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St. Cloud Criminal Defense Law Blog

Legal help is essential in the wake of a drug crime

There are many different levels of drug dealing. The kingpins you hear about and see movies and TV series being centered on perform this drug dealing on an international scale. But most people who are accused of dealing drugs are just young people caught up in a complex world at a complicated time in their lives. They make the mistake of selling or possessing drugs, and as a result, their futures are ruined.

That system seems broken, does it not? Sure, small-time drug dealer deserve some form of punishment -- but not necessarily the felony-level consequences and mandatory minimums that many people face every day for possessing or distributing drugs.

If your criminal history is hurting you, consider an expungement

When it comes to criminal convictions, sometimes the punishment directly tied to the crime in question isn't even the worst part for the individual. After the individual fulfills his or her debt to society by enduring the punishment (may it be jail time, probation, fines, other penalties, or any combination of these elements), they will re-enter the world anew -- well, sort of.

They will still carry the burden of having a criminal history, and for many, this is where the worst part of a criminal conviction comes into play. Because of their history, they struggle to find a place to live; to find work or retain the job they had; or to do other basic daily activities that most people take for granted.

Update: Necessity defense in implied consent hearings approved

Implied consent is a provision in Minnesota state law that gives authorities a great deal of leverage when they are trying to collect evidence against suspected drunk drivers. The theory behind the law is that when you apply for a driver's license, your consent to being tested for impairment is implied.

The problem with that scenario is that there may be situations in which a person feels it necessary to drive while intoxicated; a person seeking to escape an abusive and intoxicated partner at home, for example. Unfortunately, as we observed in a previous post, there was no provision in the law for person to make such an affirmative defense when accused of refusing to take a blood alcohol content test.

Could end be near for Minnesota indefinite sex offender program?

Are the scales of justice tipping on the Minnesota Sex Offender Program? It's hard to say at this point, but we may have an answer to the question sometime in the next few months.

We first wrote about this issue back in February, noting that the controversial program had become the subject of a class action suit on behalf of some 700 sex offenders. At issue at the launch of the case before a federal judge in St. Paul was whether the program has allowed the state to unconstitutionally hold the program's so-called "clients" in a form of indefinite limbo.

High Court rules search warrant needed to check hotel registers

The thing about the law is that it may never really be completely decided. This is perhaps most true when challenges of law are rooted in issues related to police searches and seizures. Every case is different and in any given one different questions may be raised about whether police processes that were followed were constitutional under the law.

Last fall we noted that the U.S. Supreme Court would be deciding whether a Los Angeles city ordinance allowing police to examine hotel and motel registries without a search warrant is constitutional or not. Well, earlier this summer, the high court issued its ruling, and as promised we offer this update on the case.

More than a year later, Hope Solo's legal issues linger

The whole world watched recently as the U.S. trounced Japan in the Women's World Cup by a score of 5-2. Well, maybe not the whole world, but a lot of people did, including a lot of them in Minnesota. According to The New York Times it was the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history.

One of the shining stars of the contest was U.S. goalie Hope Solo. While she attracted a lot of attention on the field during the match, a year ago she was the focus of a lot of legal attention. At that time, Solo was facing charges of domestic violence stemming from an alleged altercation between Solo and her half sister and the sister's teenage nephew.

Minnesota BCA stepping up cyber-crime forensics efforts

Technology is all around us. It is now part of everyday life for nearly every person in Minnesota. Whether you happen to be in the far reaches of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area or lost in the crowd at the Minnesota State Fair, there is likely to be some digital trace of you to be found and now the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says it is better equipped to follow that digital trail.

According to officials at the BCA, digital forensics was once singularly applied to resolving child pornography cases. But in the past few years, the scope of efforts has broadened to a point where cyber investigating is now part of nearly every crime -- homicides, drug probes and financial crime cases. At the same time, the number of tips investigated related to just Internet crimes involving children has reportedly increased more than 400 percent since 2010.

Cosby may face perjury charges based on unsealed testimony

Many of our readers have heard by now of the situation in which actor-comedian Bill Cosby has found himself with allegations of sexual assault. For those who may not have heard, Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by numerous women, the alleged assaults having occurred over a number of years. In some cases, Cosby has been accused of drugging accusers prior to assaulting them.

So far Cosby has not been hit with any criminal charges, though this could soon change based on a deposition released on Monday. The deposition, which was conducted back in 2005, included a statement from Cosby that he had obtained Quaaludes—a sedative and hypnotic drug—to give to women. The testimony was part of a civil lawsuit in which Cosby had been accused of drugging and assaulting a woman. 

MN court: state sex offender program unconstitutional

Back in February we wrote about Minnesota’s civil commitment laws and sex offender program, and the fact that they were being challenged as unconstitutional in court. The lawsuit was actually filed against seven managers of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

The law underlying the program was passed over 20 years ago in response to the problem of recidivism among recently released sex offenders, but it turns out that the program has been quite ineffective. As we noted, the basis for the lawsuit was that, although the program aims to help rehabilitate sex offenders, most of those who participate in the program are never actually released or graduated, leading to indefinite detainment. 

Survey shows how Minnesota compares to other states in terms of DUI penalties

Laws vary considerably across the nation when it comes to drunken driving penalties, as a recent study by WalletHub makes clear. The study ranked each state according to its overall strictness in dealing with intoxicated drivers, based on the criminal and administrative penalties they impose.

Minnesota ranked fairly low on the overall list, coming in at number 26 in terms of the strictness of its criminal penalties and number 40 in terms of the strictness of penalties aimed directly at drunken driving prevention.  Overall, the state ranked 36th when it comes to overall strictness. In terms of specifics, Minnesota—unlike some states—does not impose mandatory jail time on first or second time offenders.