2011 FBI Crime Report Shows Decline

On Monday, the FBI released their annual report tracking trends in violent and property crime across the United States in 2011. Last year’s reported violent crime has decreased 3.8 percent from the year before, marking a 5-year pattern of declining violent crime in the U.S. Property crime has also decreased from 2010, but by a much smaller margin of 0.5 percent.

Interesting Statistics from the FBI Report

In 2011, the South exhibited the highest incidence of violent and property crimes among United States regions, accounting for 41.3 and 43.2 percent reported nationally. Comparatively, the Midwest accounted for 19.5 percent of national violent crime and 21.1 percent of nationally reported property crime.

Among violent crimes, aggravated assault  made up the majority of reported incidents at 62.4 percent.

In murders nationwide, firearms were used in 67.8 percent of cases. Additionally, guns were involved in 21.2 percent of reported aggravated assaults.

The percentage of violent and property crimes cleared in 2011 was also revealed in the report. ‘Clearing’ involves either an arrest or a circumstance prohibiting arrest, such as the death of a suspect:

-64.8% of murder cases

-56.9% of aggravated assault cases

-41.2% of forcible rape cases

-28.7% of robbery cases

-21.5% of larceny-theft cases

-18.8% of arson cases

-12.7% of burglary cases

In contrast the FBI report is the Bureau of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) reported that property crimes in 2011 increased 11% from 2010, while violent crime rates remained the same. The NCVS data is collected through household survey.

If you are charged with a violent crime or a property crime in Minnesota, contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.

-11.9% of auto theft cases

Related Sources:

FBI Crime in the U.S. Report

BJS Criminal Victimization, 2011

How one man got two DWI’s in 21 hours

NO DWI20 year old Samuel Ness was pulled over for speeding early Saturday morning which led to his arrest on suspicion of DWI. Ness was booked into the Stearns county jail and released several hours later. However, just 17 hours after the first incident, he was pulled over again after police received a driving complaint. He was booked back into the Stearns County jail with charges for a 2nd DWI.

In another separate but related incident, 52 year old Dale Bidinger was arrested on Friday on suspicion of DWI and booked into the Stearns county jail. A few hours later his wife drove to the jail to pick him up, but because the sheriffs’ office requires people who are picking up inmates to be sober they asked her to take a breath test. She blew over the legal limit for driving and was also arrested.

If you or someone you know is facing DWI charges, contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Appelman Law Firm.

Increased Minnesota DUI Patrols this Halloween Weekend

drunk pumpkinMinnesota Police Officers and State Troopers will be increasing DUI patrols this weekend in an effort to deter people from drinking and driving to and from Halloween parties.

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, 2342 people were arrested for DUI during the 2007-2011 Halloween weekends. In that same period of time seven people were killed and 24 injured due to drunk drivers.

Minnesota law enforcement agencies often increase DWI patrols on holiday weekends – New Year’s Eve and July 4th being two of the biggest.

Read our previous blog for some tips on how to prevent yourself and your loved ones from driving while intoxicated.


Related Sources:



8 Things to Remember During an Encounter with Police

We’ve written before on what you should and shouldn’t do when pulled over for DUI, but those tips don’t necessarily apply to every encounter you may have with the police. So here are 8 tips to remember during any police encounter.

  1. Respect the officer. Don’t mouth off or argue. Answer their questions politely.
  2. Remain calm and cooperate with the officer.
  3. Never touch the officer in any way.
  4. Refrain from making any statements about the incident (this includes where you’ve been, where you’re going, or how much you’ve had to drink). Anything you say will be used against you. Don’t give the officer a reason to arrest you.
  5. While you shouldn’t make any statements to the officer, you should provide them with your driver’s license, insurance, registration, and anything else needed for the officer to identify you.
  6. Document everything that happens during the encounter as soon as you can.
  7. Take down the officer’s name and badge number if you can.
  8. Contact an attorney right away after being arrested.

MN Gophers’ Assistant Coach Arrested for DUI

Saul Smith DUISaul Smith, Minnesota Gophers’ assistant coach was placed on unpaid leave after being arrested for DUI this weekend.

