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St. Cloud Criminal Defense Law Blog

DWI consequences are both criminal and administrative

One of the aspects of DWI cases that motorists are often not aware of prior to facing charges is that there are two separate sets of consequences one has to deal with in these cases. First of all, there are the criminal penalties for drunk driving, which are imposed after conviction by the judge handling the case.

The other set of consequences one has to deal with in DWI cases is the administrative sanctions. Because these sanctions are imposed administratively, a motorist may have to deal with them even if there is no conviction. It depends on the case. 

Minnesota men charged in connection with Colorado-based drug ring

Thousands of pounds of marijuana were smuggled into Minnesota in connection with a drug ring out of Denver, according to an indictment of 32 individuals alleged to be involved in the conspiracy. Those accused of being involved in the drug ring now face charges of money laundering, racketeering, and felony marijuana charges.

At least two Minnesota men have been indicted in connection with the alleged conspiracy. One of them is the owner of a skydiving company out of Winsted who is accused of using his planes to bring drugs from Colorado to Minnesota and Texas. The other Minnesota man is accused of acting as the main distributor in Minnesota. 

Seek legal counsel before accepting or rejecting plea deal

Former Vikings star Darren Sharper, as Minnesota readers may know, is currently facing rape charges in New Orleans for allegedly drugging and raping multiple women.  At this point, Sharper has been incarcerated since early 2014, and faces similar charges in other states.

Last month, prosecutors from various jurisdictions got together and came up with a multi-state plea deal for Sharper, under which he would spend an additional nine years in prison. Sharper has already pleaded either guilty or no-contest to rape charges in three other states. In Louisiana, though, he has pleaded not guilty. Sources say the not guilty plea may simply be because magistrate judges in Louisiana are not able to receive a guilty plea for felony charges. In other words, it may be that a guilty plea is coming further on in the criminal process, though it is possible that there are issues he wishes to contest in connection to the Louisiana charges. 

Work with experienced defense attorney in drugged driving cases

In order for prosecutors to successfully bring a DWI case in Minnesota, they must be able to show either that a motorist had a blood alcohol level that met the legal threshold for a presumption of intoxication or that he or she was under the influence of alcohol at the time of arrest. In cases where the driver did not have the required blood alcohol content, prosecutors must rely on evidence other than blood alcohol content to prove impairment, such as traffic infractions, sobriety tests, admissions of the driver and other evidence.

In cases of drugged driving, prosecutors do not have the benefit of a legal threshold in proving influence, so sobriety testing and other forms of evidence are heavily relied on to determine impairment. Because of this, it can be a challenge for police officers to investigate these cases and for prosecutors to win cases. 

Domestic violence defendants deserve to have legal rights protected

Domestic violence, wherever and whenever it is truly occurring, is something everybody should be on board with taking a strong stand against. Between police investigation policy and the legal system, there should be no argument about protecting those who are being victimized by family members, relatives, and intimate partners or spouses. As a recent survey shows, the latter scenario can be a particular challenge due to widespread perceptions about how spouses should relate to one another.

According to a recent World Values Survey, spouses too often view abuse as somehow justified, at least in some situations. Among the findings of the survey—which looked at cultural attitudes in nearly 100 countries—there were 29 countries where at least one-third of men said it is sometimes acceptable for a husband to beat his wife. In 19 countries, at least one-third of women agreed with that it may be acceptable in some cases. The reality is that abuse of a spouse is still abuse and it is never justified. Here in the United States, we still need to remind the public of this. 

Threat to physical safety proposed as necessity defense in implied consent hearings

We’ve been discussing in our previous posts the topic of implied consent hearings, what they are, what issues can be brought up during these hearings, and particularly a Supreme Court decision last May that there is no affirmative defense of necessity that can be raised in an implied consent hearing. In that case, as we mentioned, the woman was pulled over while fleeing from her abusive and intoxicated husband while she herself was intoxicated.

In response to that decision, a bill has been introduced which would allow a party to an implied consent hearing to raise the defense of necessity. The bill specifically provides that a petitioner may present evidence to prove that he or she refused to submit to an alcohol test because he or she was facing a threat to his or her physical safety. The measure would directly address the situation in which the woman in last year’s appeal found herself. 

What issues may be raised at an implied consent hearing?

In our last post, we began speaking about Minnesota’s implied consent law. As we mentioned, drivers who have had their license suspended because of a refusal to submit to an alcohol test have the opportunity to contest any issues they have with their case in a judicial hearing. Such a review must be requested, so motorists and their attorneys need to take the initiative themselves.

There are certain issues that can and cannot be brought up in implied consent hearings. State statute enumerates what can be contested. Among the things which can be addressed in an implied consent hearing are: whether the law enforcement officer has probable cause to suspect the motorist of DUI; whether the arrest was lawful; whether there was a test refusal; whether the motorist was given proper notice of the consequences of refusing to take an alcohol test; the validity and reliability of the testing method; and whether the motorist has reasonable grounds to refuse testing. 

What is implied consent?

Minnesota readers have probably all heard the term, “implied consent,” perhaps in the context of DUI investigation or criminal defense. Implied consent, which is recognized in other states as well, is the principle that anybody who has a driver’s license and operates a motor vehicle is deemed to have already consented to providing a breath, blood or urine sample for purposes of determining intoxication.

Implied consent is supposed to make it easier for police officers to conduct DUI investigations. Motorists are technically not required to submit to a test unless the investigating officer has probable cause to believe the suspect was driving under the influence and the suspect: has been placed under arrest; was involved in an accident resulting in personal injury, death, or damage to property; registered a blood alcohol concentration or 0.08 or more in a preliminary breath test; or registered an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more in a preliminary breath test. Refusing to submit to a test under these conditions is a crime in Minnesota, and there are consequences for doing so. 

Controversial civil commitment program on trial

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody that there are some individuals in our prisons who suffer from serious mental illnesses or other conditions which impact their ability to be law abiding citizens. One of the pathways these individuals can be sent along if they end in the criminal justice system is the mental health civil commitment program.

Those accused of a serious crime in Minnesota may be referred and approved for a civil commitment based on a handful of conditions, including mental illness, developmental disability, chemical dependency, and sexual psychopathic personality. To make sure they understand their rights, those participating in the program are able to choose whether they want to be represented by a pre-selected attorney in the civil commitment process or by their own private attorney. Although commitment in many cases is not allowed to exceed 12 months, there are some cases where commitment may be indefinite, even if subject to periodic review. 

NFL athletes and domestic violence: this time, charges dropped

Domestic violence is well-known to be a problem among professional athletes, especially football players. Given the amount of media attention, it would seem that the problem is an epidemic. As some readers may already know, though, while the rate of domestic violence arrests among football players is not impressive, it has been shown to be only slightly above the national average.

The fact that not all arrests result in charges is another factor to consider as well. Take, for example, the case of Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers, who recently had domestic violence charges thrown out because prosecutors were unable to secure the cooperation of the woman who accused him of assaulting and threatening her.