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World Cup trophy

The World Cup: Red Cards, Pepe, and Assault

The World Cup is under way as 32 nations vie for the chance to call themselves champions of the world. With tension levels at an all-time high, it’s no surprise that players are sometimes left seeing red, literally and figuratively.

The first documented red card was handed out to none other than Peru’s Placido Galindo in 1930, and since then 161 more red cards have been handed out. Three red cards have been shown in the 2014 World Cup so far, which puts referees on pace to dish out 11 red cards this tournament, down from 17 in 2010. Before we get into why a criminal law firm is writing about soccer and red cards, here are some quick facts about red cards in World Cup history.

  • The Brazilians have received the most red cards in tournament history (11), followed by Argentina (10) and Uruguay (9).
  • Australia leads all countries in red cards on a per contest basis. One of their players receives a red card in 40 percent of their World Cup matches. Cameroon is a close second at 35 percent.
  • Spain has only received one red card in 56 World Cup matches.
  • Mexican referees have handed out the most red cards, with half of those cards shown to South American teams.

Punishing Pepe

After he was whistled for a foul on what he believed was world class acting by opponent Thomas Muller, Pepe decided to give the German a piece of his mind. Literally. He gave Mueller his forehead.

Despite the fact that Pepe’s forehead appeared to have miraculous healing powers,  (Did you see how quickly Mueller went from being injured to back on his feet after their heads touched?), you simply cannot headbutt an opponent on the pitch. While it wasn’t a violent headbutt like the one dished out by Zinedine Zidane back in 2006, Pepe’s headbutt still crossed the line.

We bring this up because had this incident occurred in the stands or in the workplace, the headbutter could find himself in legal trouble. According to Minnesota Statute 609.224 Assault in the Fifth Degree, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor offense if they:

  • Commit an act with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or
  • Intentionally inflict or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another.

A misdemeanor offense is punishable by upon to 90 days in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. Luckily for Pepe his only punishment is missing the remainder of the game against Germany and the following game against the United States.

Keep checking our blog for more criminal analysis of the World Cup as the tournament unfolds.

Related source:

Swearing Ticket

Michigan Town Ticketing For Swearing: What the @#%#! 

A 19-year-old attempting to fight a $200 citation had his appeal fall on deaf ears, which is ironic considering his ticket was for two words that were overheard by a local police officer.

The whole incident began back in April when Colin Anderson and some friends were hanging out in a parking lot in downtown Brighton, Michigan. An officer approached the teens and cited one member for skateboarding on private property. Anderson, upset that his friend was ticketed and that the group was told to vacate the premise, uttered four words.

“This is f—— bull—-.”

Anderson claimed that he said the words under his breath and no other parties heard the curse words, but that didn’t stop the officer from issuing him a $200 ticket for disorderly conduct under the clause that Anderson was breaching the peace. Anderson said he only swore because he thought the cops were unfairly targeting the teens.

“What got me to start arguing a little bit, they were asking all of us to leave because he got a ticket,” Anderson said. “That’s not fair. We’re just standing around.”

Brighton Police Chief Tom Wightman accused the teens of tomfoolery before the citations were handed out.

“That’s fine if they want to behave and use the facility like anybody else,” said Wightman. “It’s when they misbehave (that) it becomes an issue. We’re going to be watching.”

Contesting the Ticket

Anderson decided to challenge the ticket before a Livingston County District Court magistrate. He told the magistrate he had never before received a citation of any kind, and that he didn’t even get a warning.”

“[If he would have warned me] I would have respected his authority,” said Anderson. “I don’t think I deserve this ticket.”

Despite his plea, the magistrate upheld the citation. Anderson will have to pay the full $200 fine. He said he learned his lesson, even though he thinks it’s a stupid one and he should be allowed to express his Fourth Amendment rights within reason.

“It’s a bad idea to argue with cops,” he said.

Mel Welch comments

Add this unnamed officer to the list of policemen on a power trip who want to take advantage of the system. It reminds me of the officer who profiled the man with the Colorado license plate or the officer who claimed to smell marijuana so he could search a suspect’s car, even though no marijuana was found.

In each case, the officer evaluated the situation and determined that a court of law would give him the benefit of doubt over the suspect. In cases like this, a judge will be more inclined to believe the testimony of an “upstanding” cop than a “delinquent” teen. But not all cops are upstanding, and certainly not all teens are delinquents.