Smith, 32, was pulled over Saturday around 2:30 am for speeding and driving on the shoulder of 394. He was on his way home from a restaurant downtown. According to police reports, Smith blew a BAC of 0.18 – over twice the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08. This is his first DUI offense.

The University has placed Smith on unpaid leave for an indefinite amount of time while Smith’s case goes through the legal system.

“While we do not want to rush to judgment before the legal process proceeds, Coach Tubby Smith and I are taking this matter seriously,” said Norwood Teague, athletic director for the Gophers.

Even though this is Smith’s first drunk driving offense, his charges will likely be elevated because his BAC level was so high. In Minnesota, a DUI charge can be increased if there are any aggravating factors present at the time of arrest. One of these “aggravating factors” is having a BAC of .16 or higher. As such, Smith may be charged with a 3rd degree gross misdemeanor DUI, rather than a 4th degree misdemeanor DUI.


Related Sources:


Mbakwe Spared Jail Time for Probation Violation

In September, Minnesota Gopher’s basketball player Trevor Mbakwe was convicted on DUI charges in Minnesota. This week, Mbakwe was back in court on charges stemming from violating his probation order. Today, Miami-Dade county judge Jose Fernandez opted away from jail time and sentenced the troubled basketball forward to two additional years of probation.

At the time of his drunken driving arrest in July, Mbakwe was currently on probation stemming from 2009 felony battery charges in Florida. Mbakwe’s criminal defense attorneys eventually reached a monetary settlement with the alleged victim, the amount of which is dependent on Mbakwe’s possible draft into the NBA.

According to Judge Fernandez, Mbakwe was not given jail time following his probation violation because he is “still amenable to treatment” and has the “ability to turn himself around”. In addition to the two years of probation, Mbakwe’s sentence also includes 20 hours of community service, mandatory attendance of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and meet with a sports psychologist.

Despite his legal troubles, Mbakwe has maintained his Gopher status on the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team. According to coach Tubby Smith however, “he’s lucky to still be here”. Smith was initially planning on booting the player off the team, but eventually opted to suspend him instead.



DWI Electronic Home Monitoring Explained

ehmFor many DWI and drug offenders, electronic home monitoring is a favorable alternative to jail time. Under the governance of the home monitoring system, offenders have the opportunity to serve their sentence from home and check in with the court at specified times.

Although home monitoring may seem an ideal solution, there are several potential drawbacks. One of our former clients reports that the ankle monitor was extremely uncomfortable and chaffed her skin. Additionally, one is not able to use any lotions, perfumes, or other body products containing even trace amounts of alcohol while wearing the bracelet. In another case that we blogged about, a West Virginia man sued his county, claiming that his ankle monitor caused an infection which required surgery.

In Hennepin County, program participants are required to adhere to a number of rules to remain eligible for home monitoring. Participants must first pay a $30 booking fee. They will then be assessed a program fee of $16 per day. Offenders must have a registered, verifiable residence where they must live for the entirety of the program. They must also have a telephone line which does not have features such as voicemail and caller ID.



Drunk Driver Hits 6 Pedestrians near U of MN

A drunk driver struck and injured 6 people at a crosswalk near the U of MN campus on Sunday afternoon around 3 pm.

32-year-old Kristine Peterson was reportedly drunk driving on Sunday afternoon when she took a left turn at Oak Street and Washington Avenue and hit 6 people who were crossing the street. She claims she didn’t see them.

The six pedestrians involved in the incident all had varying injuries – from scrapes and bruises to broken bones. Three were taken to the hospital by hospital, while the other three were able to drive themselves to the hospital.

Peterson was over the legal drinking limit of 0.08 during the time of the accident, and was thus charged with a DUI.

“In addition to the DUI charge, Peterson could potentially face up to 6 counts of criminal vehicular operation,” says criminal defense attorney Avery Appelman. “Criminal vehicular operation of a vehicle involves negligence behind the wheel that results in bodily harm. Depending on the severity of the injuries, she could be facing years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. The exact charges and penalties are up to the county attorney.”

