Domestic Assault: Why Victims Don’t Control Charges

The Victim Has No Control Alex De Marco, Domestic Assault Defense Attorney Domestic assault is probably the second most common crime in Minnesota that carries with it actual consequences, next to DWI.  That is because, just like DWI, a person can be arrested for DWI at the scene on virtually no real evidence whatsoever.  It is not an exaggeration to say if your significant other or family member says you struck them, or even placed them in fear of being injured, that is absolutely all it takes to be arrested.  There are numerous organizations and “battered women shelters” which receive a combination of public and private money, and they have combined with various activist organizations to “crack down” on domestic assault.  This has resulted in unintended consequences. One of those consequences is that, even if the alleged victim does not want to “press charges”, even if she changes her story or admits she lied, the charges do not get dismissed on that statement.  Too often our law firm is told “she doesn’t want to press charges so this is an easy win.”  Not as easy as you think.  The phrase “press charges” is largely the result of television shows, and a different time in law when people actually had some control over what their police force did in their name.  It is very true that some victims of domestic abuse do not not report every incident of assault, and face a great deal of psychological pain and distortion if they are in such a relationship.  It is fashionable to talk about this as “battered women syndrome” or some similar description.  The politics of domestic assault have brought this disorder to light with the best of intentions.  For centuries women lived in shadows of submission and abuse with no redress for their pain, and no just punishment for their abuser.    Contrary to what is often reported, however, such a “syndrome” is an abrogation from the norm, and is not widespread or common to every or even most victims of domestic abuse.  Domestic abuse often causes divorces or separation in a short period of time, and after all it is the natural instinct of any person assaulted to fight back and/or contact authorities after the event.  However, the focus on this unique phenomenon, syndromes and disorders that cause victims to languish in silence for years and years, has led to a an erroneous assumption that every person who calls the police and tells one story, and then changes it, is lying because they are terrified of their abuser, or suffer from some “syndrome.”  This presumption has resulted in a process that prevents the central function of investigation and prosecution:  to seek the truth. We like to think that once an accusation has been made, someone who has lied or misunderstood a perceived incident can come forth and tell THE TRUTH, and spare the accused the very real consequences of criminal prosecution.  Unfortunately, the tactics of many prosecuting authorities, officers, and even… Read more {+}

The Line between Felony Assault and Attempted Murder

Two people get into a gun fight and suddenly one is severely injured and the other is charged with attempted murder. In another case, two individuals get into a bar fight and one is severely injured and the other is charged with felony assault. So why was one charged with attempted murder and the other with felony assault? First of all, the District Attorney decides on what the charge will be. The details of the altercation are looked at and the following constitutes felony assault: Great bodily injury was inflicted on the other person on purpose. Bodily injury was inflicted on the other person with a deadly weapon other than a firearm. Bodily injury was inflicted on a police officer or a correctional facility employee While attempted murder also involves deadly force with a deadly weapon, the type of weapon is looked at. If a person uses a gun, then they can be charged with attempted murder. In this case, the gun is the only difference between the two charges. However, attempted murder in Minnesota can include any of the following: Stalking or tracking down a person in hopes for an opportunity to commit murder Luring a victim to come to a specific place where it is possible for the victim to be murdered Breaking in to the home or property where the victim is thought to be in order to commit murder Collecting materials needed to commit the murder, such as obtaining the parts to create a bomb and attempting to put them together Convincing someone else to commit the murder, such as having them plant a bomb In this case, the difference between assault and attempted murder lies in the fact that there is planning, but the plan is not followed through with. The attempt to murder is made, whereas in assault there may be no premeditation. But the absence of premeditation does not mean that a person cannot be charged with attempted murder, especially when an act of assault in the heat of the moment leads to a person trying to kill the other person. This proves how the line between felony assault and attempted murder can be thin or it can be rather thick. It also shows how a person can be charged with attempted murder when murder was not the intention and that is why it is imperative for a person to contact their a St. Paul & Minneapolis criminal defense attorney who can draw that line between the two in order to obtain the best results in the case. While a felony assault conviction can severely affect you for the rest of your life, an attempted murder conviction can lead to longer prison sentences and even more difficulty moving forward toward the future. A competent attorney can seek a reduction in a felony assault or attempted murder charge so that the penalties are reduced, thus giving you a better chance at moving beyond the charge sooner. The Line between Felony Assault and Attempted Murder… Read more {+}