Anderson doesn’t deny swearing, but if everyone was ticketed for cursing the swear jar would overflow. I’m sure the officer wouldn’t have ticketed a 65-year-old lady if she said, “That f—— hurt like hell,” if she stubbed her toe in the same location where the teens were cited. It’s sad the way officers, and in some cases, the legal system as a whole, view teens and young adults as hoodlums and thugs based on their age and appearance. Anderson did not get just in this case.

Related source: USA Today

2013 Minneapolis Crime Statistics

Minneapolis Crime StatsThe city of Minneapolis recently released its final crime statistics for 2013, and although many of the numbers are encouraging, there is always room for improvement.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau spoke about the findings at a recent press conference, commending the city and its precincts for being tough on crime.

“The second precinct saw the largest crime reduction in the crime, “said Harteau.

Some Up, Some Down

Many of the statistics pointed to a downward trend in crime, but some specific crimes rose in 2013. Here are some of the findings from the annual crime report:

  • Violent crime was up by four percent in 2013, but it remains at one of the lowest levels in 30 years.
  • The number of homicides in Minneapolis fell in 2013.
  • Reported rapes declined in 2013.
  • Juvenile crime fell 4.6 percent in 2013.
  • Overall crime was up by less than one percent.

One of the biggest improvements in 2013 was how the city curbed the number of burglary crimes. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said good policing and community engagement were two reasons why “one hundred and sixty-seven fewer families experienced a burglary this year than they did last year.”

Continued Effort

Local leaders plan to make 2014 an even safer year for Minneapolis residents, and it starts by fostering relationships in the community, said Hodges.

“The solutions there have to do with policing but it also has to do with community relationships. It also has to do with whether or not we are doing job creation, housing,” said Hodges.

Julianne Leerssen, Executive Director of Neighborhood Hub in north Minneapolis, echoed Hodges’ sentiment.

“A lot of crime comes in my opinion in certain communities because there are not a lot of viable options for employment, education and housing and people are continuously struggling,” Leerssen said. “I think the community has got to be really involved.”

While the goal is to lower crime rates across the board, Harteau said two areas would get extra attention in 2014 – robberies and assaults.

Criminal Attorney Avery Appelman believes those are smart areas to focus on.

“Assault cases have been in the news in the recent weeks as there have been a rash of incidents on the U of M campus,” said Appelman. “I’m glad the police are taking a closer look at these incidents and are instituting a year-long plan to cut down on robberies and assaults in the Minneapolis area.”

Related source: Pioneer Press, KSTP

Ex-Viking Darren Sharper Arrested on Rape Charges

Darren SharperFormer Minnesota Vikings safety Darren Sharper was arrested Friday in Los Angeles on suspicion of rape, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Sharper was released from prison late Friday night on $200,000 bail, but his troubles are just beginning. The LAPD said they are investigating Sharper’s involvement in two separate sexual assaults that occurred in West Los Angeles in October and again earlier this month.

Another issue for Sharper is that the LAPD isn’t the only department looking into his past behavior. A report surfaced on Saturday that the New Orleans Police Department is investigating a separate sexual assault complaint filed in September against Sharper.

Remi Braden, spokesperson for the NOPD, said police are taking their time gathering evidence before moving forward with their case against Sharper.

“As with every case alleging sexual assault, information gathered is extremely sensitive and the top priority of the detectives is to protect the person who filed the complaint,” said Braden. “Because this is an on-going criminal investigation, we cannot provide additional information at this time.”

Sharper Suspended

As is often the unfortunate side effect of formal charges, Sharper was suspended without pay from his job as an analyst for NFL Network.

“Darren has been suspended without pay until further notice, effective immediately,” said NFL Network spokesman Alex Riethmiller.

Even if the charges are eventually dropped, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see Sharper in front of the lens for NFL Network again. Sharper’s case is similar in many respects to that of Harold Reynolds, an analyst for ESPN who was terminated amid allegations of sexual harassment. Reynolds eventually won an out of court settlement with ESPN over his termination, and he later returned to the screen with MLB Network, but the cloud of sexual harassment still follows him to this day.

Potential Sentence

While the exact charges aren’t known, it’s possible that Sharper could face many years in prison for his actions.

Had the alleged assaults occurred in Minnesota, Sharper would likely face charges of First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. A charge of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree carries potential penalties of:

  • 30 years in prison, and/or
  • Fines up to $40,000.

Sharper’s first court date in connection with the alleged sexual assaults in Los Angeles is on February 14.

