Thursday, June 28, 2012
In many instances, a traffic infraction will result in a ticket and a mark on your driving record. All to many individuals will simply pay the ticket and forget about the implications. However, the reality is that every traffic violation you commit can result in more than just a note on your driving record. You are also looking at higher insurance fees - on top of the fines and penalties. Additionally, traffic violations can add up to misdemeanor (and even gross misdemeanor) offenses. You may not only be looking at a poor driving record but also heavy fines, jail time, license revocation, vehicle impoundment and anger management classes.
As a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I'm asked on a daily basis about what to do about tickets. Here are some ideas and suggestions:
SPEEDING AND RECKLESS DRIVING ARRESTS
Speed limit violations, speeding in a construction zone or school zone, reckless driving, erratic lane changes and "road rage" can all be classified as traffic violations. You will most likely be handed a ticket by the arresting officer. In some instances, you may be ordered to attend anger management courses or you may lose your license. It is possible to fight these charges, especially if the ticket was given on unjust grounds.
HIT AND RUN VIOLATIONS
Hit and run violations can be classified as a felony offense in certain instances which is why it is imperative to seek legal counsel as soon as you are accused of being involved in a hit and run case. If you are accused of a hit and run, you are innocent until enough evidence has been collected to prove you are guilty. (Beware - if you're found guilty you can have your license taken away.)
DRIVING WITHOUT A LICENSE VIOLATIONS
If your license has been revoked or suspended or if you are caught driving without adequate insurance, then you will most likely lose your license for even longer and be facing further penalties and fines. It is possible to fight back against these convictions with the right legal defense. (Even if you're "guilty" - an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney can help negotiate an outcome that preserves your driving privilege.)
Honestly, traffic violation cases can be a huge pain in the neck --- because who among us can afford to lose our license or have our vehicle impounded due to a few outstanding traffic violation tickets? This is why it is so important to fight back against traffic violations before they negatively impact your finances and your transportation freedom. The Rolloff Law Office handles all manner of traffic violation cases, both inside and outside the court, and can provide you and your family with the aggressive representation, dedicated legal assistance and a sound defense that will make all the difference to your case. Call today to set up a FREE consultation: (612) 234-1165.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
If you have been arrested or cited for petty theft (ie., shoplifting) - you may think the situation is bad. Don’t just give up and assume there is nothing to do. You’re facing a possible theft charge that can have devastating effects on your future.
What Can Be Done?
In a shoplifting case, like any other, I, as a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, look at a case from three ways:
I. Do you have any factual defenses?
Assuming everything in the police reports is true and accurate, does it all add up to the elements of the charge you’re accused of? If you’re charged with theft, can they prove that you had the specific intent to steal? How can they overcome whether or not it was an accident or mistake on your part? If you’re charged with burglary, can they prove you had the intent to steal before you entered the store? I know they’re subtle distinctions, but they are necessary elements of the crime the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. From there, we know that the reports are not always 100% accurate.
II. What in the report doesn’t add up?
Are the times, sequences or witness statements conflicting with each other? Are there obvious errors in what happened that can be easily torn apart? When I consult with my clients, we review the facts of the case down to the smallest detail to see where the gaps in the case are.
III. Do you have any legal defenses?
Because most shoplifting cases involve a “private person’s arrest” (sometimes called a “citizen’s arrest”) by the store personnel, they are not necessarily under the same rules as the police. Under the laws of the State of minnesota, they do have a right to detain a person they suspect of shoplifting. If they search you, they don’t have to have a warrant or probable cause like the police do. But that doesn’t mean that they can do whatever they want. The store loss prevention officers (a.k.a. security) must still act within the law and appropriately. I have had cases where the loss prevention agents spied into dressing rooms - a clear violation of criminal law. This can absolutely be used to our advantage in your defense. Similarly, if the store security guards used excessive force, that can lead to a tremendous advantage to you either in negotiating your case or fighting it at trial. From there, the actions by the police - Miranda warnings, searches or other police procedures can factor into how to defend your case.
If the facts and the law are against you, how can I best protect you?