Related Source: Startribune.com

Jerry Sandusky Gets 30-60 Years Behind Bars

We have followed the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal since the news broke nearly a year ago.  This week, the saga has neared end.  Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

In June, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse-related crimes including:

  • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse,
  • Indecent assault,
  • Criminal intent to commit indecent assault,
  • Unlawful contact with minors,
  • Corruption of minors, and
  • Endangering the welfare of children

His charges stemmed from the abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. Sandusky became acquainted with the victims through his charity The Second Mile, an organization founded to assist underprivileged children and their families.

The maximum penalty for all of Sandusky’s convictions was 400 years.  Judge John Cleland sentenced the 68-year-old to 60 years behind bars, giving 112 days credit for time served. Sandusky will be eligible for parole in 30 years. Judge Cleland also declared the former coach a sexually violent offender. This designation will require Sandusky to participate in specialized programs and will determine his housing placement in prison.

Throughout the scope of the case, Sandusky and his family have insisted on his innocence. Sandusky maintained “I did not do these disgusting acts”. However, Sandusky did not protest the judge’s decision to label him a sexually violent offender.

Jerry Sandusky and his criminal defense attorneys now have until next Friday to appeal the sentence and the conviction. According to Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola, they intend to do just that. We will continue to follow the progress of the case should Sandusky’s defense team follow through with their plan to appeal.

Jerry Sandusky is only part of a larger problematic we’ve dubbed The NCAA Sex Scandal:

  • The case continues for former Penn State administrators who are charged with failing to report allegations of sexual abuse.
  • Poly Prep high school football coach Phil Foglietta is accused of being involved in a complex child prostitution ring that is alleged to also have included Jerry Sandusky.
  • Minnesota State University head football coach Todd Hoffner has been charged with two counts of felony child pornography.
  • Syracuse head basketball coach Bernie Fine was accused of molesting two university ball boys. Due to the statute of limitations, Fine was not charged.
  • Although not affiliated with college sports, former MN prep school teacher Lynn Seibel was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct against children and possession of child pornography.

Related Sources:



USA Today

Former MN Prep School Teacher Facing 178 Years for Sex Crimes; School May Have Known and Not Reported

It’s yet another case of a predatory educator and an institution failing to respond to allegations. Lynn Seibel, a drama teacher at Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school, was charged with a laundry list of sex crimes against children.

The former Faribault is now facing two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of solicitation of a child to engage in sexual conduct, and 12 counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual. The charges stem from allegations of the abuse of 6 students between 1996 and 2003. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has become involved in the case and is investigating allegations that the school was made aware of Seibel’s misconduct in 2001.

Seibel was fired from Shattuck-St. Mary’s in 2003 after his computer was found to contain images of child pornography. However, the school did not report its findings to any law enforcement agency and Seibel was never charged as a result of those findings. This August, Seibel was charged in Los Angeles County with one count of possession of child pornography. He pleaded not guilty at arraignment.

The molestation case was brought to the attention of law enforcement this June when a young man in the Olmstead County correctional system told an officer that Seibel had forced him and other students to fondle themselves in front of him.

According to agent Drew Evans, the BCA is currently investigating the school’s knowledge of the abuse and stated that the institution could ultimately face charges of failing to report the crimes. This is strikingly similar to the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal, where the institution was also charged with having knowledge of child sexual abuse and not reporting it to authorities.

At the time of his arrest for child pornography charges in August, Seibel was living in Los Angeles and working as an actor, appearing in an episode of the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”.

If convicted on all charges, Seibel would face serious and lengthy penalties:

The Charges against Lynn Seibel




Max. Penalty

Total Possible Penalty


2nd-degree criminal sexual conduct

25 years; $35,000 fine

50 years; $70,000 fine


Solicitation of a child to engage in sexual conduct

3 years; $5,000 fine

3 years; $5,000 fine


4th-degree criminal sexual conduct

10 years; $20,000 fine

120 years; $240,000 fine


Possession of child pornography

5 years; $5,000 fine

5 years; $5,000 fine

Total possible penalty:

178 years; $320,000 fine

Sexual misconduct and pornography involving minors are very serious offense which can carry very serious penalties. Every person charged with a crime has the constitutional right to an attorney. If you or someone you know is arrested for or charged with any degree of sex crime in Minnesota, an experienced MN criminal defense attorney needs to be the first person you contact.

Related Sources:

Star Tribune

Kare 11

Minnesota BCA