Appelman Law Firm Attorneys Present on Criminal Law at University of St. Thomas

MN Criminal Defense AttorneyEarlier this month, Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorneys, Avery Appelman and Stacy Kaye, presented on Minnesota criminal law to the business law group at the University of St. Thomas.

The event was a roaring success! For two hours, the attorneys answered a wide range of questions about criminal law in Minnesota as well as how to successfully manage a small business.

Topics covered include:

Traffic violations
• Expungement
• Minor alcohol consumption

Appelman and Kaye were joined by co-presenter Blair Buccicone from the Anoka County Attorney’s office. Students promoted the event by advertising across campus with posters, fliers, and even sidewalk chalk. The students who attended the event were lively and engaged. It was obvious that they genuinely cared about the topics discussed.

“It was great to see such a passionate group of young people,” says Appelman. “Presenting at these types of events is one of the ways that we give back to the community. People deserve to know what their rights are, and we’re more than happy to provide this service.”

Check out photos from the event at the Appelman Law Firm Facebook page.

5 Myths About Prostitution in Minnesota

Minnesota ProstitutionThere are many common misconceptions about prostitution laws in Minnesota. In this article we’ll separate fact from fiction regarding Minnesota prostitution laws.

1. Myth: An officer cannot expose himself, or engage in sex with a provider prior to arresting her.

Fact: Police have been known to do both of these things to catch prostitutes. Do not assume that a client who exposes himself cannot be a cop. In State v. Morris, a Minnesota appeals court ruled that an officer exposing himself to a prostitute wasn’t extreme enough to reverse a conviction. Cops will go to incredible lengths to make arrests, and even experienced providers have been duped into incriminating themselves.

2. Myth: If a client has sex with a provider, the provider can’t get into trouble.

Fact: It is unlikely that an officer would actually have sex with a provider, but there have been cases in which police have hired civilians to participate in stings. These civilians could go through with the sex act and police would still be able to charge the provider.

3. Myth: Police only target prostitutes who work on the streets.

Fact: In many areas of Minnesota (and the US), more providers have been caught through postings on Craigslist and other websites than have been arrested on the streets. Prostitution has become an online business.

4. Myth: The client has to physically hand you the payment in order for you to be found guilty of prostitution.

Fact: Juries often conclude that an offer or agreement to have sex for money was implied by your words or actions. If the prosecution can prove that the client contacted you looking for sex, that you agreed to a meeting, and that he brought money to the meeting, you will likely be convicted whether or not any money was exchanged.

5. Myth: Prostitution is a petty crime with minor penalties.

Fact: The least serious prostitution charge is a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty for which is a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail. Prostitution offenses can also be classified as gross misdemeanors, punishable by a fine of up to $3,000 and a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail. Public acts of prostitution and solicitation of prostitution are generally charged as gross misdemeanors. Felony prostitution offenses involve minors, promoting prostitution, or prostitution-related racketeering charges and can lead to prison sentences of more than a year or fines greater than $3,000.

Read more about the laws and consequences of Minnesota prostitution in our Prostitution in Minnesota blog series.

Mel Gibson Arrested for Battery on Night of ‘Beaver’ Premiere

Mel Gibson BatteryFamous Actor and hound of the media, Mel Gibson, was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge last month on the night of the premiere of his new film The Beaver.

Gibson pleaded no contest to his charge of battery against his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva. He received three years probation, 16 hours of community service, and was ordered to attend a year-long domestic violence counseling program.

“By pleading ‘no contest,’ Gibson is essentially saying that although he didn’t commit the crime, the government has enough evidence to convict him,” says Criminal Defense Attorney Avery Appelman. “It is a very convenient way to get deals done because the defendant does not have to admit guilt, and at the same time gets the benefit of a negotiated settlement. Unfortunately, Minnesota doesn’t have the ‘no contest’ option—you either committed the crime or you didn’t.”

Gibson and Grigorieva have an infant daughter together. They have been deep in a custody battle for months now. Grigorieva also has a teenage son with actor Timothy Dalton (of brief James Bond fame).

Supreme Court Judge Stephanie Sautner also issued a protective order forbidding Gibson from making any threats or becoming violent with Grigorieva or her children. As long as Gibson complies with the order he is allowed to see his daughter.

Gibson, an academy award winning actor, has had a tough several years. He was arrested for DWI in 2006, and made several now famous anti-Semitic and racist remarks to the arresting officer. His new film “The Beaver” is his first major starring role since 2002.

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Man Goes to DWI Hearing with Beer in Hand

Man Brings Beer to DWI Court49-year-old New Yorker, Kieth Gruber, is currently being held in jail after showing up to his felony DWI hearing late, drunk, and carrying an open beer can.

Gruber appeared an hour and a half late to his hearing in Sullivan County. According to presiding Judge, Frank LaBuda, he was “obviously intoxicated” and carrying one open can of Busch beer in his hand, in addition to four other cans in a brown bag. After LaBuda asked Gruber if he had enjoyed his liquid lunch, the defendant apologized for his actions.

Gruber was arrested in late December for his most recent DWI charge. He was out on $30,000 bail, until his court appearance. He is now being held without bail.

It is clear that Gruber has a problem with alcohol addiction. Hopefully his defense attorney will realize the importance of getting Gruber into a chemical dependency facility as soon as possible.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” says DWI Defense Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “This man is obviously very chemically dependent, and in need of guidance. His actions are offensive to the court and to the judge. His defense attorney needs to ensure he’s getting the help he needs, specifically a chemical dependency evaluation by an expert and the recommended treatment. Jail isn’t going to do him any good. He needs serious rehabilitation.”

