Posts Categorized Criminal

Virginia Beach Police use forged DNA reports to obtain false confessions

According to a recent story from NPR, the Virginia Beach Police Department categorically lied to defendants to obtain false confessions in serious felony matters. “Investigators from Herring’s office found that the police department was using the forged documents as “supposed evidence” to try to get confessions, cooperation and convictions. The police department would lie and say the suspect’s DNA was connected with the crime and provide that in the document, which had forged letterhead and contact information, according to the investigation.” The sad truth:  Police officers are, within certain limits, allowed to coerce statements from defendants using false information.  False Confessions  are often the result of misstatements or outright lies by the police department.  Police can tell some lies to try to get a suspect to talk, but the Supreme Court in Minnesota in particular as warned that law enforcement agencies that do so regularly are “on thin ice.”  Increasingly, more judges in more jurisdictions are suppressing false confessions, meaning that it cannot be used against a defendant in a jury trial.  I have raised successful challenges to false information resulting in false confessions before.   Over my years of practice I have actually seen lies like this told to defendants, that “we have your DNA” or “your fingerprints are on the weapon” when in fact it wasn’t true.  In Minnesota I suppressed a confession by a juvenile to a criminal sexual conduct case in which the officers misrepresented to the defendant that the accusations “were not very serious” and they just wanted his “side of the story.”    I recently won a murder case in which  Aaron Zirzow of the Minneapolis Police Department Crime Lab was caught lying about their firearm tests and represented falsely that the test fired bullet casing “matched” the casing found at a murder scene.  The test was not even performed the same brand or materials used in the casing found at the scene, and the state strategically arranged microscopic photos and alignments to make it look as though the same marks were left.   However before even obtaining that false evidence, the Minneapolis Police represented to the defendant that his fingerprints and DNA were on the gun, which wasn’t true.  They obtained a sort of partial false confession from my client.  The jury found the defendant NOT GUILTY, despite the State calling over 20 witnesses.  The sole testimony presented by the defense was that of the defendant, and defendant had been accused of shooting someone before. If you’ve been accused of a crime and forced to confess because you thought it would go better for you, or if you’ve been told the forensic evidence in your case is hopeless to overcome, you need to hire a Criminal Defense Attorney, like myself, who practices in Minnesota.  I have the competence to dig into forensic evidence, consult experts, and learn the latest science and challenge the state’s evidence.  If you’ve been accused of a crime in Ramsey County, Hennepin County, Washington County, Dakota County, Rice County or anywhere… Read more {+}

Nicholas Kraus charged with Second Degree Murder

Today the Hennepin County Attorney charged Nicholas Kraus with Second Degree Murder.   He says his attempt was to jump the barricade.  It doesn’t sound like anyone is buying that story.  Click here to read the complaint. Nicholas Kraus charged with Second Degree Murder was last modified: June 16th, 2021 by Alex DeMarco

The Yanez Verdict and the Bigger Picture

THE YANEZ TRIAL MAY ACTUALLY REPRESENT PROGRESS AND INTEGRITY IN CERTAIN ASPECTS OF OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM, AND REVEAL THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT SOCIETY, NOT THE LAW As the Nation and World focus on a myriad of stories from the ongoing investigation of the Trump administration to the tragic shooting targeting members of Congress and staff in Washington D.C., the focus in Minnesota has been on the trial of Officer Jeronimo Yanez for his actions in the shooting death of Philando Castile.    The six day trial, the remarkably long five days of deliberations, and the ultimate verdict of not guilty on all counts, presents a unique analysis and opportunity for dialogue that, as is so often the case, has been lost to anger, division, and preconceptions.   There are legitimate emotions that bare upon the evaluation of the outcome.   The African American community has absolutely legitimate grievances in the disparate treatment of black individuals by law enforcement.   This has resulted in a well-founded distrust of the police, who in turn respond with frustration and a posture of defense of their profession and colleagues.  Most poignantly, a young man who, by all accounts, was an upstanding individual, a bright light to the community, and a friend to many children and teachers and staff at J.J. Hill Montessori, is dead.  Yet it can be said, as a matter of prosecutorial action and due process, the case as a whole actually may represent progress and a hope for our justice system.  It can also be said that the case raises more challenges going forward. Doubt and Skepticism, the heart of the criminal justice system. It is important to note, from the outset, that our justice system necessitates and demands the presumption that every single defendant accused of a crime is INNOCENT.  That is the premise for each case.  Every jury is told this, and we are all, collectively, the potential jury pool, and yet that is in profound contrast to how we treat stories when we read the newspaper.  We see that this or that person was booked for child molestation, or domestic assault, and we automatically judge them and essentially presume they committed the act alleged.  Essentially, Americans engage in a completely un-American thought process on a daily basis.  This is not an opinion that is allowed in the justice system.  You cannot be a juror if you cannot presume someone innocent.  That presumption of innocence remains with the defendant from arrest, to preliminary hearings, to the trial itself, all the way until the end of the presentation of all evidence and argument at trial.  The Jury is instructed on this several times. For a defendant to be found “guilty”, the jury must, after clandestine deliberation after analyzing all evidence, UNANIMOUSLY find the defendant guilty or not guilty.  There are no split verdicts in Minnesota, and indeed. most states.  We should be grateful for this standard.   Criminal law is the most powerful area of law.  It is the only mechanism under which the government… Read more {+}

