Posts Categorized Felony

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 {+}

Domestic Assault Law Changes in August

New domestic assault laws make arrest easier, dismissal harder On August 1, 2014, a new law goes into affect which broadens the basis on which a person may be arrested and charged with domestic assault.  It now includes provisions for misdemeanor arrest, and expands the time frame to 72 hours.  If you are charged with domestic assault, or someone you know has just been arrested for domestic assault, here’s why you need to involve a criminal defense attorney immediately. The politics of domestic assault continue to ignore the rights of the accused and discourage investigation and common sense. It is often politically incorrect to doubt the words of an accuser, particularly a woman Sadly, however, we have created a system that does provide incentive to manufacture domestic assault allegations, and for the accuser to stick to their false story.  As discussed previously at Minnesota Legal Defense, The system also makes it extremely difficult for the accuser to “drop charges” so to speak.  There are a number of attributes which make domestic assault so difficult from the very beginning:   (1) The speed with which various mechanisms move when accusations are made (2) The immediate isolation of the accused. (3) The affects on pending or soon to be initiated family law proceedings. (4) The ability of the accuser to continue to manufacture evidence at trial. From the moment 911 is called, a very fast process begins, and you’re going to jail. Law enforcement and prosecuting authorities take domestic assault very seriously, as well they should. According to a 2012 Domestic Violence Report citing to the 2010 Minnesota Crime Victim Survey, as many as 201,814 adults may have experienced domestic violence in 2010. Besides the wrongfulness of this act, the other concern of law enforcement is that perpetrators of domestic violence may go on to harm their victims repeatedly. Abusive relationships have been known to escalate quickly. No officer wants to be the one that did not respond to a 911 call only to find a murder has occurred. For this reason, police respond swiftly to domestic assault calls. The person that calls 911 often has a distinct advantage in that they will tell the first version of events. At that point, invariably, officers end up subject to a phenomenon known as confirmation bias. When they arrive on scene, they will be looking for evidence which confirms the facts of the initial call. The caller will also often be the first person interviewed at the scene, further securing this bias. From there, they will interview the suspect, and selectively record and put in their reports those portions of the story that confirm the accuser’s version of events. It’s for this reason that it is important to not talk to the police. You may think that you’re helping yourself and that you can prove your innocence, but the officer is most often looking for you to say the magic words that confirm any part of the accuser’s story. Frankly, any confirmation that you… Read more {+}

Juvenile Felony Criminal Sexual Conduct: The Long-Term Consequences

Many individuals do not believe that a juvenile who engages in felony criminal sexual conduct and is convicted of it will face long-term consequences. They think that the matter will disappear when the child turns 18, but that is not the case. Juvenile sex crimes can result in the minor being charged as an adult and this means serving an adult prison sentence. If your child has been charged with felony criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota, it is imperative to secure the services of an experiencedSt. Paul criminal defense attorney experienced in such matters. An attorney protects the rights of your child and works hard to avoid the potential consequences of the charge. It is not guaranteed that your child’s case will be handled in juvenile court. It is expected, but the judge may rule that the child can stand trial as an adult. According to the Department of Justice: Juveniles account for more than 35.6 percent of those who commit sex offenses against other children. Children who commit sex offenses are more likely than adult offenders to offend at school and in groups and they tend to have more male victims and their victims are younger. The age in which youth sex offenders start to come to the attention of police is around the age of 12 and it plateaus around the age of 14. Offenses are primarily against younger children, but offenses against other teenagers can occur in later adolescence. Female sex offenders make up 7 percent of juvenile offenders. Female offenders are more frequently found among younger youth than older youth. They are more likely to have male victims and typically within their family. These figures are very rough in that jurisdictions vary a lot in how they concentrate on reports of juvenile sex offenders. However, this is research that has gone back 50 years, but the surge in interest did not occur until the 1980s due to the surge in juveniles being entered into sex offender treatment programs. While most juvenile sex offenders are teens, there is a small percentage that is under the age of 12. This group has been the focus of educators, clinicians, and public safety offices because they tend to not be declared delinquent like older offenders. These young people are considered to have sexual behavior issues. Not all of these cases come to the attention of the police because they are usually handled in other ways. But when criminal charges are brought, it is important that the child is defended. The reason is because not all children who offend become adult offenders, so their future depends on whether or not they are tried as a child and determining if the charge does have merit. False accusations do happen among the juvenile population as well. There is also the fact that young children abusing other children may be an indication that the child offender is being abused by someone older than them or they had been abused in the past. That is… 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 {+}