Friday, December 28, 2012

Minnesota Drug Possession (Explained)

Possession of drugs is a serious crime, regardless of how much or how little you are caught with. However, as a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I know the ways to get out of this. 

Possession of drugs can either be considered a felony or a gross misdemeanor offense depending on the amount in your possession and the circumstances surrounding the arrest. All drug crimes are tried in a separate Minnesota court and follow a different set of rules. It is important that you seek legal advice from an experienced Minneapolis drug crime attorney as soon as you are arrested or accused of any drug possession crime.


Here's a list of the possible charges the accused might face:

  • Possession of narcotics with the intent to sell
  • Possession of marijuana
  • Possession of narcotics
  • Possession of marijuana with the intent to sell
  • Possession of certain chemicals with the intent to manufacturer
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

The penalty one could incur depends on a number of factors including how much drugs he/she had had in their possession, what was the intent of having this drug and what drug(s) were they actually caught with. One's criminal record may also play a role in their punishment. If someone has been convicted of any drug crime in the past, then he/she could be looking at more severe penalties this time around.  Penalties for drug crimes include fines and fees, community service, drug rehabilitation in some instances and jail/prison time.

Those under the age of 18 can also be charged with drug possession under the Minnesota law. This would be considered a juvenile crime and tried in a separate court of law. However, a juvenile can still face fines, probation, and detention time and community service for possession of drugs.

What Should You do?

Even the tiniest joint or minuscule traces of cocaine can end up on your permanent record. Furthermore, if you are found in possession of scales, a pipe or plastic baggies, you could also be arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. The more drugs found in your possession, the worse your punishment will be, especially if there are suspicions that you were planning on selling the drugs. Possession of drugs for personal use is considered a lot less severe than possession of drugs with the intent to distribute. However, a crime is still a crime and will end up on your permanent record if convicted.

It is important to understand that just because you have been arrested for drug possession does not automatically make you a convicted criminal, or a bad person. There are a number of defense strategies to take when faced with a possession drug crime. If the drugs are not clearly in your possession (in your pocket), then there may be a case for mistaken identity. You could plead that the drugs found in your car or house were not yours. If the drugs were discovered during an illegal search and seizure that violated your right to privacy, then the evidence collected cannot be used against you.  Our firm will assess your case, gather evidence, consult with experts and determine the best defense tactics to take for your situation.

Don’t let one mistake ruin the rest of your life. The Rolloff Law Office is there when you need us most. It is important to act fast when facing an arrest and criminal conviction. I  can provide you with the aggressive representation and legal assistance you need to ensure the best outcome possible. Contact me today at (612) 234-1165.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

MN Assualt Chrges (Explained)

Assault is defined as the intentional use of violence and force on another person in order to cause bodily harm, or putting that person in fear of being harmed. There are many different types of assault crimes such as stalking, harassment, battery, assault with a deadly weapon, terrorist threats, sexual assault, child abuse and domestic assault. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it can be charged as either a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony offense. 

Domestic assault is the act of physically harming, threatening or harassing a family member such as a spouse or blood relative, someone with whom you live, a boyfriend, girlfriend, or domestic partner.

As a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I have worked on hundreds of cases like these.  As a former prosecutor, I can tell you they are tough for the state to prove; however, without a good lawyer by your side - you could be in for a heck of an uphill battle.  

Degrees of Assault

First Degree Assault: This crime is charged when the alleged victim is inflicted with great bodily harm or if the offense is committed against a peace officer.

Second Degree Assault: The defendant may be charged with this offense if a dangerous weapon is used in commission of the crime.

Third Degree Assault: This crime is charged when the defendant assaults another person and causes substantial bodily harm, or if the defendant is accused of assaulting a minor. It is a felony to assault a child under 4 years of age.

Fourth Degree Assault: This charge is a gross misdemeanor that results from assaulting a police officer, fire fighter, or emergency medical personnel in commission of their jobs.

Fifth Degree Assault: This crime can be charged when a person intentionally commits an act to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death to a victim, or if they intentionally inflict or attempt to inflict physical harm upon a victim.

