Category Archives: Domestic Abuse

Minnesota Sex Offender

Minnesota Sex Offender Reform Report Published

As we mentioned back in August, experts tasked with reviewing Minnesota’s current sex offender program asked to have their report deadline pushed back until mid-November. Today, they published their findings in a comprehensive 108-page report.

In all, the experts issued a list of 44 recommended changes for the program. Some of the most prominent recommendations include:

  • The state’s civil commitment statute should be modified to ensure it only applies to sex offenders and those at the highest risk for recidivism.
  • Expediting the process to move the only female resident to another location.
  • Re-evaluating each resident to see if they truly meet the criteria for commitment.
  • Institute a discharge plan for an offender as they are admitted to the program. The old program left many with ambiguous guidelines and little hope of being released.
  • Both the state and the program should begin preparing communities to meet the needs of future discharged residents.

The report mirrors a state task force finding from 2013 which stated that the current sex offender reform system “captures too many people and keeps too many of them too long.” Officials at the Department of Human Services are currently reviewing the 108-page report to determine the state and the program’s next move.

When you look at the data, it’s hard to suggest the program has been anything but a life sentence for current offenders. Under the program’s 20-year history, of the more the 700 offenders admitted to the program, only two have ever been discharged.

In addition to the changes proposed in the report, the program faces another obstacle in the form of a class action lawsuit. A group of sex offenders has sued the state claiming the old process was a violation of their due-process rights. Their case is expected to presented to a judge in February.

Related source: Star-Tribune, Pioneer Press

 

Peterson case

Report: Peterson To Plead No Contest To Misdemeanor

Adrian Peterson is expected to plead no contest to one count of misdemeanor reckless assault at his hearing this afternoon.

The deal would still need to be accepted by the presiding judge, but it seems unlikely the judge would deny the two sides their agreed resolution. Under the proposed deal, Peterson would:

  • Pay a $2,00 fine.
  • Be placed on probation.
  • Ordered to preform 80 hours of community service.
  • Have his adjudication deferred two years, meaning the plea deal could be thrown out if he violates any probation guidelines set forth in the next two years.

As for Peterson, the agreement means the felony charge would be reduced to a misdemeanor, and the amended charge would make no reference to family violence or violence against a minor. Previously, Peterson faced the possibility of up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine under the felony charge.

What’s Next?

As we mentioned yesterday, Peterson isn’t out of the woods yet. Although his legal issues may soon be resolved, Peterson still has be reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell and welcomed back by the Vikings.

There was also the issue of Peterson admitting to smoking pot, but according to ESPN it’s going to be difficult to prove whether he smoked marijuana before or after he was given his bond conditions.

Even though his legal issues appear to be coming to an end, we stand by yesterday’s prediction that Peterson will not suit up for the Vikings the rest of the way. The team is on a bye this week before they enter the final seven-game stretch to end the year. Peterson is probably still near game shape and certainly still has knowledge of the offense, but the biggest thing working against him is the Ray Rice situation and the public perception of domestic and child abuse.

Ray Rice was suspended for the remainder of the year and cut by the Ravens after video surfaced of him punching his now-wife Janay Parker. Many voiced their displeasure in Roger Goodell after the commissioner only initially suspended Rice for two games, and the Ravens only released Rice after mounting backlash from the video. Rice’s incident has led to two common themes:

1. The NFL has decided to take a harsher stance against violent offenders, as they instituted a six-game suspension for incidents of domestic violence. They also don’t want the public perception of being lenient on crime.

2. Teams need walk a tight line between distancing themselves from violent offenders and wanting to win. Nobody doubts that Peterson gives the team the best chance to win, but at 4-5, the team may decide distancing themselves from Peterson will do more good than hoping he can guide them to a 6-1 or 5-2 record in the final seven games. The last thing the team wants is to hurt its public image and miss the playoffs.

Final verdict – We still think it’s a long shot that Peterson will play this season.

 

Adrian Peterson

Peterson Could Reach Plea Deal in Child Abuse Case

Adrian Peterson and his representatives are in talks with prosecutors to reach a plea deal in his child abuse case that could reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.

Peterson currently faces one felony count of reckless or negligent injury to a child after it was revealed he struck his 4-year-old son with a small stick as a form of punishment for misbehaving. According to a source close to the situation, Peterson is open to pleading in the case so long as the charge is reduced to a misdemeanor.

Not only would a misdemeanor charge greatly reduce Peterson’s potential jail sentence (Odds are he wouldn’t spend any time in jail under a plea deal), but it would also likely reduce any punishment handed down by the National Football League. Peterson is currently on the commissioner’s exempt list, meaning he must be reinstated before he can return to the Vikings.

