Sep
29

Two New Minnesota Laws - Hands Free in More Ways than One

On August 1, 2019, several new laws related to driving went into effect in Minnesota.  The new “Hands-Free Cell Phone Law” responds to the growing number of incidents, accidents, and even fatalities caused by distracted drivers using their cell phones as they drive.  According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), cell phones are the fastest-growing distraction to drivers.  The DPS reports that In the past five years, distracted driving contributed to nearly one in every five accidents, averaged 204 “life-changing” injuries per year, and caused 45 annual...

Feb
20

Why Timbs v. Indiana May Mean the End of the Line for Forfeitures in Minnesota

On February 20, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Excessive Fines Clause in the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to civil forfeitures resulting from state criminal prosecutions. Timbs v. Indiana, __ U.S. __, No. 17-1091, (U.S. Feb. 20, 2019).

Minnesota, like most states, has civil forfeiture laws that allow the state to permanently take property from you when that property is used in connection with the commission of a crime.  For example, Minn. Stat. 609.5314 permits the state to take money, precious metals, or precious stones if they are found in...

Dec
3

Crimes and DACA - common issues that cause real problems

DACA recipients benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program which provides some immigration relief for children brought to the United States illegally at a young age.  If you have DACA, then the U.S. government essentially overlooks your illegal entry into the country and you can obtain a driver’s license, work permit and are protected from deportation – unless you get into certain kinds of trouble with the law.  What should you do if you have DACA and get charged with a crime?

While DACA offers protection from deportation, it is a fragile type of...

Jan
5

Don't Open the Door to Strangers!

It’s the middle of the night.  You are in bed, maybe asleep, maybe trying to get to sleep.  All of a sudden there is a banging on the door, and shouts of, “Police!  Open!  Police!”  Or maybe there is regular, constant knocking and someone asking, “Anyone home?  Hello?”  Startled, you jump out of bed, go to the door and open it.  Maybe you speak English, maybe you do not.  Two uniformed police officers are at the door and say there has been an accident, they need to see your son, your husband, or your wife.  What do you do?

Police cannot simply come into your house...

Nov
29

Avoiding Immigration Problems with Marijuana Tickets

  In Minnesota, there are many levels of marijuana related criminal charges. The amount of marijuana which a person possesses or sells determines the level of offense. Possession or sale of 42.5 grams or more of marijuana can lead to felony charges. Consequences for felony level marijuana related offenses range from a year and a day to 30 years in prison.

             Less serious marijuana related offenses include petty misdemeanor possession of a small amount of marijuana or misdemeanor possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle. Both possession of a small amount of marijuana and...

Sep
12

Immigration Consequences of a Fifth Degree Possession of a Controlled Substance Charge

A controlled substance charge in and of itself likely means that your noncitizen client has the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), and that ICE will monitor the proceedings.  ICE may detain your client during the pendency of the criminal case, and the charge alone can cause your client to lose the ability to remain in the United States.  A controlled substance offense subjects a person to mandatory ICE detention with no chance of bond, depending on the facts, and even a favorable criminal outcome may still trigger immigration consequences.

Deportation

       ...

Dec
16

Minnesota’s New Revenge Porn Law and Free Speech

On August 1, 2016, a new Minnesota law came into effect criminalizing acts involving what is commonly known as “revenge porn.”  The law is intended to protect people from the actions of jilted partners who post on the internet or otherwise distribute sexual images of their ex’s, often including names and contact information.  Minnesota Statute 617.261, entitled “Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images,” makes it a crime “to intentionally disseminate” a private sexual image of another, identifiable person.  Under this law, the person who disseminated the image...

Nov
25

When a BB Gun Is Not a Gun

In a case published on October 19, 2016, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided an issue long debated in Minnesota Courts: Is a BB gun a firearm under Minnesota Criminal Law. The issue was presented when the State charged Mr. Haywood with violating Minn. Stat. § 609.165, subd.1b, which criminalizes the possession of a firearm by an ineligible person. The Court’s analysis is also relevant to any case in which an individual is charged with possession or use of a firearm when the term “firearm” is not specifically defined by statute.

In the case, State v. Haywood, No. A14-1792, 2016 WL...

Oct
3

New Developments in DWI Law

Birchfield v. North Dakota

For years, lawyers in Minnesota have argued about the validity of the Minnesota Implied Consent Law and the corresponding criminalization of refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test.  In Minnesota, as in many other states, in order to enforce laws against drunk driving, statute establishes that by applying for a driver’s license, you have impliedly consented to a test if there is probable cause to believe that you have been drinking prior to operating the vehicle.[1]  If you are asked to take a test and you refuse to comply, the refusal results in a more...

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