then placed on probation, with certain (or all) terms of the sentence are stayed - not given.  For example, someone who is sentence to 30 days in jail “stayed” would not have to go to jail if they successfully fulfill the terms of their probation.
  • Execution of Sentence:  Here, the accused offers a guilty plea which the court accepts, and the sentence is imposed without any terms/conditions stayed.  For example, someone who is sentenced to 90 days of jail “executed” would actually have to serve that jail time.

    What Can You Do?

    My approach to handling my client's cases is to be persistent and to diligently work toward getting them the outcome they desire - ie., getting their case dismissed if at all possible. To do that, I explore all options; I gather all necessary information regarding their arrest and the investigation by law enforcement agencies; and I consider the circumstances of the charges in their case, as well as any previous criminal history. Then, and only then, do I move forward with the options for dismissal available in your criminal case.

    Since dismissals can occur anytime after the arrest (and often they happen later rather than sooner,) I never lose sight of that option throughout the proceedings. In that time, I'll work to negotiate throughout your case with the goal of getting the charges against you discharged.

    If you (or someone you love) thinks that they need a lawyer, you probably need a lawyer. Call the Rolloff Law Office today at (612) 234-1165 and schedule a no-cost, no obligation consultation.

    Saturday, February 18, 2012

    Minnesota DWI Court Process (Criminal Cases)

    Minnesota Drunk Driving cases - once they end up in court - go down a couple of different roads.  If you are arrested for DWI, not only will you be subjected to the possibility of criminal consequences but in another proceeding (unrelated to the criminal charges) you'll also be faced with the dilemma of losing your driving privilege. 

    Here, we'll cover the criminal case DWI process - in another post I'll describe the civil case process.  Of course, this is but a rough out line of what you could face - as each Minnesota DWI case is different.  If you've been arrested for Drunk Driving, your best bet is to speak with a Minnesota Criminal & DWI Attorney about your unique options.

    Minnesota DWI Criminal Process
    Throughout your case, you may be required to attend a number of court appearances. 

    1. The Arraignment

    This court appearance is the first court appearance scheduled when the crime being charged is a misdemeanor or lesser offense --- not a gross misdemeanor or felony.  Your presence at this appearance may or may not be required depending on the county and/or court in which you are being asked to appear. 

    If you are charged with a misdemeanor DWI, you can often avoid appearing for this first court date by hiring an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney.  If your appearance is necessary, this is simply an opportunity to either:  (a.) enter a plea of not guilty and schedule a pre-trial (explained below) or (b.) attempt to resolve your case either through dismissal of charges, plea negotiation or other available means. 

     2. Pre-Trial Hearing

    This "2nd" appearance goes by a number of different names.  Generally speaking, your presence at this appearance is required. In short, this court appearance is simply to determine if the case can be resolved without the need for further court appearances. 

    This appearance is an opportunity for your attorney to:  (a,) speak with the DA about the status of the case and possible resolutions; and/or (b.) arrange for the exchange of additional evidence; and/or (c.) schedule a Contested Probable Cause Hearing (explained below); and/or (d.) schedule the matter for Trial.  In any event, typically no evidence is presented at this hearing and no witnesses need be present.

     3. Contested Probably Cause Hearing

    Again, your presence at this court hearing is often required.  At this hearing, your attorney will either:  (a.) request that the Court dismiss all or some of the criminal charges against you; and/or (b.) request that the Court not allow the prosecution to admit some or all of the evidence against you (which can sometimes lead to the dismissal of the charges referenced above). 

    Normally, this court appearance will require the presence of any arresting officer or other persons who participated in gathering any evidence that would be offered by the opposing party against you.  On occasion, it may be necessary for your attorney to arrange to have witnesses (who can testify on your behalf) to participate at this court appearance.

    4. Trial

    Your presence at this court appearance is definitely required.  At this appearance, your case will either be resolved (discussed in general in the Arraignment section above) or continued to a trial.  You have a Constitutional right to have a trial before either (a.) a jury of your peers or (b.) a Judge In either event, you are presumed innocent unless and until the prosecution meets its burden in proving all the elements of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

    5. Sentencing
    Your presence at this court appearance is also required.  At this court appearance, the Judge will hand down your sentence (if you have plead guilty and/or have been convicted,) which may involve the stay of imposition of time in jail, fines and other conditions of which you must abide by during the term of your probation.  An experienced Minnesota DWI attorney may be able to negotiate an alternative to jail - such as treatment, Electronic Home Monitoring, release programs or community service.  If your case comes to this, we'll have an opportunity, prior to the sentencing, to discuss the possible outcomes.