The plea deal could be reached as early as tomorrow, as both sides are scheduled to appear before the judge at 1:30 CT. Another issue that will be discussed at Tuesday’s hearing is Peterson’s admission that he smoked marijuana while out on bail. If he did in fact smoke pot, Peterson would be in violation of the terms set forth in his bond agreement. In the event that a deal isn’t reached, the marijuana admission could put Peterson behind bars until his case goes to trial.

Possible Outcome

As we mentioned above, it seems unlikely that Peterson will spend any time in jail assuming the two sides are able to strike a deal. Probation, community service and public speaking engagements are all much more likely outcomes.

As for the NFL side of all this, the league adopted a new personal conducted policy in wake of a few disturbing off-field incidents. The proposal calls for a six-game ban for anyone involved in a physical or domestic violence related altercation. Peterson could also face additional discipline for his marijuana admission, and of course, he still needs to be reinstated by commissioner Roger Goodell.

If we had to guess, although we’d venture to bet that Peterson won’t spend any time in jail, it’s still a longshot that he’ll return to the Vikings this season. Two potential suspensions loom, and there is still the negative stigma associated with his actions. Even if he’s reinstated, the Vikings may opt to keep him on the sidelines. We’d be surprised if #28 was back on the field for the Vikings this season.

Related source: ProFootball Talk, ESPN

South Minneapolis

Crime Rates Surge in South Minneapolis

An analysis of police statistics revealed that some historically safe South Minneapolis neighborhoods have seen a noticeable uptick in violent crime in the past year.

The Lake Nokomis neighborhood saw the biggest spike in crime, as violent crime rose 26 percent since last year. The community also saw an increase all four crimes that fall under the violent crime category. The four crimes that make up the violent crime category are:

  • Murders
  • Rapes
  • Robberies

Police spokesman John Elder said law enforcement plans to increase patrols in areas where crime has increased.

“We continue to add extra resources to the areas where we have seen this slight uptick in violent criminal activity,” said Elder.

Last year authorities increased patrols and civilian contacts in many North Minneapolis areas that had a higher than average crime rate, and it appears the added presence has been successful. Crime rates dropped in most Northeast and North Minneapolis communities where police intensified enforcement efforts.

“Our initiatives to increase firearms seizures from people not entitled to carry them has paid off and we certainly hope that has kept violent criminal activity increases to a minimum,” added Elder.

Despite the success in some North Minneapolis communities, overall crime is up five percent from last year, with 3,111 violent crimes on record. Police noted that although crime rates increased so far through 2014, the city of Minneapolis is still approaching 30-year-lows. This is consistent with national crime rates, which have also tapered off since the 80s and 90s.

Elder concluded by saying the war on violent crime is a constant, ever-changing battle.

“Every week we reassess where our criminal hot zones are and we continue to increase patrols and adjust shifts to combat these crimes,” Elder said.

Related source: Star-Tribune

Domestic Assault

Ramsey County Domestic Violence Sweep Huge Success

Ramsey County police took part in the 12th annual domestic violence crackdown on Wednesday, and officers say the sweep was a huge success.

Armed with 128 arrest warrants, 52 of Ramsey’s finest hit the streets before the sun came up to serve warrants to those in the area wanted on domestic violence charges. One of the first to be arrested was Kong Meng Yang, who jumped from a second story window and fled down an alley when cops came knocking at his door at 7 a.m. He was eventually apprehended with the assistance of a police K9.

Yang was one of 23 arrests made during the annual sweep, nearly double the arrests from last year when 92 warrants were served and 12 were arrested.

Sgt. Jesse Mollner said even though only about 20 percent of the suspects were apprehended, police made numerous contacts with friends and family members of suspects. They hope family members can get in contact with the individual and convince them to surrender. Mollner also said it helps the victims know they don’t take these cases lightly.

“The number of contacts we made today is actually just as important as taking people to jail,” Mollner said. “The families we talked to, the friends, the associates … they get the word out that the police are out in full force, that we’re taking care of victims and taking these crimes seriously.”

Part of Larger Sweep

The 12th annual domestic violence sweep was held in conjunction with the National Family Violence Apprehension Detail, an annual event aimed at bringing awareness to domestic violence and getting perpetrators off the streets. Hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the country participated in localized domestic violence sweeps.

Mollner added that the effects of the sweep are usually felt for weeks.

“We expect a flood of phone calls,” he said. “We usually end up taking twice as many people in during the weeks that follow the sweep than we do during the sweep itself,” he said.

The Ramsey County sherriff’s office, St. Paul police, Roseville police, the Dakota County sherriff’s officer, the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigation and Customs Enforcement all assisted in the area-wide sweep.

Avery Appelman Comments

These sweeps are great. Not only to they get suspects off the street, but in the long run, they also help both the victims and the suspects. If a suspect goes into hiding for a few months, the victim is left without resolution, and sometimes they continue to live in fear of their attacker.