Related source: First Coast News

Study Shines Ugly Light on Arrest Figures of Both White and Black Males

teen in handcuffsAccording to a new study published in Crime & Delinquency, nearly half of all black males and almost 40 percent of white males in the U.S. will have been arrested at least once by the time they are 23.

The study, which examined arrest data across age and race, found that a large portion of young males will have felt the cold steel of a pair of handcuffs by the young age of 23. Oftentimes these arrests can make it difficult for young adults to get a job or to get accepted to college.

“A problem is that many males – especially black males – are navigating the transition from youth to adulthood with the baggage and difficulties from contact with the criminal justice system,” said Robert Brame, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina and lead author of the study.

Race Results

When examining national arrest data from 1997 to 2008, researchers found:

  • By age 18, 30 percent of black males, 26 percent of Hispanic males, and 22 percent of white males have been placed under arrest.
  • By age 23, those numbers jump to 49 percent for African American men, 44 percent for Hispanic men, and 38 percent for white men.

The numbers paint a different story when looking at female arrest data.

  • By age 18, 12 percent of white females, 11.9 percent of Hispanic females, and 11.8 percent of black females will have been arrested.
  • By age 23, 20 percent of white females, 18 percent of Hispanic females, and 16 percent of black females will have been arrested at least once.

Brame said it’s very important that future studies examine the impact arrests can have on a young adult’s future. He said that as a society, there has been a lot of research on topics pertaining to the negative effects of lack of exercise or the psychological benefits of youth sports, but few studies have examined the consequential side effects of being place under arrest at a young age.

“As a society, we often worry a great deal about the effects of children watching television, eating junk food, playing sports and having access to good schools,” Brame said. “Experiencing formal contact with the criminal justice system could also have powerful effects on behavior and impose substantial constraints on opportunities for America’s youth.”

While Minnesota recently amended a law that prevents the public from accessing criminal histories of 16- and 17-year-olds, many of the crimes they commit in their youth stay with them well into their adult years.

Brame concluded by saying that these arrests put additional strain on a young adult’s personal and professional life.

“Criminal records that show up in searches can impede employment, reduce access to housing, thwart admission to and financing for higher education and affect civic and volunteer activities such as voting or adoption. They also can damage personal and family relationships.”

Related source: Crime & Delinquency,


Attorney Mel Welch Discusses Recent Theft Dismissal

Mel WelchToday, Criminal Defense Attorney Mel Welch opens up about a recent dismissal he received in a Minnesota theft case. Similar to another recent blog post by Mel, this case revolved around asking the court to consider if criminal intent truly existed. Congrats to Mel on obtaining justice for his client!

The Right Results

The right results sometimes have a way of working themselves out.

Nearly two years ago, one of our clients was hired to assist in removing trees and yard debris in preparation of a house for sale following a foreclosure. After he and his friend completed their tasks, they found themselves with some leisure time and – as the inquisitive human nature compels – found themselves admiring the property and architecture. During their perusal of the property, they observed a pile of detritus and miscellaneous items within the unlocked, rear three-season porch. The two entered the unlocked porch and helped themselves to what they thought was refuse, taking a bag of rags, a broken rake head, some windshield washer fluid, a couple refrigerator magnets and a diamond in the rough: a cigarette rolling device.

The residence’s neighbor observed the males removing the items and, as any good neighbor would, called the previous owner who contacted law enforcement. The perturbed previous homeowner informed police that he had not given the men permission to remove the items, expressing his anger that they were going through the items instead of fixing the septic system.

When law enforcement spoke with the men, they were both apologetic and honest with them, informing them separately of the same conduct that they believed the items were refuse (i.e., showing reliability of the statements given to law enforcement). Both men had no criminal history or other indications that they were involved in criminal conduct. Law enforcement themselves were understandable, stating that in foreclosure situations like this one it was typical that the items they removed typically are items which are abandoned and later thrown out. Law enforcement also expressed skepticism that the case would even be charged given the nature of the situation.

Penalties for Burglary

However, the case was charged by the county attorney and the men were facing felony charges which could land them in prison for up to 10 years and a $20,000 fine under a charge of Burglary in the Second Degree in violation of Minnesota Statute 609.582, subd. 2.

Burglary in the second degree requires the State to prove that the individual entered a dwelling without consent and with the intent to commit a crime – in this case theft, the intentional taking of the property of another. Here, even the investigating law enforcement understood that the suspects did not have the intent required to show the accused intended to steal.