    Before any of what is set-forth above, if you have been arrested for a DWI, you owe it to yourself to speak to an attorney to learn what's in store for you.  Call the Rolloff Law Office today - at (612) 234-1165) - to speak to someone who knows what you'll need to know.  All initial consultations are FREE - so do it!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Minnesota DWI Court Process (Civil Cases)

    In addition to the criminal court case that many of you would expect - if you found yourself facing a Minnesota DWI charge - there's also the psooibility that you'll also have to answer for civil penalties assiciated with the same arrest.

    Generally speaking, and unless specifically required by the Court, your appearance at such court hearings is not always required.  However, depending on the specific facts of your case, your appearance at court appearances may be requested.  

    Implied Consent Hearing
    Sometimes referred to as an “IC” or “Driver’s License Trial”, this court appearance is like a Court Trial in which your Minnesota DWI Attorney and the Attorney for the State argue before the Court seeking, among other things, the lifting the revocation of your Minnesota driving privilege.  This hearing is conducted in the same manner as a Contested Probable Causey Hearing.  In short, it is your  burden to show that the revocation s not justified.  If you fail to meet that burden, the Court will sustain the revocation of your driver's license.  In other words, you will lose your driving privileges.

    B-Card Hearing

    This hearing takes place if you are alleged to have violated the conditions of your B-Card (a driver' license where use of alcohol has been restricted).   It is conducted in the same manner as the Implied Consent Hearing , except that we are seeking the reinstatement of B-Card driving privileges.

    Forfeiture of Motor Vehicle and/or Property Hearing
    This is conducted in the same manner as an Implied Consent or B-Card Hearing, except that you and your attorney are seeking the return of your vehicle or property.

    As you can see, there are many possible court appearances that can take place during the course of any Drunk Driving case.  Hopefully this guide (and the one about the criminal process) has given you some basic understanding of what appearances you may expect as your case moves through the system.

    An experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney will be able to explain or answer any question that you may have or that this guide does not fully answer.  If you need answers you can rely on - call the Rolloff Law Office today at (612) 234-1165.

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    If You Think You Need An Attorney ... (Explained)

    As a former prosecutor, and now a defense attorney, it surprises me how many people go into court with out even speaking to an attorney.  Seriosuly, in my opinion waaaaaay too many people plead guilty to crimes that they would not be convicted of if they had a lawyer.

    If you even think you need a lawyer - odds are you do need a lawyer.  That being said, what kind of lawyer do you need?  Here are a few things you might want to consider when looking for a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney
    • Does that attorney practice only criminal law?  An attorney who focuses on only one area of law may be more knowledgeable about your case.  You wouldn’t want to trust your life to a surgeon who only practices medicine part time.
    • Are you hiring an attorney or a firm?  You want to hire one attorney who will handle your case from beginning to end.  This attorney will know more about your case and may get you a better result.  At some firms you think you are hiring one attorney, only to have your case assigned to a junior associate.  Choose and hire an attorney, not a firm.
    • Is your initial consultation free?  If you cannot sit down face-to-face and discuss your case for free, how can you decide if it is worth hiring that attorney?
    • Are you being promised a specific result?  NO attorney can guarantee specific results, no matter what.  Choose an attorney who will tell you the truth and give you the facts you need to make the decisions yourself.

    If you are considering hiring an attorney, or even if you are curious about what your charges mean, contact The Rolloff Law Office and schedule a FREE initial consultation to discuss your case. 
    I practice only criminal law, having been both a city and state prosecutor.  When you hire me, I will be the only attorney who works on your case.  I pride myself on my candor with my clients.  I never sugar-coat situations and I always give my clients all of the facts and advice necessary for them to make their own informed decisions. 
    When I meet with you, I will tell you if you even need to hire an attorney at all.  If you do decide to retain our services, I offer reasonable fees, payment plans, and you can make payments by credit card.

    You need to know your rights.  You need to speak with an attorney before you make any decisions.  Call The Rolloff Law Office today at (612) 234-1165.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Were You Read Your Rights?

    If there's one question about arrests that I, as an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, answer more than any other it's about the reading of your rights.  Maybe it's because of all of the cop shows on TV, but individuals really know that the police have to read you your rights - but what is often lost in all of the info-tainment is the why, the when and the how of the Miranda warning.  Hopefully this post clears up some confusion.

    What's Required?

