Category Archives: Criminal Defense

Kid Arrest

Locking Up Kids Leads to Adult Criminals

A report by Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. suggests that locking up youths for juvenile crimes leads to an increased likelihood that they’ll return to prison as an adult offender.

Instead of pushing for jail time, the advocacy group said prosecutors and judges should focus on making sure the juvenile offenders get the help they need – something they say it unavailable when the youth gets deeper into the juvenile justice system.

“Institutions provide virtually none of the supports the community can,” the YAP said in a statement. “Youth need to learn how to function and make good decisions within the community, and having the support of caring, competent adults and access to safe and positive people, places and activities is what leads to good long-term outcomes. Kids can’t access these supports in isolation.”

The Department of Juvenile Justice said as the number of beds in one state’s juvenile facilities declined, so too did youth arrests, felony juvenile arrests, and transfers to adult courts. The YAP believes more children are being rehabilitated through probationary programs and mental health counseling than by spending their time behind bars.

“Risk factors that make you vulnerable to incarceration cannot be eliminated through incarceration,” the YAP cited in their report. “In fact, many of the environmental and social factors that contribute to youth incarceration get worse, not better, with incarceration.”

In their report, the YAP cites a program at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center to back up their assertions. The Center put 3,523 high-risk youth through an intensive community-based program and found that nearly 90 percent remained arrest-free during their tenure, which is much higher than the average youth recidivism rate.

Related source: The News Service of Florida

Fatal DUI

St. Paul in Top 10 for Fewest Fatal DUIs Per Capita

A new study examining fatal alcohol-related car crashes in large metropolitan areas found that St. Paul, Minnesota, is in the Top 10 for fewest alcohol-related driving deaths per capita. Additionally, no Minnesota cities were named in the Top 25 cities with the most alcohol-related fatal car crashes.

The study published by examined car crash data from cities across the US from 2010-2012. To analyze how citizens in one state dealt with a DUI compared to those in another state, researchers also tracked:

  • Average car insurance premium
  • Average car insurance premium after a DUI
  • Total number of fatal alcohol-related car crashes
  • City population
  • Fatal alcohol-related crashes per capita

The Best and the Worst

California led the way in cities with the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths per capita, as two California cities cracked the Top 5 and four made their way into the Top 10. See the chart below for the cities with the highest rate of fatal alcohol-related car accidents per capita.

1. San Bernadino, CA

2. Mobile, AL

3. Riverside, CA

4. Tulsa, OK

5. Lubbock, TX

While California may hold the dubious distinction of having four cities in the Top 10 of the above list, they also claimed the top three spots on the list of cities with the fewest fatal alcohol-related car crashes. The five major cities with the fewest deaths are:

1. Moreno Valley, CA

2. Glendale, CA

3. Santa Rosa, CA

4. Arlington, VA

5. Aurora, IL

Although it didn’t crack the Top 5, St. Paul finished as the ninth best city for fewest fatal alcohol-related crashes.  Only 0.0140 residents per 1,000 perished in such an accident between 2010-2012.

Also, car insurance premiums in St. Paul didn’t spike very much compared to other states. Research shows that the average St. Paulian can expect their insurance to rise about 30 percent after a DUI. Conversely, residents in Durham, North Carolina, can expect their insurance to increase an average of 157 percent after a DUI.

For more information about the study, head on over to NerdWallet.

Minnesota Immunization Laws

New Immunization Laws in Minnesota 

Summer is in full swing, but the next thing you know your kids will be lining up at the bus stop as another school year begins. While books and school supplies may be at the top of your back-to-school shopping list, don’t forget about Minnesota’s new immunization laws that are set to go into effect in September.

If you want to avoid a last minute doctor’s appointment you’ll want to make sure your son or daughter is in compliance with the state’s new guidelines. The changes that go into effect in September include:

  • Requiring Hepatitis A and B vaccinations for all children enrolling in childcare or early-childhood programs in a school setting.
  • Replacing the current 7th grade tetanus-diphtheria vaccine with another that includes the pertussis vaccination.
  • Requiring all students to receive the meningococcal vaccination prior to entering 7th grade.

Health officials say parents can decide not to vaccinate their child, but they must go through the appropriate channels. In order to be eligible for the school year, a child must have their vaccinations or have their guardian apply for a medical or conscientious exemption.

Stay Up To Date

The new law will go into effect beginning September 1, but those aren’t the only vaccinations a child needs to stay in good standing with the school. The Minnesota Department of Health has come out with a handy chart to make it easier for parents to stay in the know when it comes to what shots their children need.