DWI For Taking Prescription Medications

In Minnesota, a person can be charged with a DWI/DUI for having more than alcohol in their system; they can also be charged for being under the influence of drugs even if they have a valid prescription for them. Controlled substances can impede a person’s ability to drive a motor vehicle. Even if the drug is prescribed, it can still be illegal to drive while under the influence of it if it is a Schedule I or II controlled substance. Here are some instances of how a person can receive a DWI in Minneapolis while under the influence of controlled substances: An individual sustains an injury in an accident and her doctor prescribes her Vicodin so she can tolerate the pain. She gets in her car to run to the store for milk, but an officer notices that she swerved left of center, so he pulls her over. He suspects her of driving under the influence, so she submits to the requested tests and it is found that she has narcotics in her system. Because Vicodin is a Schedule II drug, it is illegal to drive after taking it, even if it is prescribed. A college student goes to a party and smokes marijuana. He declined alcohol since he didn’t have a designated driver. On his way home, a patrol officer notices he has a broken headlight, so he pulls him over. The officer determines that the student may be under the influence of a substance, so he has the student submit to urine testing. When the marijuana is found in his system, he is charged with DWI. A gentleman decides to get his ATV and go mudding with some of his friends. He has a friend to pick him up because the side effects of the Adderall. He hits the trails with his friends, but he flips the ATV and someone calls the police. Because Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance, he can be charged with DWI although he has a prescription. Many individuals throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul do not have prescriptions for the prescription drugs that they take. They may steal them off of family members, friends, or they get them illegally on the Internet. Either way, there is a need for a Minneapolis DWI attorney to help defend against the charges. There are times when a prescription drug DWI charge can be successfully challenged. Minnesota statute 169A.46 subd. 2 offers an affirmative defense when a person is charged with a prescription drug charge. There is a clause in subdivision 1 that states a person can prove that they were taking their prescription according to the orders of their doctor. If this fact is presented, then it is possible for the charges to be dismissed. The only downfall to this defense is most defendants will testify in their own defense, which means the burden of proof leaves the shoulders of the prosecution and moves to the defense. Your attorney will provide you with advice on what… Read more {+}

Auto Theft: How Easy it May be to Commit

Auto theft is a serious offense in the state of Minnesota. If the charge is for grand theft auto, then it is a felony charge that can lead to time in prison and fines. What many individuals do not realize is how easy auto theft may be to commit. In fact, it is so easy that some individuals may not realize they have done anything wrong until they see the police car lights behind them. There are different types of auto theft offenses and they include: Taking a car that belongs to someone else for a “joy ride.” Selling the stolen car Selling parts from the stolen car Trading the stolen car for drugs or other products or services Arrangement for the stealing of the car in order to commit insurance fraud Stealing the car for vehicle cloning Many authorities do not like the word “joy ride,” although that is something that some juveniles will do. They will take someone’s car for a ride and some even believe that they will be fine as long as they return it before the owner realizes it is gone. Usually, the owner realizes that their vehicle is gone and they report it stolen. A person may also report a car stolen if it is in their name and their significant other takes it without their permission. While reporting the car stolen is not something that would typically happen, it can happen if the couple is having a dispute. The partner who took the car may not realize they did anything wrong, especially if they have been allowed to drive the car in the past. In regards to selling the car or parts from the car, this is actually a more complicated form of auto theft.  The individual who steals the vehicle and goes through the trouble of selling the car or its parts knows what they are doing. So does someone who steals the car for cloning purposes. When an individual clones a vehicle, they typically do so when the car’s title is not clean and they wish to replace it with the VIN of a clean title. This results in a false registration document and enables the auto thief to sell the car with a clean title, getting the most out of its value. A person may also steal another car to make their own vehicle look clean. When a vehicle owner arranges for the stealing of their vehicle, it is usually because it is a leased car that has high mileage, resulting in high-mileage penalty costs. If the car is stolen, then they cannot prove the mileage went over. This is actually insurance fraud. Some individuals leasing vehicles in Minnesota have actually gone as far as sinking their vehicles in lakes. If you are charged with Auto theft in Minnesota, it is important for you to secure the representation of aSt. Paul criminal defense attorney who can prove what happened in your case. If you took a vehicle without the intent… Read more {+}

Wrongfully Charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct

It is difficult for some people to hear that a person has been acquitted of criminal sexual conduct. However, Minnesota does not necessary have to corroborate the story of the accuser in order for someone to be charged or convicted of the crime. It is outlined in Minnesota Statute 609.347 subd. 1 that the testimony of a victim does not have to be corroborated. This was also stated in the case State v. Ani (Minn 1977). “Corroboration” is defined as other evidence that supports the accusation of the accuser. There have been a number of cases throughout Minnesota in which individuals have been wrongfully charged of criminal sexual conduct because of simple accusations. Not only does this hurt the accused, but it also hurts the credibility of those who have legitimately been victimized. It is a disservice to law enforcement and the court system as well. Even if a person does not have a prior criminal record and has a flawless reputation, the accusation takes precedent and the case is aggressively prosecuted. Nationwide, there have been quite a few false accusations. These false accusations have led to convictions that sent these individuals to prison under the title of “rapist” or “sex offender.” DNA evidence has led to the release of some of them, while others are still waiting. When DNA evidence has led to the declaration of their innocence and they are released from prison, they tend to win large monetary settlements for the wrongful conviction and the years of their lives that they lost. Sometimes false accusations stem from custody issues or out of “revenge.” For instance, a parent may coach their young child to say that the other person touched them inappropriately in an effort to keep the other parent from ever gaining custody of the child. Other times, someone may be mad at another and wish to get revenge by going as far as accusing them of sexual assault. Also unfortunate is when someone makes the accusation for the sole purpose of getting attention. Sometimes these individuals recant and other times they see it through to the conclusion. In some cases, they will come out and say after the conviction that their accusations were false, but it takes much more than that to get a person out of prison. However, you cannot be convicted of criminal sexual conduct unless the prosecutor convinces the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that each of the elements of criminal sexual conduct exist. The job of the defense is to implant reasonable doubt where it belongs to get the correct verdict. Nonetheless, the prosecutor legally points to the jury and states that if they believe the victim, that is enough evidence to convict the defendant. In other words, the conviction occurs simply because of another person’s word and not the evidence or lack of evidence in the case. Most juries do review the facts and evidence in the case, knowing that false accusations do happen and the defense’s job is to point… Read more {+}