    "In Custody" Requirement This definition is important, and often raises issues which must be sorted out by the court in an evidentiary hearing. You must be in custody for this law to apply to you.

    What does it mean to be in custody? In Minnesota it generally means that you are not free to leave, and this restraint must not just be temporary. However,k courts will allow people to be held for officer's safety without implicating the Miranda warning.

    Now, while I would never agree that there is a proper distinction under the Miranda case law, many judges do. So, as aggressive Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney working for your freedom, I'll work to draw the court's attention to case law which supports your facts and argue application of Miranda.

    "Interrogation" Requirement Interrogation or questioning is the second component of the Miranda rule. "Interrogation" usually means the police are asking you something more than your name and you are responding to those questions. If you volunteer information to the police and just start talking to them, it is completely admissible against you - even if you are in custody. So, don't volunteer information to the police. We always advise our clients to never give any statements to police, but those you volunteer are the most dangerous.

    Remedy for a Violation of the Miranda Rule

    People call tell me all the time that the police did not read them their rights, so they want the case dismissed. Sorry to say - it just doesn't work like that.  The best case scenario for a violation of the Miranda rule is that what you said will not be admissible at your trial. Now, this can be a huge development in your case. However, many times it is not that important because police have the same evidence you gave them from other sources.

    What Should You Do?

    My best advice is to not make any statements to the police. They are not your friends and there is only one reason they want to talk to you: to gain evidence to use against you. They often do not care about what actually occurred and are only trying to gain information to use against you. Don't be fooled into thinking they are your knight in shining armor and will save you. They are your opponent. Your criminal defense lawyer is your only friend.

    So, if you are contacted by police or arrested, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us the Rolloff Law Office at once, at (612) 234-1165. Together, we can protect your future.

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Private Attorney or Public Defender? (Explained)

    The United State's Constitution asserts that we all of a right to an attorney - and if you can't afford one, a lawyer will be appoint to represent you.  Now, you may not qualify for the public defender, but if you do, you may be wondering whether you should keep your public defender or choose to hire an experience, private, Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.

    Public defenders are attorneys paid by the state, who do not choose their clients.  Similarly, you don’t get to choose which public defender you get.  In the case of private attorneys, individuals faced with a crime have available to them a wide array of lawyers with varying skill sets and fee structures to choose from.  Believe it or not, there are good, aggressive and affordable lawyers who can and will help you with your cases. 

    Public defenders may be excellent lawyers, and many of them are; in fact, many excellent private criminal lawyers were once public defenders.  However, public defenders are incredibly busy and often handle a caseload that is simply unimaginable to a private attorney.  Because a private attorney chooses what cases he or she will take on, he can control his caseload and ensure that each client receives a high level of attention to detail.  If you are looking for an attorney to be available almost instantaneously on a 24/7 basis, a public defender may not be the way to go.

    That being said, not all private defense lawyers are created equal – perhaps an obvious point, but an important one nonetheless.  Use your better judgment; you can glean a lot about the way an attorney will treat you once he has your money from the initial phone consultation and the initial in-office consultation.

    Give This a Try

    I got my start as a prosecutor - working for the government.  During my tenure working in the DA's office, I saw waaaaaay too many individuals who were under served and overcharged by their attorneys - public and private.  I also saw that there was a need to be filled for those individuals who didn't qualify for a public defender - but needed someone to assist them.

    If you or someone you love needs help with a legal issue, call me to set up a FREE consultation.  I think you'll be surprised what some one in the know can tell you about your case - and how little it will actually cost to protect your rights and your future.  Call the Rolloff Law Office, today at (612) 61234-1165

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Minnesota Domestic Assault Charges

    Domestic violence is one of the ugliest crimes, because it occurs between people who are supposed to love and respect one another.  Often, it can be used as a form of manipulation and control, leaving long-term scars on its victims, but unfortunately unfounded allegations of such activity can have lasting effects on the falsely accused.  If you've been charged with Domestic Assault - you need to be aware that this is a serious matter that could lead not only to a fine and jail time - but could also have life long impacts on you and your freedoms.  Therefore, if you were planning on represent yourself, you may want to reconsider.

    Experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorneys who specialize in Domestic Assault cases are usually skilled negotiators and often a good deal is better than taking one's chances in front of a judge or jury. I've worked hundreds of cases like this - from both sides of the aisle.  I know what needs to be done - and why - to earn my clients favorable outcomes. 