Assuming the facts and the law are stacking up against you, what can be done? Often, there can be alternative dispositions worked out, hopefully to avoid a conviction for a misdemeanor theft offense. Diversion, deferred entry of judgment, reduction to a misdemeanor or non-theft related charge are all potential outcomes. Every case is unique, but by working together well before your court date, there are things you can do to help get me in the best possible position for a good outcome in your case when I go to court on your behalf.
If you or someone you love needs legal help - with a Shoplifting or Theft case - call the Rolloff Law Office today: (612) 234-1165. Don’t wait until the last minute before you are due to appear in court. Give me a call and we can discuss the details and where we’re headed with your case.
Monday, June 25, 2012
As a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I get a lot of calls related to a traffic violation of one type of another. Some of those calls are regarding more serious charges like Drunk Drivings and Careless or Reckless driving, but the vast majority reference smaller infractions, such as Speeding tickets and Stop Sign violations. One of the questions people ask first is whether or not they really need a lawyer to help them deal with a traffic violation. I'll try to give some straight forward and honest answers to this question and hopefully help people better understand what a Minnesota traffic attorney can do for them when faced with this type of issue.
Can a Lawyer Really Help
If you have been charged with a traffic violation that doubles as a misdemeanor charge (such as DWI, careless/reckless driving, hit-and-run, etc...), you definitely should look to hire a Minnesota Traffic Attorney. Misdemeanor charges can carry with them a penalty of up to $1000 and 90 days in jail. These types of offenses can also result in license suspensions or revocations, as well. When you're dealing with penalties this severe, there is no "savings" to be realized by avoiding hiring an attorney. Call a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney and get some answers before you move forward in your case. It'll be well worth your investment.
As for more minor "petty misdemeanor" tickets, whether or not you really need an attorney depends greatly on your circumstances. There are only a couple of situations that I encounter where I recommend people hire an attorney to handle their petty misdemeanor traffic cases. One situation is when the accused has multiple traffic violations on their record, and adding another would hinder their ability to hold car insurance. The other is when someone uses their license to earn a living. Let's look at both of those situations separately.
If you've been saddled with a bunch of tickets in the past 5 years, chances are you've seen an increase in your insurance premiums. If you continue to pile up tickets, it's possible for your insurance company to deny you further coverage, meaning that you could be out in the cold and be unable to operate your vehicle. If you are at the breaking point with your insurance (or simply can't afford any more premium increases), having a Minnesota traffic attorney work with you on your case could help you get the ticket lowered to a reduced charge, at the very least. If you have reason to believe that you were wrongly issued a citation, an attorney can help you fight said ticket in the courts and get you the best deal possible. By reducing your ticket (or getting it dismissed altogether), a Minnesota Traffic Attorney can help you keep your insurance premiums consistent, saving you thousands of dollars in the process.
What Can Be Gained?
If you are someone who uses their license to earn a living, having a Minnesota traffic attorney could help your cause quite a bit, as well. Truck drivers, taxi drivers, mail carriers, delivery drivers, and heavy equipment operators all have a vested stake in keeping their license clean. Tickets can cost you your job, safety bonuses, or the opportunity to find a higher paying position in the future. A Minnesota traffic attorney can analyze your case to determine whether there are any aspects of your situation that can be challenged. If no such elements exist, a dedicated attorney can still help you negotiate a deal with prosecution that can lessen the charge you are convicted of and help keep your license pristine. If you're family depends on you keeping a clean license to survive financially, take the time to speak with an attorney to see what options you have.
If you find yourself the recipient of a basic speeding ticket/stop sign ticket/red light ticket, you've got a couple different options.
First, you can choose to pay the ticket online/over the phone/in the mail. You'll be pleading guilty to the charge on the ticket, but you'll eliminate the chances of having to pay any late fees or penalties for neglecting to pay the ticket. For all intents and purposes, that ticket will be on your record for five years. If you receive no further tickets during that period, it's unlikely that your insurance will be effected (assuming you weren't going 40 over the limit). For most people, this option is easiest, as it doesn't require you to take a morning off work and go down to the courthouse.