Click here to check out the immunization chart, or visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for more information.

You can also find the updated Student Immunization Form on the MDoH website. This helps you keep track of the dates your child received his or her shots, and it has exemption information if you wish to file an exemption.

Related source: MDoH

Minnesota Speeding Ticket

Speed Demons Beware: Minnesota Amps Up Speeding Patrols

Speeders should lay off the gas pedal for the next 10 days as nearly 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies will be conducting extra speed patrols through July 27 in an effort to reduce the number of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths on Minnesota roads.

Speed is one of the leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes. An average of 78 people die and 222 are seriously injured each year in Minnesota as a result of traveling at unsafe speeds. Alcohol and distracted driving are two other factors that contribute to auto accidents, but speeding is by far the biggest issue. That’s exactly why law enforcement agencies around the state are set to amp up patrols for the next 10 days.

“Far too many motorists ignore speed limits and put all of our lives at risk on the road by speeding,” said Donna Berger, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety Director. “There’s greater potential to lose control, you have less time to avoid a crash, and the chances are higher of being killed or seriously injured.”

The Office of Traffic Safety also notes that, in the long run, speeding doesn’t save much time. A 30-minute commute at 65 mph will only save a person about five minutes compared to traveling at the posted speed limit of 55 mph, and that doesn’t factor in how long a traffic stop with a police officer may take.

Speeding Ticket Fines in Minnesota

The average cost of a speeding ticket in Minnesota is $120 for a person traveling 10 mph over the posted speed limit. That number doubles to roughly $250 if the person is driving at least 20 mph over the posted limit, and anyone ticketed at speeds over 100 mph can have their license revoked for six months.

Avery Appelman said he routinely challenges the legality of traffic stops for his clients, but it can become an uphill battle if the driver was excessively speeding.

“There are many ways to fight a traffic ticket,” said Appelman. “But the easiest way is to avoid them all together. I’m not saying you need to be under the posted speed limit at all times, but go with the flow of traffic, and avoid being ‘that guy’ who bobs and weaves through four lanes of traffic just to save himself a few seconds. When you speed you are endangering everyone on the road, your wallet and your driver’s license.”

Related source: MNDOT


Violence Mars Home Run Derby 2014

All eyes were on Minneapolis on last night as some of baseball’s biggest stars took center stage at the 2014 Home Run Derby. Fans expected to see a show, but they were instead treated to a crime spree that would make Bonnie and Clyde blush.

After the event unfolded police charged Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes with 30 counts of assault with a deadly weapon after he violently smashed 30 baseballs towards spectators who had unwisely chosen to sit in the left field bleachers. Cespedes could face punishments of up to 20 years in jail and fines up to $20,000 If he is found guilty of Assault in the First Degree.

Cespedes wasn’t the only All-Star who faced charges at the end of the night. Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was booked on a Weapons Charge for carrying his Louisville Slugger bat in a crowded area. Authorities decided to move forward with charges after witnessing Stanton hit a baseball that was projected to travel 511 feet.

And last but not least, Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig was taken into custody on a Breach of Contract violation. Puig entered the Home Run Derby with much fanfare, but he failed to hit a single ball over the fence. Authorities felt that his inability to hit a single home run during a home run exhibition was enough of an injustice to charge the young slugger with Breach of Contract.

Despite their alleged crimes, all three players are expected to participate in the 2014 All-Star game, which gets underway at 7 p.m. tonight.

Josh Gordon

Browns Wide Receiver Gordon Arrested For DUI

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was arrested for driving under the influence over the Fourth of July weekend after he was pulled over at 3 a.m. for driving 50 mph in a 35 mph zone.

The drunk driving arrest is just the latest incident in what has been a tumultuous offseason for the troubled wide receiver. Earlier this summer Gordon’s league-administered drug test turned up positive for a substance banned under the NFL’s drug policy. First time offenders face a four game suspension for violating the policy, but this wasn’t the first time Gordon failed a test. He tested positive last season, and although he had his suspension reduced from four games to two, the league likely isn’t going to take a second violation lightly.

A second positive test means that a player is subject to a one-year suspension, so Gordon was already facing the possibility of missing an entire season prior to his latest arrest. It’s a sad fall for a player who appeared to be on a meteoric rise, as he led the league in receiving yards in 2013 despite missing the first two games due to his suspension.

