Thursday, August 22, 2013

Minnesota Theft Crimes (Explained)

The laws of the State of Minnesota list a number of specific actions that, when committed, would constitute the offense of theft. To get to the bottom of this - read on - and consider calling an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.

Theft (Defined)

A person commits theft under Minnesota law when he or she: intentionally takes, uses, transfers, conceals or retains possession of property belonging to another, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property

obtains possession, custody, or title to property or services by intentionally deceiving another person with a false representation files a false medical claim, finds lost property but makes no reasonable attempt to restore it to its owner
leases or rents personal property but fails to return the property or pay for the property, intentionally deprives another of a lawful charge for cable television or telecommunications service, or, takes or drives a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 609.52 Subd. 2.)

Classification of Theft Offenses and Penalties in Minnesota

Like many other states, Minnesota classifies theft offenses according to the dollar value of the property or services taken (and sometimes according to the type of property). 

Property Valued at Less than $500

The lowest level theft offense in Minnesota -- often called petty theft -- occurs when the value of the property or services stolen is $500 or less. A person who commits theft at this level will receive a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 90 days and/or a fine of not more than $1,000. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 609.52 Subd. 3(5).)

$500 to $1,000

If the value of the property or services is more than $500 but not more than $1,000, a theft offense is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than one year, or a fine of not more than $3,000, or both. (§ 609.52 Subd. 3(4).)

$1,000 to $5,000

When the value of the property or services stolen is more than $1,000 but not more than $5,000, a theft offense is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of no more than five years, or a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. 

Theft offenses at this level also include:

  • theft of a Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance
  • theft when the value of the property or services stolen is more than $500 but not more than $1,000, and the person has a conviction of a similar offense within the preceding five years, either in Minnesota or elsewhere, or
  • the property stolen is not worth more than $1,000, and is taken from a corpse, grave, or coffin; or is a public or court record; is taken during a riot or disaster; or is a motor vehicle. or court record. (§ 609.52 Subd. 3(3).)

More than $5,000

Where the dollar value of property or services stolen is more than $5,000, the offense is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 10 years, or a fine of not more than $20,000, or both. Theft offenses at this level also include: theft of a trade secret, theft of an explosive or incendiary device, or, theft of a Schedule I or II controlled substance, other than marijuana. (§ 609.52 Subd. 3(2).)

More than $35,000

Finally, the most serious form of theft under Minnesota law is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 20 years, or a fine of $100,000, or both. Theft offenses at this level include: theft of property or services valued at more than $35,000 when certain aggravating circumstances exist, which include fraud, deceit, or a vulnerable adult victim, or theft of a firearm of any value (§ 609.52 Subd. 3(1).)

For more information on how to defend yourself - even if you think you're guilty of Theft --- perform your own legal research or call the Rolloff Law Office to set up a FREE consultation  (612) 234-1165.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

What Will Happen in Court (Explained)

I understand that the optimal result for anyone charged with a crime is to see it dismissed or in the alternative to have a judge or jury find them not guilty.  However, there are those times - whether it's that the State's case is a strong one or a client just wishes to not have a trial  and to be done with the whole affair - that I am tasked with answering one of the most difficult questions an experienced Minnesota Defense Attorney has to hear: "If I (have to) plead guilty - is there anything that can be done to lessen how that will look on my record?"

How Do I Plead Guilty?

As a former prosecutor and as an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I know that proper representation can have a huge impact on limiting the impact that a "guilty" plea will have on an individual's record.  Believe it or not, there are a number of alternative dispositions (short of a plea of a straight-up "guilty" plea) that are used to conclude cases everyday in courts throughout the state.  Some of these options include:

I.   Certification of an Offense as a Petty Misdemeanor 

The answer to the question: when is a crime not a crime - is when that crime/offense is charged as and/or reduced to a Petty Misdemeanor. According to statute,  petty offenses do not constitute crimes.  Therefore, if say the Misdemeanor you were initially charged with is later reduced to a Petty Misdemeanor - at any date in the future if you are ever asked if you have been convicted of a criminal offense - as it concerns that offense - you can truthfully answer "no."

II.   Stay of Adjudication

Under a stay of adjudication, an individual admits to facts in court that would support a conviction; however, instead of accepting the plea, a judge (after an agrrement has been reached with the government) withholds a finding of guilt, for a period of time, usually on the condition that that individual do (or do not do) certain things.  If you sufficiently comply with those conditions, the matter will ultimately be dismissed and the plea will be vacated.

III.   Continuance for Dismissal (and/or Without a Plea)

This outcome is similar in form to a Stay of Adjudication - insofar as the ultimate result could end up being a dismissal; however, instead of setting forth facts that would support a conviction, the government usually agrees to end its prosecution after a certain period of time - provided that the offender pays some prosecution/court costs and/or is not charged with any same or similar type offenses before that time period expires.

IV.   Stay of Imposition

For more serious offenses, like Felonies, an individual may plead guilty (or even be found to be guilty;) however, instead of sentencing him/her on said Felony - judges can stay imposition of the sentence for a period of time on certain terms and conditions. If the individual complies with those terms, their Felony "conviction" could ultimately be reduced to/designated a Misdemeanor.  As such, all the collateral consequences that go along with a Felony conviction should not be a factor in your life going forward.

V.   Diversionary Programs

Certain cities and counties have programs in place that allow individuals to avoid a conviction if they agree to participate and comply with the terms of these classes. An example would be if someone successfully completed traffic school - a moving violation would be dismissed.