Your second option is to appear for your court date and attempt to challenge the ticket. Often, the citation you receive will have a court date printed on the ticket. If it doesn't, there will be a phone number for you to call to get one. The benefit to taking this path to dealing with your ticket is that prosecutors tend to be willing to negotiate with people who show up.
If you choose option #2 --- a lawyer can help. Often, he/she knows what to say and how to say it --- this could save you a trip to court and earn you the outcome you're seeking. If you need to know more about how to fight you Minnesota Traffic Ticket - call the Rolloff Law Office today to set up a FREE CONSULTATION: (612) 234-1165. (Honestly, the money you spend on an attorney could actually save moeny on costly insurance premiums in the future.)
Saturday, June 23, 2012
If you have been charged with an Assault crime in Minnesota you may be concerned that you could be facing serious consequences - like jail and a large fine. Understanding that, as an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I know the kind of stress this can cause and I will fight for you as you face the prosecutor, the judge --- and the jury.
Felony Assault charges can result in very severe penalties and jail time. Shoot, even the least serious Assault charge - 5th degree misdemeanor Assault - can result in real fines, possible jail time, and a permanent criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life.
There may be a perfectly logical explanation to your behavior the night of the incident. You were acting in self defense, or it was a mutual disagreement that escalated. These kinds of sloppy arrests happen all the time, unfortunately. But now you have a complicated criminal legal problem you need to sort out.
Or maybe you made a made a mistake you now regret. We are interested in learning what exactly led up to your charge.
Having successfully defended many assault cases like yours in Minnesota, I know what you are up against. I know the Minnesota criminal courts - from the prosecution side and the defense side - and I can put that knowledge to work for you.
Minnesota Assault Laws & Penalties
First Degree Assault
If you commit Assault that causes great bodily harm to someone you may be charged with this serious felony. “Great bodily harm” is defined as injury which causes substantial risk of death or causes disfigurement or loss or loss of use of any organ or bodily member.
Second Degree Assault
You may be charged with 2nd degree Assault if you assault someone with a dangerous weapon. If the alleged victim suffers “substantial bodily harm” you will face a potential sentence of up to 10 years and fines of $20,000. However, if there is not “substantial bodily harm”, the potential sentence is dropped to up to 7 years in prison and $14,000 in fines.
Third Degree Assault
There are three ways in which 3rd degree Assault can be committed. If you do any of the following you could face this serious felony charges:
- Assault resulting in substantial bodily harm
- Assault on a minor where there is a history of abusive behavior
- Assault on a victim under 4 years of age
Fourth Degree Assault
You may face 4th degree Assault charges if you assault certain people. For instance, Assault on a police officer in the line of duty, school officials, corrections officers, firefighters, or an EMT can also land you with a 4th degree assault charge.
Also, if you assault someone because of bias in regards to their religion, race, sexual preference, or disability you could also face gross misdemeanor charges.
Fifth Degree Assault
You may be charged with misdemeanor 5th degree Assault (and face up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine or both) if you commit an act with intent to cause fear of bodily harm or death or if you intentionally inflict or attempt to inflict bodily harm on another.
Get Your Free Consultation
Facing prison terms and hefty fines can leave you with a lot on your mind. The only way to know for certain what you are facing is to consult with an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney. Call the Rolloff Law Office at (612) 234-1165 to set up a FREE consultation on your Assault case today.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
The optimal result for a person charged with a crime obviously is a dismissal of the charges or a finding of not guilty by a judge or jury. Oftentimes, however, the goverment’s case is strong, or the accused simply wishes not to have a trial. In these instances an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney can play a pivotal role in limiting the impact that the resolution has on you.
Set forth here are some of the types of outcomes that an attorney can help you reach.
Certification as a Petty Misdemeanor
The defense attorney may negotiate a deal with the prosecutor where the offense is treated as a petty misdemeanor and then you will not have a conviction on your record.
The length of the sentence dictates whether the crime is treated as a felony or gross misdemeanor. Therefore, a defense attorney could negotiate a deal where a person charged with a felony pleads guilty, but is sentenced to a year or less in jail. The conviction is therefore treated as a gross misdemeanor.