Drunk Driving Arrest

According to the police report, Gordon was driving PJ Hairston’s car when police stopped him. Hairston, the 26th overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, is no stranger to controversy. Authorities asked Gordon to take a breathalyzer test that revealed he was operating the vehicle with a 0.09 blood alcohol content, just barely over the 0.08 legal limit.

Adding to his troubles, the DUI arrest wasn’t the first time he’s ran into problems this offseason while driving a car. Back in May, Gordon was issued a speeding ticket in Ohio. Not that big of a deal, until you consider that one of Gordon’s co-pilots was found to be in possession of marijuana.

So between Gordon’s troubles at Baylor, his two failed drug tests, his DUI and his known association with drug users, it’s safe to say the receiver isn’t going to get much leniency from the league or a judge. Geoff Saltzstein, criminal defense attorney and avid Cleveland Browns fan, had this to say about Gordon’s arrest.

“Between Gordon driving drunk and Johnny Manziel rolling $20’s in the bathroom it’s safe to say that it hasn’t been the ideal offseason for my beloved Browns. Johnny Football aside, Gordon needs to get his act together. The one thing he has going for him is that all these incidents occurred in a rather short time period.

What’s most likely going to happen is that Gordon will, at the recommendation of his family, friends and attorney, voluntarily check himself into rehab. Self-admittance to a rehabilitation center shows the league and the court that he wants to get help. He already faced a 16-game suspension from the NFL, so the DUI bust will probably only strengthen the NFL’s case, but it’s possible he could have missed the entire season even without the latest incident. As for the DUI, he was barley over the legal limit, and if he does indeed check himself into rehab I doubt the judge will lay down the hammer. I’m guessing a fine and some community service.

So while I don’t think we’ll see Gordon in the league this season because of his second failed drug test, I don’t believe he’ll go to jail over the DUI arrest.”

Related source: USA Today

Duluth body cameras

Duluth Police Begin Wearing Body Cameras 

Just last week we suggested that Minnesota could reduce officer-involved incidents and complaints if they would simply outfit police officers with body cameras. One department has implemented that suggestion, and we believe both the authorities and the public will benefit from the move.

All Duluth police officers have been outfitted with body cameras to record interactions with the public in hopes that the video evidence will cut down on investigation times and provide a third-party account to corroborate incident reports.

The Duluth PD said the video is uploaded at the end of each shift, but the department will not be conducting random viewing of the tapes unless it is necessary for an investigation. They also noted that they have trained their officers to hit record prior to any interaction with a civilian, as the camera does not record 24/7.

All things considered, outfitting the entire force with cameras did not break the bank. The department said the devices cost about $300 a pop, and with 97 uninformed officers on staff, the total bill came in south of $30,000. That’s a small price to pay considering recent evidence suggests that cameras reduce complaints and lawsuits against the department, which can result if 6- and 7-figure payouts.

If the program is successful in Duluth, look for Minneapolis to follow suit. The Minneapolis Police Department has already stated that they have begun buying cameras for their officers, but they plan to roll out the program on a much smaller scale on a trial basis, assuming there are no hiccups.

Avery Appelman Comments

As a purveyor of justice I am glad to hear the Duluth Police Department has outfit all of their officers with body cameras. Far too often in the court of law you run into a case where it’s a client’s word versus the word of the cop. The wrong judge may be predisposed to take the word of the officer over the word of the citizen. If an officer knows he can get away with something because his word will be held in higher esteem, they can bend and break the law as they please.

The cameras will provide an objective, third-party account of any interaction between an officer and a citizen. If there is a question as to who escalated the incident or if the suspect was resisting, all the court will need to do is review the tape.

Lake Minnetonka

Minnesota Man Leads Police on High-Speed Boat Chase

A Minnesota man led police on a high-speed boat chase on a busy lake over the Fourth of July weekend.

Police eventually apprehended Ryan Krueger, 33, after a five-minute long chase on Lake Minnetonka. According to the police report, authorities were tipped off to a possible domestic disturbance around 9 p.m. As a police boat got near the alleged disturbance, Krueger punched the throttle and attempted to outrun authorities.

Doug Ellefson, who lives on Lake Minnetonka, said the boat was traveling between 30-40 miles per hour as it attempted to elude authorities.

“It was exciting. It’s relatively quiet with the no wake zone,” said Ellefson. “He raced by us with two sheriff boats chasing him. It’s certainly something we don’t see every day.”