That said, as a defense attorney, these sweeps are also beneficial for suspects. Like an unpaid credit card bill, ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away; In fact, it usually only makes it worse. Same goes with a legal case. If you have an active warrant, it’s not just going to go away on its own. Facing the consequences and moving on with your life is much preferred to hiding and always living in fear that today is the day you’ll be arrested. The longer you wait, the more the problem will snowball. Take responsibility, move forward with your life, and everyone will be better off. If you want to talk to an attorney before making any decisions, don’t hesitate to call us.

Related source: Pioneer Press

Adrian Peterson Child Abuse

Adrian Peterson Trial Set to Begin December 1

Adrian Peterson is tentatively set to appear in court on December 1 to defend himself against allegations of felony child abuse.

Peterson and his attorney Rusty Hardin did not enter a plea Wednesday, but a statement issued through the attorney said they plan to see the case through to the end.

“Adrian is going to trial – he is not looking for a deal,” Hardin said through a spokesman.

Peterson hasn’t played for the Vikings since the charges were made public, and the team is content to wait until the off-field drama plays out before deciding when to reinstate the star running back. The defense has asked for an expedited trial in an effort to salvage some of the remaining NFL season, so it’s possible that the trial could begin in November if other cases are removed from the docket.

Hardin said he’s looking forward to resolving the matter.

“Look, this is a really good man that I am incredibly proud to represent,” Hardin said of Peterson. “I would ask all of you to be please be tolerant to the fact that Adrian is chomping at the bit to publicly talk and to publicly defend himself, and the only reason he hasn’t is us insisting and jumping up and down and saying, ‘The solution is for you to get a speedy trial and resolve all this in a courtroom.'”

As we mentioned in a previous post, Peterson was initially charged with felony child abuse after pictures and text messages revealed that he struck his son with a small stick as a form of punishment. The child had visible marks on his legs, and although Peterson said he didn’t mean to hurt the child, the incident has left many debating appropriate parenting techniques and the court’s role in the matter.

“This is a case about parenting decisions and whether something unfortunate happened when a parenting decision was made by a man who believes strongly and loves his children very much,” said Hardin.

If convicted, Peterson could be sentenced to up to two years in state prison. A more likely punishment is some form of probation, and he may face additional penalties under the NFL’s new personal conduct policy.

Related source: AP, ESPN

Beer Theft

Beer Can Ties Burglar to Crime

A St. Paul man is wanted on a charge of second-degree burglary after DNA evidence left behind on a celebratory beer tied him to the home invasion.

Police are asking for the public’s help in tracking down James Autero Leavell, 41, who is the prime suspect in a Burnsville break-in.

According to the police report, a couple reported that their house had been broken into one afternoon while they were at work. The thief cut through a screen window and made off with an iPod, a video game system, a camera and a television. He might have gotten away with it too, if he hadn’t decided to celebrate his thievery with a cold beer from the fridge.

The couple phoned police after returning to the scene of the crime. While they were detailing the damage, they informed officers that neither of them were responsible for the empty beer can found at the scene. Officers bagged the evidence and sent it off for DNA testing. A short while later, the DNA sample returned with a positive match for Leavell, a St. Paul man with a rather extensive criminal history.

Leavell has prior convictions for felony burglary, aggravated robbery, theft, check forgery and domestic assault. He was recently released from prison after spending two years in jail stemming from the domestic violence incident.

Needless to say, the only reason Leavell’s trail is hot is because he decided to stick around and down a cold one. With critical thinking skills like that, don’t expect Leavell to be on the run for long. If you have any information about the suspect, contact the St. Paul Police Tip Line at 651-291-1111.

Related source:

Jonathan Dwyer

Cardinals RB Dwyer Booked For Aggravated Assault

The dark cloud hanging over the NFL two weeks into the season grew more ominous on Wednesday after Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested on charges of aggravated assault.

The incidents in question occurred back in July, so it’s either a smart move by the prosecutor to finally move forward with a case during one of the most tumultuous weeks in NFL history, or the league is simply on the wrong end of an unfortunate coincidence. Things don’t often happen by chance in the legal world.

According to the police report, neighbors called police after hearing a loud argument between Dwyer and his girlfriend. Police arrived on scene but left without making an arrest because Dwyer allegedly hid in the bathroom while his wife told police she was arguing with someone on the phone. A second incident supposedly took place the following day. Dwyer’s girlfriend said the running back threw a shoe towards his son and broke her cellphone so she could not call the police. The woman moved out of the state shortly thereafter, but came forward with the allegations last week, saying Dwyer, “was going to harm himself because of what had been going on.”

who throws a shoe gif
“Who throws a shoe? Honestly!”