Stay of Adjudication
Under a stay of adjudication, the defendant admits to facts in court that support a criminal conviction, but the judge withholds finding the defendant guilty for a period of time on the condition that the person has no same or similar offenses and complies with conditions imposed by the court. If the person successfully completes the probationary term, the charges are dismissed and the plea of guilty is vacated.
Continuance Without Prosecution ("CWOP")
In a continuance without prosecution, the charges against a defendant will be dismissed after a certain period of time provided the defendant pays prosecution costs and is charged with no same or similar offenses. (CWOPs are similar to a stay of adjudication except that there typically is not an admission of fact on the record.)
Stay of Imposition
If you plead guilty or found guilty and the judges stays imposition of the sentence, a felony conviction may be dismissed and reduced to a misdemeanor offense if the defendant complies with terms of probation.
Stay of Execution
Execution of a portion or all of a sentence may be suspended for a period of time if the defendant complies with the terms of probation.
Certain county attorney offices have diversion programs that allow a defendant to avoid a conviction if they agree to participate and comply with program terms.
The Next Best Step
There is no guarantee that your case will be resolved in the fashion described above. But, The Rolloff Law Office can help to put you or someone you love in a far better position to broker such an arrangement. Contact us today - (612) 234-1165 - to learn all of your options and how we can help you obtain a result that works for you.
Monday, June 18, 2012
With summer in full-effect, it’s important for those of you who are out to have fun on the water make sure you're aware that the police will be out in force watching for any signs of intoxication.
As more people head to the water for fun, law enforcement officials will be out actively searching for those who are BWI - Boating While Intoxicated. If you or someone you love find themselves as part of an investigation into Drunk Boating, your next best step is to call an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.
What You Need to Know
If you're a real Minnesotan you know that drinking and outdoor activities may go hand in hand for some. However, you need to be aware that a BWI arrest is serious. Boating while intoxicated is generally treated the same as Drunk Driving. If a boater is found to have a BAC of .08 or more, they will be arrested and taken to jail. If the boater has a prior DWI/BWI conviction, the boater could also lose his or her driving privileges, both on land and on water.
If you’re convicted of a BWI, the offense could potentially appear on your motor vehicle record just like a DWI conviction. Even a first-time BWI charge, without a prior DWI conviction or designated license revocation, could result in severe penalties including substantial fines, loss of your boat operating privileges and potentially even jail time.
For those arrested for a second or third time, penalties will enhance for a repeat offender and can include automatic jail time and even loss of the boat you were driving at the time of the arrest.
The dangers of drinking and boating are as serious as drinking and driving a car. The fact is alcohol consumption while boating can be even more dangerous given that most boaters are less experienced on the water than on pavement. Most weekend boat operators are out driving a handful of times each year and are thus already more prone to dangerous accidents. Throw in alcohol consumption, and it can be a recipe for disaster. As further evidence of the danger, one statistic says that a intoxicated boater is 10 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than his sober counterpart.
Tips to Avoid Getting Arrested for a BWI
- Designate a sober boat captain prior to getting out on the water.
- Bring a variety of drinks including plenty of water, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages.
- Don’t assume that just because you are also eating on the boat that this somehow will reduce your level of intoxication. Remember, the best policy is to not drink alcohol at all, if you are going to be the one driving or operating the boat.
- If you dock somewhere to get lunch or dinner and drink with your food, again make sure you’ve previously designated a sober driver that can operate and bring the boat home.
If you’re facing a possible BWI charge, you need a skilled Minnesota BWI Attorney on your side. For quick, fast and honest answers, call the Rolloff Law Office at (612) 234-1165.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
DAC-IPS = Driving After Cancelation - Inimical to Public Safety
In Minnesota, a driver is declared inimical to public safety often after their third DWI offense. Inimical to public safety essentially means “completely unable to control a vehicle without endangering others.” Drivers must go through a difficult and prolonged chemical dependency treatment in order to have their driving privileges reinstated. In addition, that renewed license will be subject to a B-Card restriction — meaning any use of alcohol by the driver will invalidate his or her license, even if they aren’t driving when discovered to be drinking. If there is a violation, there are subsequent rehabilitation periods that can last several years depending upon the number of DWI’s the driver has. Rehabilitation will require complete abstinence, affidavits from people who can attest to the same, and a lot of time devoted to dependency groups.