The Consequences of Conviction - Criinal and otherwise

A conviction in an assault case can result in:

  • Imprisonment
  • Fines
  • Restitution
  • Anger management classes
  • Mandatory counseling
  • A restraining order
  • The loss of your rights to own and possess fire-arms --- forever!
  • Child custody problems (domestic assault)
There are various factors that will determine the harshness of the sentencing, including the severity of injuries resulting from the assault, the use of a deadly weapon such as a gun or knife in the assault (aggravated assault), and the person's prior criminal history.

What Should You do?

If you have been charged with assault, a knowledgeable law firm should be contacted immediately for assistance. Any type of assault case requires immediate intervention by a skilled lawyer who can protect your rights. The Rolloff Law Office offers highly skilled assistance with assault cases, including domestic assault. We are well-versed in assault laws and can provide the qualified and knowledgeable legal representation you will need when fighting domestic assault charges.  Want FREE ANSWERS? Call today: (612) 234-1165.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Difference Between a Misdemeanor & Felony (Explained)

As an affordable Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney I get lots of questions --- here is one of the most common: 

What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

In the State of Minnesota you can be charged with a petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony. With the exception of felony charges, the other criminal charge classifications dictate the maximum punishment a Minnesota court is allowed to impose upon a conviction. 

By contrast, felony charges, the most serious of criminal charges in Minnesota, are characterized as having a risk of imprisonment of at least one year and one day. Petty misdemeanors are the least serious of offenses charged in Minnesota, with no risk of jail.

Petty Misdemeanors are not a crime as the maximum punishment allowable by law is a $300 fine. Regardless of the nature of the petty misdemeanor, by definition, there is never any risk you will be subject to any jail sentence stemming from a conviction. Unlike more serious charges, there is no right to have a public defender appointed to represent you. Additionally, because a jail sentence is not allowable under the law, the verdict at a petty misdemeanor trial is decided by a judge, not a jury. Although petty misdemeanors are the least serious offense in Minnesota, a conviction is of public record, and accessible by employers, landlords, etc.

A Misdemeanor conviction in Minnesota carries a maximum punishment of 90 days of jail, or $1,000 fine, or both. Because there exists a risk of jail if convicted, you have a right to an attorney and to have your case decided by a jury of six of your peers if you are charged with a misdemeanor. Like all other convictions, you may be subject to collateral consequences above and beyond jail and/or fines as the conviction record is public.

Gross Misdemeanor convictions carry a maximum punishment of one year in jail, or a fine $3,000, or both

A Felony conviction carries at least one year and one day in prison, plus any associated fines. In addition to the prison sentence and fines resulting from a felony conviction, you will likely be subject to numerous other collateral consequences. For example, you may lose many important constitutional rights such as your 2nd Amendment firearms rights or your right to vote. Other consequences of a felony conviction include difficulty securing employment and housing. Although felonies are characterized by a sentence to prison of at least a year and a day, depending on your criminal history, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines oftentimes dictate that a prison sentence be stayed, conditioned on a successful probationary period and local confinement in a county jail or workhouse.

Bear in mind that, with exception of felonies, the punishments outlined above provide the maximum allowable jail and fines. However, even if you are convicted of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer like J. Rolloff to advocate on for you typically results in a sentence substantially less than the maximum allowable sentences or no jail at all. Contact the Rolloff Law Office ---  24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For flexible and affordable payment options, confidential and personal service, aggressive representation and a free initial consultation, Call today: (612) 234-1165.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Minnesota DWI Bails (Explained)

The term “bail” refers to money in an amount determined by a judge and based on certain facts in a given case that is sometimes one of the conditions of release that an individual facing criminal charges may have placed on him pending his next court appearance in a case.  There are some cases in which the accused is allowed to be released on his own recognizance, meaning he must simply remain law abiding and stay in contact with his Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney and make his or her next court appearance in order to be released.  Almost every cases in Minnesota involve conditions of release and/or bail. 

Minnesota law states that if a bail amount is set as a condition of release - the judge must set two bail amounts, one that is based on the individual keeping other conditions of release – like wearing an alcohol monitor – as well as an amount that is unconditional, and based on the individual not having to maintain any other conditions while released pending his or her next court appearance.  In some cases bail is Mandatory.