Slew of Charges

Dwyer faces many charges for his actions, including:

• One count of aggravated assault causing fracture.

• One count of aggravated assault involving a minor.

• Two counts of criminal damage.

• One count of preventing the use of a phone in an emergency.

• One count of simple assault.

Dwyer was freed on $25,000 cash bond early this morning and ordered to wear an electronic tracking device. He has been forbidden from contacting the victims, from traveling out of the state of Arizona, and from using alcohol, drugs or possessing a weapon.

Dwyer admitted to police that arguments occurred during the two days in question, but he denies physically assaulting either his girlfriend or child.

NFL Future in Doubt

Dwyer was immediately deactivated from the team after the Cardinals were made aware of the incident, which they say they only learned about yesterday.

“Given the serious nature of the allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities,” the Cardinals announced in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor this as it develops and evaluate additional information as it becomes available.”

The NFL also announced it would review the arrest under the league’s revamped personal conduct policy.

Related source: ESPN

Adrian Peterson Child Abuse

Adrian Peterson Reinstated After Child Abuse Charges

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is expected to be back on the field Sunday when Minnesota takes on New Orleans after being reinstated by the team. Peterson was held out of this week’s game after he was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child.

The decision to reinstate Peterson is making waves among the talking heads at ESPN and other sports media outlets, and the Vikings owners made it clear that they understand the severity of the charges but they also want to let due process run its course.

“Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue,” owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf said in a statement. “To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action.”

Child Abuse Charges

The public first learned of the child abuse charges Friday afternoon, and the Vikings quickly made the decision to deactivate Peterson for the Sunday’s home opener. According to a statement from his attorney Rusty Hardin, the charges stem from an incident where Peterson used “a switch to spank his son.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a switch is basically a small twig or tree branch.

“Parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable,” Hardin said about the incident. According to the grand jury, Peterson’s actions exceeded a reasonable standard.

Peterson will make his first appearance on Wednesday, where he is expected to enter a plea. Peterson will appear in court over the next several weeks, but many involved in the case believe it will be a few months before the case goes to trial.

Child Abuse Penalties

Peterson was officially charged with one count of injury to a child and could be sentenced to up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. He could also be placed on probation and be forced to attend counseling.

In addition to penalties levied by the state of Texas, Peterson could face additional discipline from the NFL. The league recently announced a new domestic violence policy that includes any physical harm, so it’s certainly possible that Peterson would be subject to penalties. Under the new policy, a first time offender would receive a six game suspension and a second violation would result in a lifetime ban.

Related source: ESPN

Ray Rice Elevator

Ray Rice Cut By Ravens, Suspended by NFL For Domestic Violence

The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens took action against Ray Rice after new video evidence emerged showing the runningback punching his now-wife in a casino elevator.

The video, which can be seen below, shows Rice and his fiancé Janay Parker embroiled in an argument in a casino elevator. Parker moves towards Rice, and he throws a hard punch with his left hand. Parker strikes her head on the handrail as she falls, and she remains unconscious for a few minutes.

 

 

Rice was originally charged with felony assault, but Parker refused to testify and the charges were later dropped on the condition Rice seek court-supervised counseling. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for two games for the incident, which led to stark criticism from public. Feeling that he made a mistake in only suspending Rice for two games, Goodell created new suspension guidelines for anyone found guilty of domestic or physical assault. Still, the general public felt that both the NFL and the Ravens, who didn’t administer any further punishment, had dropped the ball in regards to Rice’s situation.

That is until yesterday, when “new” video surfaced that showed the punch in its entirety. Sensing that they could salvage their public image, the Ravens released Rice and Goodell suspended him “indefinitely.”

“It changed the course of things,” Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said of the video.

Cut the Crap

While some will argue that in the end, the team and the league made the right move to cut and suspend Rice, as attorneys, we don’t just look at the end result; we examine the whole process.

The biggest issue I have is that it’s impossible for me to believe that the NFL and the Ravens did not know this video existed prior to yesterday. For starters, the incident happened in a casino elevator. Everyone knows that there are cameras everywhere in a casino. Why would the elevator be any different? At the absolute least, the NFL should have inquired about the existence of a video recording inside the elevator. The casino surely knew they had video, so why did it take six months for the video to surface?

TMZ was the first to release the video to the public, and they took a strong stance against the NFL’s claims that they had no idea the video existed. TMZ’s Harvey Levin said the NFL knew of the video, and he claims to have proof of their knowledge.

“Prosecutors had this, police had it, I know people had this video, too,” Levin said. “The NFL, it almost feels like they didn’t want to know.”

It will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds if TMZ can back up their claims. At this point though, I must agree with Keith Olbermann, who blasted those who turned a blind eye to this domestic violence, including the league, the NFL, and the county prosecutors.

 

 

Related source: NY Times