Why is the State doing this? The State has recognized that it is impossible to get people to stop drinking, even if they know they have a problem and want to stop it. So the State simply assumes that people with alcohol addiction are always driving intoxicated. The remaining option is to take away the driver’s license, or at least make it very difficult to keep while still suffering from the effects of alcohol. 1 in 7 Minnesotans has a DWI. Of the people who get a first, only 10% get a second. But of the people who get a second, 60% get a third. The State has thrown the repeat offenders into very specific grouping as a way to identify and keep track of this specific population.
Nearly every client of an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney says the same thing — they can handle the criminal consequences of DWI, but it’s the license sanctions that are the real punishment. Try not driving for six years and see how easy it isn’t. If you have been charged with a DAC-IPS offense, there are ways to reduce the impact and potentially maintain your license — but you must talk with an attorney in order to find out if these options are available to you.
If you want help with a criminal case, call the Rolloff Law Office - today - at (612) 234-1165
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer. A good criminal defense lawyer can explain your rights in all stages of the criminal process and help make the difference between a reduced plea bargain or dismissal and a jail sentence.
What You Really Need to Know
Being charged with a crime -- whether major or minor -- is a serious matter. A person facing criminal charges risks severe penalties and consequences, such as jail time, having a criminal record, and loss of relationships and future job prospects, among other things. While some legal matters can be handled alone, a criminal arrest of any nature warrants the legal advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case.
If you're facing criminal prosecution, a criminal defense attorney can help you understand (1) the nature of the charges filed; (2) any available defenses; (3) what plea bargains are likely to be offered; and (4) what is expected after trial or conviction.
What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Criminal defense attorneys handle a variety of criminal cases, including felonies, misdemeanors, drug charges, white collar crimes, and many other state and federal crimes. When looking for a criminal defense lawyer, you'll want to find the best one for your case. As such, you should concentrate on the lawyer's expertise, skill level, and knowledge.
A good criminal defense lawyer may help (1) reduce your criminal charge to a lesser offense (for example, reduce a felony to a misdemeanor); (2) lessen the severity of the punishment for the crime; and (3) reduce or eliminate jail time (via probation, for example); and (4) help you develop a sound defense strategy.
Also, because of the nature of what's at stake, it's important that the attorney you hire has the necessary skill level needed to defend the case, and is the one who actually conducts most of the work. For instance, you may need someone familiar with crime scene investigations, witness/victim/police interviewing, and/or extensive knowledge of polygraphs, sketches, photographs, and video.
Finally, because criminal laws and penalties vary by state, it's important that the attorney have experience with the state and local rules of court.
How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer
There are numerous ways to find a criminal defense lawyer. Referrals from friends and family or online research may be a good start. However, in many instances, a person facing criminal charges may not wish to publicize the news of his or her arrest to extended family members and friends or may not have unlimited time to research online. As such, you may wish to find a local criminal defense lawyer using one of several quality-assured lawyer directories, such as FindLaw, devoted to connecting you to an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area.
Before selecting a criminal defense lawyer, you should feel comfortable enough speaking with him or her concerning all aspects of your criminal charge. Below are some of the questions you should ask:
The cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer will vary depending on a number of factors, including the attorney's experience, reputation, track record, and geographical location. Most criminal defense attorneys bill their time either hourly, or by a flat fee arrangement. Depending on the fee arrangement, some attorneys may allow you to get on a payment plan to handle ongoing charges. Others may require an upfront retainer fee before working on the case. In all cases, it is wise to consult with a variety of criminal defense lawyers in your area to find one you feel comfortable with in representing you and get a sense of the cost involved in representing your case.
You have questions - right? Call and get FREE answers now - (612) 619-0262. The Rolloff Law Office - if we can't help you - will set you off in the right direction. Don't believe it - call and find out.
What You Really Need to Know
Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer
- Do you have any experience handling cases similar to mine?
- How much of my criminal case will you actually handle?