Mandatory Bail 

Minnesota Statute Section 169A.44 states that mandatory bail, imposed as either conditions of release plus a lesser amount of bail or as the maximum amount of bail and no conditions, must be imposed in order for a person to be released pending his or her next court appearance if any of the following facts apply to a Drunk Driving offense that is other than a fourth degree DWI; specifically cases where there was a BAC of over 0.20; there was a test refusal; there was a child under 16 present in the vehicle; or the DUI occurred while the person’s license was cancelled as inimical to public safety (IPS).   

Minnesota Statute Section 629.471 outlines the amount of bail that is the maximum a court can impose for any given charged crime in Minnesota.  Basically, this law states that, with a couple exceptions, a person charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, the maximum amount of bail that can be set is double whatever the highest cash fine that can be imposed for that offense is.  So, if a misdemeanor carries a maximum $1000 fine penalty, the maximum amount of bail that can be set for that offense is $2000. 

There are a few exceptions.  For misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors under Sections 169.09 (hit and run accidents), 169A.20 (DUI/DWI charges), 171.24 subdivision 5 (driving after cancellation, inimical to public safety), or 609.525 (transporting stolen goods into the state), the maximum amount of bail that can be set is four times the maximum cash fine penalty.  Also, for charges of assault, domestic assault, domestic abuse, or malicious punishment of a child, the maximum bail is six times the applicable fine. 

As for felony Drunk Driving charges, Minnesota Statute Section 629.471 specifically states that it does not apply.  The maximum cash fine penalty for a first degree, or felony, DWI is $14,000, according to Section 169A.24.  However, the maximum bail amount that can be set for a felony DWI is $12,000, just like for a gross misdemeanor DUI.  This is the amount the bail would be if there were no conditions of release accompanying the individual’s release pending his or her next court appearance in the case.

Unconditional and Conditional Bail Amounts and Degree of DUI Charge

 Anytime the bail amount imposed is less than the maximum, there will be conditions of release that apply.  If the circumstances in a Drunk Driving case that includes any of the following, the release conditions will almost always include the condition that the person agree to abstain from alcohol and to submit to remote electronic alcohol monitoring (REAM) involving at least daily breath-alcohol measurements.  These circumstances include: 

  • a third implied consent violation is ten years, 
  • a second violation if under age 19, 
  • a violation while cancelled as IPS, or 
  • a violation including a BAC of over 0.20.  

Also, if charged with the fourth or more DWI in a ten year period, a person will face additional conditions such as: impoundment of the vehicle registration plates, or impoundment of the off-road recreational vehicle or motorboat itself, if one was being driven; a requirement for reporting at least weekly to a probation officer, involving random breath alcohol testing and/or urinalysis; and a requirement to reimburse the court for these services upon conviction for the crime.

In sum, if you are charged with a second or first degree DUI/DWI, you will be subject to mandatory bail.  You and your Minnesota Criminal Lawyer will need to decide which combination of conditions of release and bail amount are in your best interests, based on the facts of your individual case and your current life circumstances.  Remember, that while the maximum bail amount applies if there are no conditions on someone’s release, which seems like it would be the most expensive option, sometimes the conditions of release that accompany the lower bail amount are more expensive – for example, the alco-sensor anklet can end up costing more over the course of the several months the criminal case takes to be resolved than posting the maximum bail amount may cost.

Getting your Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney involved as early on in your case as you can is the best thing you can do to protect your rights and ensure that if there are applicable bail arguments that could help you, those arguments are made at the appropriate time to the court on your behalf. Call the Rolloff Law Office today and get FREE Answers: (612) 234-1165.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Should I Do If I’m Stopped by the Police?

Here's a couple of easy answers to some hard questions about contact with the police from an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.  

I.  Do I Have To Answer Questions If I am Stopped by the Police?

No, you don’t, not under any circumstances. But note this twist that surprises some people: the safer you feel, the more likely you are to incriminate yourself.  So, what should I do if I am stopped by police?  I’ve discussed this before, but it merits fine tuning.

II. Am I Under Arrest?

If you are stopped by police and talk to them and you are free to leave—such as if you are not in a squad car or police station, or if you have been told you are not under arrest or are not a suspect in a crime—what you say to the police can be used against you without a prior Miranda warning or an opportunity to have your lawyer present.