Remember, you all too often only get one chance to fix stuff like this.  Get help today - a FREE CONSULTATION is only a phone call away.  Call the Rolloff Law Office: (612) 234-1165

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Minesota Order For Protection Lawyer

If you have recently been served with a No Contact Order ... like an Order for Protection and/or a Harassment Order, you should talk to an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.  Often these orders are unfairly obtained ... and if you don't fight it, you could be subjected to significant restrictions to your personal freedoms and criminal consequences.  

What You Need to Know

The NO CONTACT Order for Protection is available to the family and household members of the abuser. "Family or household members" means the following people: current spouses, former spouses, parents and children, persons related by blood, persons who are currently residing together, persons who have resided together in the past, persons who have a child in common, a man and a woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is alleged to be the father
persons involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship

If the person abused is a minor, then the minor's guardian may bring the petition on the minor's behalf.

Why You Need to Fight

An Order for Protection is a cheap, quick, and easy way to obtain temporary custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and possession of the house and everything in it. It is a crippling blow to the one who gets the order, who must quickly deal with the immediate issue of finding a place to live and not having access to his residence, while the accuser is comfortably moving on to further stages of the custody battle.

Worse, once an Order for Protection is obtained, this document is repeatedly photocopied, flagged, highlighted, waved around like a red flag, and referred to in ominous tones at every opportunity by counsel for the “victim.” Whether rightly or wrongly issued, it creates a bad first impression and predisposition for any judge, custody evaluator, guardian ad litem, or other third person involved with the case.

Because an Order for Protection can be such a powerful weapon, it is often abused. Many allegations of abuse are wholly fabricated. Many are gross exaggerations. Any physical contact during an argument becomes an assault. Any vague comment about future possibilities becomes a “threat.” For example, a client once retained me in a divorce, who had previously had an OFP issued against him for telling his wife that she would come to regret her decision to pursue divorce. The spouse said that made her feel threatened. The Court bought it, and issued the OFP.  

Worst Case Scenarios

The fact that OFPs are so often abused has all too often really bad results, such as:

False abuse claims can result in great advantage in custody cases, to the harm of children, who suffer from the lack of contact with the other parent. I’ve heard more than one judge state from the bench that he must “err on the side of caution” and grant the OFP. (This is contrary to law and downright asinine, because it doesn't take into consideration the harm that the erroneously issued OFP will have on the children). Nevertheless, this attitude is all too prevalent on the bench.  


Legitimate abuse claims can and do get rejected by judges who are biased in the other direction, denying orders for protection in the belief that the abuse claim is a fraudulent attempt to gain advantage in custody proceedings, when in fact the abuse was very real.

What Should You Do?

If you should be so unfortunate as to become the Respondent in Order for Protection proceedings, where custody and parenting time of children is at issue, it is extremely important to retain an experienced Minnesota OFP Attorney as soon as possible, so that your attorney has as much time as possible to prepare for the OFP hearing, including to subpoena witnesses if necessary. OFPs figure largely in child custody cases, even when they’re issued on behalf of the spouse only and not the children. It is essential to defend aggressively against them.

One road to go down... if the OFP Petitioner has ever committed acts of domestic abuse against you, it is almost always advisable to bring a counter-petition for an OFP yourself, to be heard at the same time as the Petitioner’s case against you. This requires that you act very fast once you are served.  Honestly, if you are the victim of domestic abuse and need an OFP, don’t delay in seeking it, because if you do, your motives will be called into question along the lines of: “if you really were in fear, why did you wait X number of days/weeks/months to seek and Order for Protection?” Better to drop everything and bring your Petition for an OFP immediately after the abuse occurs.

Fire Arms

An often overlooked consequence of an Order for Protection is that the person restrained thereby may not possess any firearm for as long as the order remains in effect.  Violation is a federal felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. So if you’re a hunter, this can be an important consideration.

Remember, you all too often only get one chance to fix stuff like this.  Get help today - a FREE CONSULTATION is only a phone call away.  Call the Rolloff Law Office: (612) 234-1165

Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Keep a Speeding Ticket Off of Your Record

I get it --- If you can --- keep speeding tickets (heck - ANY tickets) off of your driving record, right?  Why? ... Well, we all know that your insurance company will use them as an excuse to send your rates through the roof. 

How to Keep a Ticket Off of Your Record

In Minnesota, there are a couple of different ways to do this ... with or without an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.  

The easiest is to request court supervision. Some Minnesota courts may allow you to use this option.  This means negotiating a resolution whereby --- as long as you get no new tickets the conviction won't show up on your record. In order to do this, you must do three things: (1) obtain an agreement from the DA, (2) pay the "fine" they assess, and (3) make sure that you get no new tickets of a same or similar nature.

The other way of "beating" a Minnesota Traffic Ticket is far less reliable: pleading guilty and trying to defend yourself against the charge. If you try to do this, it's important to make sure you have a valid defense-otherwise, you are wasting your breath. To help motorists examine the strength of their defensive strategy, the court's even provide a list of defense that will not be accepted:
  • "The sun was in my eyes."
  • "I was keeping up with the flow of traffic."
  • "My speedometer was broken."
  • "I did not see the sign." (Unacceptable unless the sign was not placed in accordance with state standards.)
  • "I was unfamiliar with the neighborhood and was lost." 

In fact, if you choose to plead innocent, you may be better of using the services of a Minnesota Traffic Ticket Lawyer. Such a person is much better prepared to argue your case than you could ever be. Lawyers know which defenses are likely the work and which won’t, and they have a better knowledge of the ins and outs of the court system than most people do. 

If you have ANY questions about what a lawyer can do for you - call The Rolloff Law Office to set up a FREE consultation.  Call (612) 234-1165.