- How many jury trials have you litigated?
- How often do you work out plea agreements or ask for a lesser charge?
- What are your attorney's fees, and how are they calculated? Do you offer a payment plan?
- Would you be willing to provide references from clients you've helped?
You have questions - right? Call and get FREE answers now - (612) 619-0262. The Rolloff Law Office - if we can't help you - will set you off in the right direction. Don't believe it - call and find out.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
As a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney I get questions --- lots and lots of questions. Here's one -about outcomes to criminal cases -- arranged from "best" to worst.
What are Some of the Different Types of Minnesota Criminal Sentences?
- Continuance for Dismissal/Continuance without Prosecution (CFD/CWOP): The state sets aside your case for a predetermined amount of time, and they dismiss the case after that period of time if you fulfill their conditions.
- Stay of Adjudication: The defendant 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 defendant 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: The defendant offers a guilty plea which the court accepts. The defendant is then placed on probation, with certain (or all) terms of the sentence are stayed (not given). For example, someone who is sentence to 45 days in jail “stayed” would not have to go to jail if they successfully fulfill the terms of their probation.
- Execution of Sentence: The defendant offers a guilty plea which the court accepts, and the sentence is imposed without any terms stayed. For example, someone who is sentenced to 30 days jail “executed” would actually have to serve that jail time.
Want to Know More?
Obviously, there's more to what goes on in court that can be set forth here. If you have any questions about Sentences --- or anything related to your dilemma --- call the Rolloff Law Office today and set up an apointment for a Free Consultation: (612) 234-1165.
Monday, June 4, 2012
The laws of the State of Minnesota allows individuals to expunge their criminal records in certain limited circumstances.
There are two types of criminal record expungement: “statutory expungment” and “inherent authority expungement.” To get the total lowdown on an expungement, you should sit down a have a free consultation with a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.
Statutory Criminal Record Expungement
Statutory expungement in Minnesota is available (only) in certain limited circumstances, specifically: (a.) when someone has had certain controlled substance offenses dismissed and discharged; (b.) for certain juveniles prosecuted as adults; and (c.) for certain criminal proceedings not resulting in conviction. For people that do not qualify for statutory expungement, there may be other options available, such as inherent authority expungement.
An individual that qualifies for statutory expungement and wants to proceed with the expungement process must formally petition the court. If the expungement petition is successful, the court will issue an order sealing the criminal records and prohibiting their disclosure to the public except in certain limited circumstances. The expungement order, however, does not destroy the criminal records, and the records are not returned.
Inherent Authority Criminal Record Expungement
Inherent authority criminal record expungement in Minnesota is available to certain individuals that do not qualify for statutory criminal record expungement—individuals that were convicted of a crime through a guilty verdict (as the result of a jury or bench trial) or a guilty plea. This includes individuals who were convicted of a crime and received a stay of imposition of sentence or a stay of adjudication of sentence.
An individual that qualifies for inherent authority criminal record expungement and wants to proceed with the expungement process must formally petition the court. The petition includes such information as the crime sought to be expunged; the petitioner’s entire criminal record; and the reasons the petitioner is seeking expungement (e.g. for employment or housing purposes).
A hearing will take place after the expungement petition is filed with the court. At the hearing the court will hear arguments from the petitioner; the state; and will also hear a statement from victim(s) of the crime sought to be expunged (if applicable).
After the expungement hearing the court will consider the petitioner’s argument; the state’s argument; and the victim’s statement (if one was provided). The court analyzes several different factors when considering whether or not to grant expungement—including, but not limited to, the severity level of the crime sought to be expunged and steps the petitioner has taken to rehabilitate themselves since the conviction.
The court will either grant or deny the expungement after taking into consideration the above-stated parties’ arguments. If the court grants the expungement the court will issue an order sealing the criminal records and prohibiting their disclosure to the public except under certain limited circumstances. The expungement order, however, does not destroy the criminal records, and the records are not returned.
