Minnesota Police Issue Nearly 700 DWIs in First Half of December

December DWIs in MNAs of December 15, 2010, there had already been a staggering 675 DWI arrests in the state of Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS). That’s an average of 45 DWI arrests per day!

Only 170 of the 400 law enforcement agencies involved in the campaign reported their DWI arrests through the first half of the month. Assuming that the other 57.5% of agencies are delivering similar figures, the number presumably increases to about 1500 DWI arrests! If the arrests continue at this rate, Minnesota law enforcement could very well break the record for the most DWIs issued in a single month.

The increased arrests are part of a month-long, state-wide DWI crackdown by Minnesota law enforcement officials. The campaign continues through New Year’s Eve and is supported by $350,000 in federal funding to pay for 7,000 extra hours of enforcement.

Last year in Minnesota, 140 people died and 400 were injured in drunk-driving accidents. These figures have been declining over the past few years. Experts at the DPS cite DWI enforcement campaigns as being instrumental in this decline.

December is also National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, which is surely not a coincidence.  Read our “3D Prevention Month” article for tips on how to stay safe on the roads during the holidays.

If Minnesota law enforcement breaks the record for the most DWIs issued in a single month, what does that say about drunk driving in Minnesota? Is the problem that serious? Or are MN law enforcement officials circling their prey like vultures, waiting for them to screw up?

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Crazed Soccer Player Scores Jail Time After Driving Car at Referee

Joseph RimmerOn Tuesday, November 23 amateur soccer player, Joseph Rimmer, was sentenced to six months in jail for driving his car at a referee.

The incident occurred during a February match between Lonsdale and Harrington in northwest England. Rimmer became angry with referee David Harkness after he refused to grant a free kick.

“If you book me or send me off, you know what will happen,” Rimmer told Harkness when he thought the referee was about to give him a red card. Harkness had no idea what would happen and issued the player a red card. Rimmer responded by saying: “I’m going to run you down.”

Rimmer subsequently marched off the field, got into his Range Rover, and drove it onto the field in an attempt to run Harkness over. According to eye-witnesses at the game, fans and players were gripped with “panic and fear,” running from and dodging Rimmer’s car as he careened across the pitch.

The referee was not injured but still fears for his safety. “After 35 years, I now fear I cannot continue as a referee,” said Harkness. “I have not slept through fear that the defendant will find out where I live and carry out his threat to shoot me.”

Rimmer was convicted of affray and sentenced to 24 weeks in jail. His driver’s license was also suspended for one year. In Minnesota the perpetrator of such a crime would likely be charged with second degree assault, aka assault with a deadly weapon. This is a felony offense and normally carries stiff sanctions including 2 years in prison.

“There is little patience or compassion for people involved in these forms of crimes,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “Judges do not look favorably on people charged with violent crimes, especially those who appear premeditated and over such insignificant matters as a call in a soccer game.”

Have you ever seen any similar outbursts at American sporting events?

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29 Indicted in MN-Based Somali Prostitution Ring

MN Somali Sex Trafficking

On Monday, November 8, 29 people were indicted in a prostitution ring orchestrated by Minnesota Somali gangs. Federal agents say the ring extended from Minnesota to Tennessee.

The primary goal of the ring was to lure unsuspecting underage girls into prostitution and force them to perform sex acts in exchange for money or drugs. In some cases, the victims were under the age of 14.

An indictment unsealed in Nashville, Tennessee United States District Court detailed several examples of the underage victims. One in particular (a 13-year-old girl) was transported from Minneapolis to Columbus, Ohio and then ultimately to Nashville for sex. This went on for nearly two-and-a-half years. Another case involved a 12-year-old Somali girl who was forced into a St. Paul prostitution operation and subsequently traded to other men in exchange for money, drugs, and alcohol.

These are just a few examples of the numerous female minors who were forced into sex acts in hotel rooms, men’s bathrooms, and cars, among other locations.

Some people, however, are hesitant to indemnify the accused. “The fact of the matter is these are very serious charges in a very serious case. We would like people to hold their judgments,” said local Somali Community Advocate, Omar Jamal.