    The Next Step

    If you or someone you love has been charged with Domesti Assault you should have an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney by your side to talk you through this often difficult process. Not only to address what might happen with the courts, but to also fill you in on the wide-ranging and often unforeseen collateral consequences.

    As a former prosecutor, I am quite aware of how these cases are handled. Understand this, you might want to go it alone --- but the procedural aspects of these cases are quite unique. And, to do-it-yourself --- well, you do so at your own risk. 

    If you find want help, don’t hesitate to contact The Rolloff Law Office for a free consultation to discuss your case. Call today: (612) 234-1165.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Minnesota Self-Defense (Explained)

    In my humble opinion, too many Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorneys fail to consider the best "weapon" in their arsenal when defending clients against Assault cases --- The Self-Defense defense. All too often they forget that their are these affirmative defenses which can greatly increase the burden of proof imposed upon the government and their case.

    The laws of the State of Minnesota provide, generally that you can use physical force upon another person in order to defend yourself or another from the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by another. 

    What this often means is - that you don't have to wait until you are hit by another before you protect yourself. If someone is in your face and about to hit you, you can push them away or hit them. Granted, it is always best to start with the least aggressive use of force first and see if that works. (Know this, you can almost never use deadly force as Self- Defense against another unless lesser force doesn't make sense and you or another are in imminent danger of being killed or seriously injured.)

    Where My Experience Comes In

    As a former prosecutor, I've seen Self-Defense used as a defense and I frequently see Self Defense - successfully in cases where my clients are charged with Assault.  As your attorney, I put forth this defense to protect you at trial, and make a case that the use or threat of use of force upon the "victim" was reasonable and excusable under the law. 

    It is critical that my clients not give statements to police about the case, or the police will ask questions which defeat the expected use of this defense. Police are not looking to help the accused defend themselves and will only try to get evidence to help the DA win the case at trial.

    If you have been contacted by police regarding an Assault charge - be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and the Rolloff Law Office today at 303-731-0719.  Together, we can protect your future.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Minnesota Jury Trials (Explained)

    As any experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney will tell you --- very few criminal cases ever proceed to trial.  The fact of the matter is either someone is clearly guilty of the offense and will settle to get a good deal. Or the government's case is so poor that they'll decide to dismiss or put such an appealing offer on the table that even an innocent party will feel compelled to take it, after weighing the "worst-case-scenario" outcome they could face if the prosecutor got lucky.  That being said, you know who else has "issues" about jury trials?   Judges do.  After more than a decade of working with them, I think I finally understand why.


    There are two main reasons judges dislike jury trials: When a lawyer becomes a judge, they are idealistic and proud to be in this noble system of justice. Yet, over time, they grow frustrated with results beyond their control. After presiding over thousands of cases, they start to develop an opinion about what is "right". While judges get to sentence people and tell lawyers what is right and wrong in Drunk Driving, Assault and  Theft cases that plead out, they have no control over the issue of guilt or innocence when a jury is involved.

    I believe that (at some level) judges resent this loss of control and develop something of a complex. They like being in charge - and when a case's decision is up to a jury they become somewhat resentful because it denies them the control they crave. 


    The second reason? Calender control. The judge's calender is a delicate science - bordering on art. As our society erodes from the consequences of our moral promiscuity ... crime soars. This increase means that each judge is required to handle more cases. Adding many new cases a week, over time, creates an unmanageable docket. This time crunch could force judges to cut corners if they don't want to work around the clock -  and jury trials are time hogs

    A judge can conduct a court trial, without a jury, in a third the time it takes to do a jury trial. There are many procedural steps a judge must ensure with a jury. Juries can't hear certain evidence. Juries must constantly be instructed on the law. The list goes on and on. Jury trials simply take a lot of time. In a world where judges don't have time, they look for ways to cut corners and be more efficient - even at the expense of defendants. Judges can do this in every area except jury trials. As such, jury trials become time hogs and judges may come to resent them.

    What This Means to You.

    The downside of this trend is that if a defendant forces his case to a jury trial, the judge could well hold it against that person at sentencing - if they lose. As an example, a case which might have settled for straight probation if concluded as part of a plea agreement, might cost the guilty defendant some jail, if not prison, after a jury trial. However, there is also a benefit to this judicial trend. Since judges hate jury trials, they are becoming more accepting of generous plea bargains. That is good for defendants.

    What Should You Do?

    If your case has the potential to go to trial, be smart and increase your chance of success by exercising your right to remain silent, and call the Rolloff Law Office at (612) 234-1165. Together, we can protect your future.