What To Do Next
The Rolloff Law Office offers a free consultations asa courtesy to potential clients. This evaluation will help determine whether potential clients may be eligible for criminal record expungement, pardon extraordinary, and/or return of arrest records. The information you provide for the free evaluation is kept strictly confidential and used only for the purposes of the evaluation. Call today and request an appointment: (612) 619-0262.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Drunk Driving arrests in Minnesota frequently begin with a traffic stop made by a police officer or state patrol trooper. After the stop there is generally a sequence of actions taken by the officer if they suspect the driver has violated Minnesota's DWI law.
There are of course, legal and illegal (constitutional and unconstitutional) ways of both initiating a traffic stop and conducting subsequent questioning, testing, etc. The following is a brief overview of the constitutional issues surrounding typical DWI traffic stop in Minnesota.
If you have any questions about this, your next best step is to contact an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.
The Traffic Stop
An officer can make a brief investigatory traffic stop without violating the constitutional prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures” if they have “reasonable, articulable suspicion” of criminal activity. An officer’s observation of a traffic violation, even if insignificant, can provide the officer with an objective and reasonable basis to make a legal traffic stop.
Typical traffic violations which provide a basis for a stop include speeding, not signaling a lane change, and equipment violations.
After an officer has made an initial stop, they generally ask the driver a series of questions (e.g. “Are you aware of why I pulled you over?”) and request a driver’s license/identification and vehicle registration information
Field Sobriety Testing (FST)
During the initial questioning in a Minnesota DWI traffic stop, the officer will often make observations of alcohol use and/or intoxication. These observations frequently include slurred speech, glassy/watery eyes, (strong) odor of alcohol, slow reaction time, and the driver admitting alcohol use prior to driving. If the officer does make these observations, they can provide the basis (reasonable, articulable suspicion that the driver has violated the DWI law) to legally conduct a series of field sobriety tests. The standard field sobriety tests (SFST) include a series of three tests: the walk and turn test (WAT); the one leg stand (balance) test (OLS); and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN). There are also non-standardized field sobriety tests that the officer may have the driver perform including: the Romberg (Balance) Test; counting backwards; reciting the alphabet etc. Failure of the field sobriety tests can be used by the officer to establish probable cause to arrest the driver for DWI. (In various areas throughout this blog, I;ve reported on these "tests" --- if I could make one suggestion --- don't agree to perform these tests!)
Portable Breath Test (PBT)
The officer will typically request a portable breathalyzer test (PBT) from the driver if they fail the field sobriety tests. The legal basis to request the PBT, however, is the same as for the request for field sobriety testing: “reasonable, articulable suspicicion” that the driver has violated Minnesota DWI law. This can include the failure of one or more of the field sobriety tests, admissions from the driver of alcohol use, and/or other observations of possible alcohol use and/or intoxication (e.g. glassy eyes, strong odor of alcohol etc.). In addition, like the field sobriety tests, a PBT failure can be used by the officer to establish probable cause to arrest a driver for DWI. (Like with the FSTs ... don't agree to take this test!)
An officer must have probable cause to make a legal arrest of a driver for DWI. Probable cause in Minnesota exists if a person of ordinary care and prudence holds an “honest and strong” suspicion that arrested party is guilty of a crime. Probable cause is more than mere suspicion. The officer can establish probable cause to make a legal arrest with a combination of observations of alcohol use and/or intoxication, statements by the driver indicating alcohol use and/or intoxication, failure of one or more of the field sobriety tests, and/or failure of the PBT test.
What Can Be Done About Illegal Conduct?
The constitution protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures. The remedy for an illegal search and seizure is suppression of the evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search and seizure.
In a typical DWI case as described above, therefore, if the officer illegally made the initial traffic stop or otherwise illegally conducted the questioning, testing and/or arrest, the driver can move the court to suppress evidence that was obtained as a result of that illegal search or seizure. In Minnesota, this is done at what is know as a “Rasmussen Hearing.” If the Motion for suppression is granted, the prosecution cannot use the illegally obtained evidence at trial. This can obviously have a huge impact on the case. A very positive impact for the defense, and very negative impact for the prosecution. In fact, the prosecution may dismiss the case and/or offer a very favorable plea agreement in the event of suppression.