From the United Airlines Passenger to Woodland Hills Brutality, People are Missing the Point

Well, spring is upon us, and that means increased travel, increased outdoors activities, and recovery from cabin fever.  People get outside, drive more, there are more birthdays in spring and school is winding down.  And it’s no coincidence that, at this time of year, police activity increases, and the phones begin to ring more here at the Law Office of Alex DeMarco. Dominating the headlines some weeks ago was the story of a United Airlines Passenger who was injured in the process of being forcibly removed from a flight.   In the fallout from the whole affair, the overwhelming consensus was that this brutality was unjustified and unnecessary.  Yet a small select handful of individuals continued to defend the airline and the officers involved, repeating the familiar ring, “if he’d only complied, this would not be a problem.”   This represents a profound divide in our society, a new partisanship, if you will.  A divide between those who can handle some minor disorder while maintaining freedom, and those who need absolute predictability, even if that means disproportionate violence on every single individual who does not do as they are told. Police Violence, Not Just for Crimes Anymore Dr. David Dao had committed no crime.   By all accounts, he had lawfully purchased a flight like any other traveler.   Announcements were made offering for passengers to “voluntarily” give up their seats for an incentive.  He refused.   He paid for that seat.   He had a right to be there.   Because of United Airlines’ inability to do math and their incentive to simply grab more money, he was ordered to leave.  He refused.  But it was not United Airlines who ultimately forced him to leave.   For any civilian to physically grab, beat,  and eject someone would be a crime.  It would be assault. Enter the immunity of the badge.   He was ultimately removed by members of the “Chicago Department of Aviation”, a division of the Chicago Police Department.   Dr. Dao suffered a bloody head injury, concussion, and missing teeth.  The chaos and disorder of that moment for all on the flight is palpable.  And yet, it was in the name of “order”, a failure to “comply” with commercial demands, that he was ultimately brutalized.  This very high-profile story is but a symptom of a much much larger problem, and that is, we rely on police officers to solve the majority of problems that we used to solve ourselves.  Armed Officers Are in Nearly Every Public School In America An example is school discipline.  For nearly all of our nation’s existence right up through the 1990’s, police officers on duty at school were unheard of.  To this day, there are no police officers in private schools, and yet there doesn’t seem to be more violence, drugs, or criminal issues in those schools where officers never set foot until they are called.  What DOES seem to occur more in public schools with officers present?  Escalation and violence.   Recently, we… Read more {+}

When Driving Drunk Becomes Necessary

There are two fundamental ways in which a DWI is challenged. One is a legal challenge which deals with the constitutionality of the progressive intrusion into one’s fundamental Fourth Amendment Rights. This primarily asks a court to suppress evidence in a DWI case before any sort of trial. It could raise a challenge to the basis for stopping the vehicle in a case. If the stop is legally proper, one could challenge the basis for the expansion of the the traffic stop into a DWI investigation, basically determining whether it was proper to ask a person to come out of the vehicle for standardized field sobriety testing. It could raise a challenge to whether there was probable cause to arrest the driver after such investigation.  Finally, a challenge may be raised to the Constitutionality of taking a chemical test without a warrant, which was recently litigated in a number of DWI cases in Minnesota and ultimately the Supreme Court of the United States ruling in |State v. Bernard|. DWI cases are difficult to challenge, but most of the successful litigation and positive case law come from these challenges. There can also be challenges raised to the science of DWI testing. The state is advancing a scientific test as evidence of a crime, namely operating a motor vehicle while the person has an alcohol concentration above .08. The State thereby “must establish that the test itself is reliable and that its administration in the particular instance conformed to the procedure necessary to ensure reliability. “Without a foundation guaranteeing the test’s reliability, the test result is not probative as a measurement and hence is irrelevant.” State v. Dille, 258 N.W.2d 565, 567 (Minn.1977).  It is very difficult to do this without involving an independent expert regarding the science of alcohol testing. It is often not successful to challenge the reliability of the chemical test as a matter of law before a judge. However, there can be success in challenging it before a jury, because the fact is that precise testing for alcohol concentration is not very good science, and the police officers themselves know very little about it. However there are also what are known as “affirmative defenses” to DWI.  There are not many, but one in particular which Alex DeMarco recently advanced at trial, and with success, is that of “necessity.” What is a necessity defense? It’s actually a defense that arises from English Common law and may apply to a number of different crimes and circumstances. Essentially this defense is made in a circumstance where the driver did not want to drive the car, but felt they had to in order to escape an immediate danger. Many lawyers when faced with a case of necessity give up afte researching the case law. That is because there are numerous rulings that have significantly limited when the defense is available. Many published cases deal with circumstances where the trial court ruled the jury could not consider a necessity defense, and the court of appeals and other higher… Read more {+}