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US Soldier Faces Death Penalty for ‘Aiding the Enemy’

Bradley ManningBradley Manning, an intelligence specialist for the US military, is facing 22 charges related to claims that he contributed state secrets to Wikileaks. One of the charges is “aiding the enemy” — a charge that carries a potential penalty of death.

Manning is accused of stealing 150,000 confidential US government cables and giving more than 50 of them to an unauthorized individual. The charges could land Manning in prison for 52 years. Worst case scenario, he could even be sentenced to death.

For the “aiding the enemy” charge, “the enemy” is defined as “organized opposing forces in time of war but also other hostile body that our forces may be opposing such as a rebellious mob or a band of renegades.” It is unclear at this point who exactly Manning is charged with aiding. Some have speculated that it could be Wikileaks.

Manning is currently being held in a maximum security prison on Quantico, a Virginia marine base. He has been held there in solitary confinement for ten months. He is only allowed to leave his 6 ft. by 12 ft. cell for one hour a day. Many organizations, including Amnesty International are calling the treatment torture.

“This is not a freedom of speech issue,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “Manning’s actions have exposed the US government to ridicule. He proves that our government officials can’t keep their mouths closed when it comes to classified information. That being said, the death penalty is harsh. There will certainly be a consequence, but the death penalty is not likely.”

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MN Man Charged with 3rd Degree Murder in Blaine Drug Overdose

Blaine Drug OverdoseTimothy Richard Lamere, a 21-year-old man from Blaine, MN, has been formally charged with 3rd degree murder in connection with a drug overdose that hospitalized 10 and killed 1 last month.

On March 17, Lamere attended a house party in Blaine. He brought with him a drug called 2C-E. Witnesses allege that Lamere gave the drug to several partygoers, including 19-year-old Trevor Robinson, who ultimately died from the resulting overdose.

2C-E, commonly referred to as “Europa,” is a relatively new synthetic designer drug. It comes in the form of a pill and can be swallowed, or crushed to a fine powder and snorted or mixed into drinks. It has hallucinogenic effects similar to those of LSD. Authorities believe Lamere purchased the drug legally online. While many countries have outlawed the drug, 2C-E is still an unscheduled substance in the US, meaning that possessing or distributing the drug is not punishable by criminal sanctions.

Lamere faces a penalty of up to 25 years in prison and/or $40,000 in fines.

“This is a truly tragic case,” says Criminal Defense Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “What troubles me most is that this drug (2C-E) is legal to purchase in this state. As to Lamere’s charge, the fact that the drug is legal and that he didn’t force any of the victims to take the drug may ultimately limit his culpability.”

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Minnesota Woman Receives 10th DWI, Faces Prison Time

10 MN DWIsA Minnesota woman is facing possible prison time after receiving her 10th DWI charge. 53-year-old Cythia Mae Bearhart of Sandstone, Minnesota was arrested in February near Danbury, Wisconsin for her 10th drunk driving offense.

When the arresting officer pulled her over, he found Bearhart’s 23-year-old daughter passed out in the shotgun seat, as well as several empty beer cans on the floor of the vehicle, and an open Bug Light in the cup holder. Bearhart also tried to get out of a field sobriety test by faking an ear infection. The arresting officer called her bluff. When asked to recite the alphabet, Bearhart stopped at the letter “p” and told the officer: “That’s as far as I got in school.”

Bearhart’s preliminary breath test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.28—vastly greater than the legal limit of 0.08. She faces charges of felony drunk driving, operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license, and driving with an open container of alcohol.

Bearhart was formally charged by prosecutors in Danbury, Wisconsin. She is facing a potential sentence of 4 years in prison thanks to the state’s newly enacted minimum sentencing law.

If the charge had occurred in Minnesota, Bearhart would likely be charged with a 1st degree felony DWI. The mandatory minimum sentence for a 1st degree Minnesota DWI is 180 days in jail and a fine of $4,200. These penalties would likely be increased based on the offender’s sheer amount of DWI charges.

“Minnesota has long had mandatory minimum sentences for felony DWI offenses,” says Avery Appelman. “Furthermore, the sentencing guidelines provided for Judges by the legislature will oftentimes provide for prison sentences exceeding the four years that Ms. Bearhart is subject to in Wisconsin.”

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‘The Wire’ Actress Arrested in Real Life Drug Bust

The Wire Drug BustFelicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson, famous for her role on the HBO series ‘The Wire’ was arrested in a large scale drug bust in Baltimore last month.

Pearson is one of 64 suspects charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and other drugs in a bust authorities are calling “Operation Usual Suspects.” Police allege that Pearson has been involved with the drug ring since 2008. She is suspected of providing the operation with a large sum of money. The operation also had ties to New York and California.

On the critically acclaimed HBO series ‘The Wire’ Pearson played a character called ‘Snoop’—a savage, yet chillingly cavalier hit woman.

This is not Pearson’s first run-in with the law. She has a troubled past and even spent time in prison back in 1996 for a second-degree murder charge when she was only a teenager. It seems Pearson’s life is a little bit too similar to ‘The Wire’ than one would hope.

“Snoop may only have been a financier of the drug operation, but even so, being a willing participant in a conspiracy makes you as culpable as anybody else in that conspiracy,” says Criminal Defense Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “She will certainly be facing prison time; and with the feds involved, she is going to be looking at a sentence of years—most certainly in the double digits.”

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