If you or someone you love needs help with a legal issue - like a Minnesota DWI --- call The Rolloff Law Office to set up a FREE CONSULTATION today. Call (612) 234-1165.
Friday, June 1, 2012
The Minnesota Implied Consent Law requires that anyone who “drives, operates, or is in physical control” of a motor vehicle in Minnesota consents to be subject to Minnesota's Drunk Driving Law and the Implied Consent Law. The Implied Consent Law further requires a person to submit to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine (or face a criminal charge for test refusal) when a peace officer has probable cause to believe the person has violated Minnesota DWI law (and other specific circumstances exist). If this sounds even remotely confusing, consider consulting an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney - please.
The purpose of the chemical test is to determine the presence of alcohol, a controlled substance or its metabolite, or a hazardous substance, and the test must be given at the direction of a peace officer (e.g. a police officer).
When a Chemical Test Can Be Requested
A peace officer has the option of requesting a chemical test when they have probable cause to believe a person was driving, operating, or in physical control of a motor vehicle in violation of the DWI law, and at least one of the following conditions exist:
- the person has been lawfully placed under arrest for violation of Minnesota’s DWI law (or an ordinance in conformity with it);
- the person has been involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in property damage, personal injury, or death;
- the person has refused to take the screening test (preliminary screening test/portable breath test (PBT)); or
- the screening test was administered and indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
The test may also be required of a person when a peace officer has probable cause to believe the person was driving, operating, or in physical control of a commercial motor vehicle with the presence of any alcohol.
Implied Consent Advisory
The Implied Consent Advisory is a provision of Minnesota’s Implied Consent Law which requires the peace officer to inform the suspect of the following before requesting a chemical test submission:
- Minnesota law requires the person to take the test:
- to determine if the person is under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or hazardous substances;
- to determine the presence of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II or metabolite, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols; and
- if the motor vehicle was a commercial motor vehicle, to determine the presence of alcohol;
- that refusal to take a test is a crime;
- if the peace officer has probable cause to believe the person has violated the criminal vehicular homicide and injury laws, that a test will be taken with or without the person’s consent;
- that the person has the right to consult with an attorney, but that this right is limited to the extent that it cannot unreasonably delay administration of the test.
The Test Refusal Crime & Administrative Penalties
It is a crime in Minnesota to refuse to submit to a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine under the Implied Consent Law. The criminal penalties depend on the unique circumstances of the case and the prior record of the defendant. As an example, a typical first-time DWI offender who is charged with test refusal is subject to a gross misdemeanor level offense (up to one year in jail and/or up to a $3,000 fine).
In addition to the criminal penalties associated with the Implied Consent Law & Test Refusal Crime, there are also significant administrative penalties.
Test Refusal Penalties
There are significant administrative penalties (e.g. license revocation) which apply to test refusal under the Implied Consent Law (i.e. when a peace officer has probable cause to believe a suspect has violated the DWI law and they refuse to submit to a chemical test).
Specifically, a peace officer can immediately serve a notice of intention to revoke/revocation on a suspect on behalf of the Commissioner of Public Safety upon test refusal, and also must take the following steps:
- invalidate the person’s driver’s license or permit card by clipping the upper corner of the card in such a way that no identifying information including the photo is destroyed, and immediately return the card to the person;
- issue the person a temporary license effective for only seven days; and
- send the notification of this action to the commissioner along with the required certificate.
The period of license revocation and/or other administrative penalties depends on the unique circumstances of the case and the record of the offender. As an example, the period of license revocation is one year for a first-time test refusal offender.
Test Refusal Criminal Conviction Penalties
In addition to the administrative penalties for test refusal under the Implied Consent Law, there are also administrative penalties (e.g. license revocation) which result from a test refusal criminal conviction.
The period of license revocation and/or other administrative penalties depends on the unique circumstances of the case and the record of the offender. As an example, the period of license revocation is 90 days for a first-time test refusal offender.
To fully understand your options, please take the time to speak with an experienced lawyer. The Rolloff Law Office has handled any and all sorts of criminal matters --- DWIs and otherwise. Call today to set up a FREE CONSULTATION: (612) 234-1165