The indicted suspects are also being charged with obstruction of justice, theft of cash, and cars, and counterfeiting money. They face sentences of 15 years to life in prison.

“Culture clash plays a large role in this case,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “In Somalia these criminal acts are perhaps more acceptable, or more common, than they are here in America. Regardless of the difference in values, the situation is illegal here in the United States.”

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Prostitution in Minnesota Part 4 of 4: Defenses

Prostitution in MNWelcome to the fourth and final installment of Appelman Law Firm’s “Prostitution in Minnesota” blog series. So far we’ve covered definitions, procedures, and consequences of prostitution offenses in Minnesota. In this segment, we will outline the possible avenues for defending a prostitution charge.

There are three primary options for defending a prostitution charge in the state of Minnesota:

1. Entrapment Defense occurs when a government official (such as a police officer) entices a person to commit a crime that they otherwise would not commit. Proving entrapment is often difficult in these cases because offenders actively seek out prostitutes without knowing that they are undercover police officers. Thus, it is easy for the prosecution to argue the offender’s act of prostitution was premeditated, not forced.

2. Due Process Defense is a viable option when, during the course of a prostitution arrest, a government official displays outrageous conduct such as to make the continuation of the case unconstitutional. For example, if a police officer involved in a prostitution sting is caught engaging in sexual contact during said sting, the due process of law is violated. A judge will be left to determine whether the state acted in conduct that violated the due process rights of the accused.

3. Lack of Probable Cause Defense may be used when a prostitution patron is arrested prior to an agreement to engage in prostitution. An officer must have probable cause to arrest someone for prostitution. This means an explicit offer to engage in sexual contact for hire must be reached and documented. If the prosecution cannot prove that such an agreement occurred, the defendant can use this defense. It will be left up to a judge to determine whether the state has a reasonable belief based on all facts and circumstances that the defendant has committed the act of prostitution. This also requires in-court testimony by the defendant.

Prostitution is often an embarrassing charge that most offenders wish to keep under wraps. The prosecution knows this and will use it to their advantage when negotiating a plea. Thus, it is essential to have a knowledgeable attorney to help you through the complex legal proceedings.

The best possible defense against a prostitution charge is to not engage in prostitution. If you or someone you know is addicted to prostitution, the best course of action is to seek help. The following is a list of several prostitution recovery programs: Minnesota Recovery, Sexual Recovery Institute, Recovery Connection.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series on “Prostitution in Minnesota.” Stay tuned for more informative blogs on criminal defense in Minnesota from Appelman Law Firm.

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

3D MonthThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated December as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month (aka 3D month).

The holidays are celebratory times. Unfortunately celebration in excess often leads to drunk-driving related accidents. According to the CDC, 36 people die and 700 are injured each day in the United States as a result of drunk driving.

In a recent study, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 30% of Americans will be involved in an alcohol related accident sometime in their lives. In 2006 32% of all traffic-related deaths were caused by drunk driving. Alcohol-related accidents cost a total of $51 billion each year in the United States.

It is because of such statistics that the CDC has initiated its nationwide “3D Month” campaign. The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of drunk-driving related traffic accidents by spreading awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence.

Here are a few tips to help protect yourself and your loved ones from drunk driving:

  • Always plan ahead before attending a holiday party. Appoint a designated driver you can trust to drive you home safely at the end of the night.
  • If a friend is planning to drive impaired, take the keys. He/she will thank you in the morning.
  • If you are hosting a holiday party, provide your guests with non-alcoholic beverages, and make sure everyone leaves with a sober driver.
  • Under Minnesota Dram Shop Laws, bars, restaurants, and companies that hold holiday parties can be held responsible for alcohol related accidents that result from their neglect.

Nobody wants a DWI arrest or accident, especially this time of year. Adhere to the above tips and promote safe driving not only this month, but year round.

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Prostitution in Minnesota Part 3 of 4: Cities, Counties, & Consequences

Prostitution in MinnesotaWelcome back to Appelman Law Firm’s “Prostitution in Minnesota” blog series. Last week we enlightened you to the procedures surrounding prostitution stings in Minnesota. In this third installment, we will examine the Minnesota cities and counties in which these prostitution stings occur and the varying consequences specific to each location.