Cause For Concern

While the elusive escapade may have been entertaining for Ellefson and his family, the high-speed chase put many boaters in danger. Ellefson said the chaotic scene took a scary turn when he spotted a baby on board the boat.

“With that amount of craziness, and a little baby involved, it was frightening,” said Ellefson.

Authorities pursued Krueger into nearby Maxwell Bay where he was cornered by two other police boats that joined the chase. He now faces felony charges for fleeing an officer, and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the domestic matter.

Avery Appelman comments

It’s never a good idea to run from the authorities, be it on foot, in a car or on a boat. You’ll only make it worse.

The best thing you can do is pull over, talk to the cops in a polite tone, and respectfully decline to answer any questions until you can speak to an attorney. Doing this will put you in a good light with the court system, and it will give you the best chance to beat any potential charges.

Related source: KSTP

Violent Crime mn

Violent Crime In Minnesota On The Rise

Authorities believe a growing drug trade in Minnesota is the main reason why violent crime increased in 2013.

The findings are part of a comprehensive crime report released by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Tuesday. After comparing the data to 2012 findings, the MCBA discovered:

  • The murder rate increased 21 percent in 2013.
  • Although burglaries were down, the value of the stolen items taken during a robbery or motor vehicle theft increased in 2013.
  • There were 559 more narcotic-related arrests last year than in 2012.

Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi believes the last statistic is the reason violent crime is increasing across the state.

“I think the violent crime is definitely drug driven,” said Amazi. “I think the methamphetamine obviously plays a role in that, but I also see that the heroin and prescription painkillers are definitely driving that as well.”

Amazi said the issue is two-fold. She noted that more drugs are entering Minnesota, and released convicts aren’t getting the necessary counseling to rid them of their habits.

“Probably about 95 percent are in jail because of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both,” Amazi said. “We don’t very often arrest sober people.”

Amazi said the first stage of intervention needs to come from family and friends, but that can be problematic if those individuals abuse drugs too.

“Only the first names are changing in our jail and that’s probably the biggest issue,” said Amazi. “The family is definitely the biggest issue in combating drug abuse.”

To see the 183-page report in it’s entirety, click here.

Related source:

Police Body Cameras

Police Body Cameras Would Cut Crime

If you’ve been following the debate over whether or not police officers should wear mounted cameras while they are out on patrol, you’re probably familiar with the experiment in Rialto, California.

Back in 2012, officers in Rialto decided to equip themselves with body cameras for one year to see if they would help reduce complaints and provide stronger evidence in “he said, she said” situations. At the end of the year, the Rialto police department crunched the numbers and found:

  • Use of force by officers dropped by 60 percent (61 compared to 25).
  • Complaints against officers fell by 88 percent (24 compared to 3).

Video evidence collected during citizen encounters was also used to support an officers re-telling of events in many cases. In all, the body camera trial was a rousing success.

So Why The Hesitancy?

Despite the findings in the Rialto study, precincts and departments are still leery about outfitting their officers with cameras. As the Associated Press puts it, “most law enforcement officials [say that] the lack of clear guidelines on the cameras’ use could potentially undermine departments’ goals of creating greater accountability of officers and jeopardize the privacy of both the public and law enforcement officers.”

To us, that just sounds like an excuse to bury the issue under a gob of bureaucratic red tape. Rialto police chief Williams A. Farrar had the right idea when he said, “When you put a camera on a police officer, they tend to behave a little better, follow the rules a little better. And if a citizen knows the officer is wearing a camera, chances are the citizen will behave a little better.”

It’s a no-lose situation. Citizens don’t need to fear excessive force or an officer who doesn’t know the law, and officers don’t have to fear a frivolous suit by someone looking for a payday.

Attorney Mel Welch extrapolated on the point, saying that there were a few key reasons why body cameras would be beneficial.

“It is a win-win for all involved to have law enforcement wear cameras: there is objective evidence to corroborate their accounts of an incident,” said Welch. “It keeps law enforcement honest, which is important because:

  • They have guns; and
  • They have the authority to use those guns;

Also, this will help expedite the wheels of justice because those accused:

  • Will not have their backs up against a proverbial and literal wall as a result of police abuse; and
  • They will be able to rely better upon the objective account of evidence in coming to terms with the accusations.”

You can make the case that the cameras are too costly, and in some cases they may be, but don’t tell us it could “undermine accountability.” When you factor in the money they’ll save by preventing frivolous suits, it’s not hard to see how the cameras could quickly pay for themselves.

Related source: AP, Web Pro News