III. If You are Under Arrest

Once you’re under arrest or “in custody,” the police cannot use what you say against you unless you have been Mirandized first and told that you have a right not to speak and to have an attorney present.   The basic distinction between whether you are or are not under arrest is whether you are free to leave.

But it is not illegal for the police to allow you to feel free to leave so you will talk to them–then they arrest you five minutes later.  (Trust me - It happens.)

IV. I Got a DWI. When Was I Under Arrest? What Should I Do?

Most of my clients tell me that they were not given their Miranda warning until long after they were stopped by  the police.  In a “typical” DWI, the suspect will be stopped, questioned in the car (“have you been drinking tonight?”), given field sobriety tests (heel-to-toe walk, follow the pen with your eyes), handcuffed, placed in the squad car, driven 20 minutes or so to a police station, and questioned some more before being Mirandized.  Anything you say during this process can and will be used against you even though you were not advised  of your right to remain silent or to have a lawyer, because you were not under arrest yet (even the handcuffs do not constitute arrest if the police say that the handcuffing was “for officer safety”).

V. Don’t talk to police without your lawyer present

This goes for individuals who are innocent.  Click HERE)

If you're reading this after the fact --- help can still be had.  Please call the Rolloff Law Office today to set up a free consultation: (612) 234-1165.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Affordable Attorneys (Explained)

Finding an affordable Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney can seem an impossible task, especially during tough economic times.  Unfortunately, this results in many "not-rich: individuals being unable to secure private counsel, which has a number of downsides.  Not the least of which is that the "free" lawyers --- the Public Defenders find themselves overworked, and those accused of crimes find themselves losing faith in the justice system.

Thankfully, there are lawyers, like the Rolloff Law Office, who employ technology (among other cost cutting means) to keep costs down, which should translate to lower overall rates.

First, I maintain an electronic filing system.  Cloud computing has helped lower the risk of data loss, and if files are maintained electronically the attorney can save money on paper, ink and storage.  Electronic files are also easier to search, access, and share.

Second, I use the new e-filing system currently being implemented in many Minnesota courts.  The courts are notoriously slow, and the costs of running government centers and courthouses is enormous.  As a way to save costs, many counties have begun an electronic filing initiative called “e-file.”  Filing court documents electronically will save paper and ink, and help with office management.

Finally, but certainly not least, is the effect of modernity (meaning, my office isn't  a palace --- or a shrine to my ego) Trust me, fancy art on the wall might make you think the lawyer has his sh*t together ... but how does that accomplish your goals.  Seriously, I get just as much done - without having to feed my ego.  Shoot, with a phone, computer, printer and fax machine, a lawyer can accomplish everything they need.

Not all firms are up to date.  Buyer beware: a higher price doesn't mean a better result.  Higher fees might simply be the cost of antiquated methods rather than quality representation.

What Should You Do?

Get the most for your money.  Call today: Rolloff Law (612) 234-1165.  Free consultations... and agressive affordable legal representation.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fight an Order for Protection/Harassment Order (Explained)

Orders for protection, or restraining orders, are typically issued to prevent further abuse, stalking, or domestic violence. Orders for protection require the person to stay a designated number of feet away from the person filing the order. They may also include additional provisions. If you have no idea what I;ve just set-forth here, you may need a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney to assist you.  

Minnesota Restraining Orders

Minnesota restraining orders (order for protection) may be for a short amount of time or last up to two years. Once filed a restraining order prohibits any contact to be made with the person who filed the order. During divorce cases restraining orders can be extremely difficult and painful, especially when children are involved. Restraining orders may also keep a person away from their home during a divorce case.

Although restraining orders are designed to keep citizens safe from abuse and harassment, they may also be filed out of revenge or punishment. If this is the case the restraining order must be fought immediately with force in order to resolve the situation. 

Minneapolis Personal Protection Order Attorney

If a spouse, family member, or other person has filed a restraining order against you that is unjust contact the Rolloff Law Office today. I understand that divorce cases, family matters, and other situations become complicated and emotional. This does not excuse orders for protection filed out of revenge or punishment, and I'm dedicated to fighting them to the fullest extent.  Free Consultations: (612) 234-1165.