Police and prosecutors who run prostitution sting operations hone in on distinct areas of the Twin Cities metro. Court records reveal the following cities to be the most targeted: Richfield, Bloomington, Minneapolis, Burnsville, Lakeville, Saint Paul, and Plymouth. These cities fall categorically into three counties: Dakota County, Hennepin County, and Ramsey County. The consequences for prostitution offenses vary slightly by county.

Consequences by County for First-Time Prostitution Offenders

Dakota County

  • A judge-recommended 10 days in jail
  • Completion of a psychosexual evaluation (usually reserved for sex offenders)

Ramsey/Hennepin County

  • Stay of imposition for vacate & dismissal (The prosecutor will look for you to plead guilty to a prostitution related offense. Upon satisfactory completion of all terms of the judge’s sentence, the plea will be vacated and case dismissed, thus purging your criminal record of the offense).
  • Mandatory attendance of a one day prostitution recovery class

There are also state-wide penalties that transcend county lines and affect all prostitution offenders in the state. Generally, a first time prostitution offense is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, offenders are charged a penalty assessment of $250. A vehicle used to facilitate the crime can also be impounded, held, and ultimately sold by the state with proceeds going to the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest and vehicle seizure.

As with Minnesota DWIs, a prostitution charge is an “enhanceable offense,” meaning subsequent convictions yield greater penalties. A second time offense in two years is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and/or a $1,500 – $3,000 fine.

Along with the criminal consequences, there are also many civil consequences that come with a prostitution offense. A prostitution conviction stays on an offender’s criminal record. It is possible offenders will have to explain the charge when applying for jobs or renting an apartment. Likewise, a person with a prostitution conviction is barred from a number of activities involving children, for example coaching a youth soccer team.

The best possible defense against a prostitution charge is to simply not do it. If you or someone you know is addicted to prostitution, the best course of action is to seek help. The following is a list of several prostitution recovery programs: Minnesota Recovery, Sexual Recovery Institute, Recovery Connection.

Tune in next week for the final installment of Appelman Law Firm’s “Prostitution in Minnesota” blog series, where we’ll explain the best avenues of defense for prostitution charges.

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T.I. Sentenced to 11 More Months in Prison, instead of Rehab

T.I. JailOn Friday, October 15, renowned rapper T.I. (Clifford Harris, Jr.) was sentenced to 11 months in prison, following a September arrest for drug possession in L.A.

At the time of the arrest, T.I. was on supervised release following his previous 10-month prison sentence for federal weapons charges. Police found four ecstasy pills on his person, plenty to qualify as violation of his parole and to send the rapper back to prison for 11 months. Prosecutors, however, have opted not to press felony drug charges because of the small amount of contraband found and T.I.’s hefty prison sentence for parole violation.

At the sentencing, T.I. pleaded with the judge to send him to rehab instead of prison, exclaiming that he needed help for drug addiction. “I want drugs out of my life. If I can get the treatment and counseling I need … I can beat this,” T.I. reasoned with the judge. His pleas were not heard. The judge sentenced the 30-year-old rapper to 11 months in prison instead of rehab.

T.I. has made his share of mistakes, but he has also been attempting to make up for his past transgressions by seeking treatment and teaching inner-city youth about the dangers of drugs and guns. Unfortunately, the judge and prosecutors didn’t give him much credit. Prosecuting attorney Sally Quillian Yates asked the judge to give T.I. two years in prison because of his drug problems since leaving jail.

What many, including Ms. Yates, fail to realize is that another year in prison is not going to help T.I. with his drug problem. The rapper has freely and publicly admitted his chemical dependency issues. More prison time is not going to solve his drug addiction—it could in fact make it worse. T.I. clearly needs help in the form of rehabilitation. It is unfortunate that the judge and prosecuting attorneys are unable, or perhaps unwilling, to see this.

T.I. commenced his prison sentence on November 1, 2010.

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