Facing State Charges

This case is illustrative of the difficulties one finds themselves in when facing charges from the State. The last place a person wants to find themselves is in court arguing – it is not an advantageous position to be in: the stakes are high, the situation is adversarial, the flexibility of parties is limited to pursuing their constitutionally charged obligations, and the collateral effects on the accused are missed opportunities and expended resources in defense of their liberty and reputation. That said, it is helpful when even law enforcement is sympathetic and works on behalf of the client.

The end result was that we were able to get this case dismissed, and the much-relieved client was able to get back to a normal life.



It’s So Cold Criminals Are Turning Themselves In

Cold CriminalsAn escaped convict had nowhere to go when temperatures dropped into the low single digits in Kentucky on Monday night, so the criminal walked into the nearby Sunset Motel and Restaurant and asked an employee to call the police.

Without cash in his pocket or an accomplice with a spare bedroom, Robert Vick, 42, had few options as arctic temperatures settled in late Monday night. Vick decided his best option was to head back to the warm confines of his jail cell.

“This was definitely of his own volition,” said Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts. “It’s cold out there, too cold to run around. I can understand why the suspect would turn himself in.”

Police and paramedics arrived to the hotel a short while later. Vick was treated for hypothermia before being returned to Blackburn Correctional Complex.

Vick made his escape Sunday night, but he picked a poor time to make a run for it. Dressed in khakis, a shirt and jacket, Vick was no match for Monday’s wind chill, which dropped to -20 in Lexington.

Vick is currently serving a six-year sentence for burglary and a five-year sentence for criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Related source: Associated Press

Identity Theft Is America’s Fastest Growing Crime

Identity Theft TargetEarlier today Target confirmed that as many as 40 million individuals may have had their credit and debit card information stolen after a massive security breach was revealed.

Target’s security systems were breached from the day before Thanksgiving trough December 15. A person who used their card at the retail store or on may have provided thieves with their:

  • Name
  • Card number
  • Expiration date
  • 3- or 4-digit security code.

A spokesperson for the company said there was “no indication that PIN numbers were exposed,” but that still leaves thieves with enough information to make purchases on your behalf.

“If you shopped at Target between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, you should check your account for any suspicious or unusual activity,” the company said in a statement. “If you see something that appears fraudulent, REDcard holders should contact Target (866-852-8680), others should contact their banks.”

Should We Be Surprised?

Although to security breach has left many shoppers checking their bank statements, it shouldn’t come as a shock that more and more thieves are targeting consumers in the digital realm.

A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice found that losses as a result of identity theft topped $24 billion in 2012, and the average loss per incident was twice as much as property crimes like burglary or theft.

The problem with identity theft is that, unlike a robbery in your home, you probably won’t realize your information has been stolen until it is too late. In fact, according to the Bureau of Justice, the vast majority of identity theft crimes go unsolved because most people don’t report the incident to the police. The Bureau of Justice reported that only nine percent of identity theft victims contacted police in 2012. Most of the time, individuals seek to resolve the issue by contacting their bank or their credit card company, but that rarely results in the thief being brought to justice.

Protect Yourself

As we mentioned in a previous post, there are numerous ways to protect your sensitive information in cyberspace. To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, we recommend:

  • Regularly checking your bank statements for any fraudulent activity.
  • Shred personal information and dispose of the trash in a secure location.
  • Don’t store your password information on your laptop. If your MacBook gets stolen, so will your passwords.
  • Avoid opening or responding to emails from foreign or odd email addresses.
  • Use common sense when sites ask for your personal information. Only share your information with trusted or secure sites.

If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, or if you shopped at Target in the last three weeks, give your credit card statement a quick check and report any suspicious activity as soon as possible.

Related sources: Pioneer Press, The Atlantic Cities

Shoplifting Crimes Increase During The Holidays

ShopliftingShoplifting costs retailers over $13 billion dollars each year, and as more shoppers flock to the malls in the days leading up to Christmas, it’s no surprise that the holiday season is the busiest time of year for loss prevention teams across the nation.

According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, over 27 million people in the United States (1 in 11) have shoplifted in the past, and 10 million have done so within the last five years.

Retail theft is a crime we see far too often during the holiday season,” said Criminal Defense Attorney Avery Appelman. “People act without thinking, and all of a sudden they are facing hundred dollar fines for stealing a $5 item.”

Appelman added that many of the theft charges his firm handles are a result of an ill-conceived impulse.

“A lot of times people don’t go into the store with the intention of shoplifting,” said Appelman. “They simply see something they want and act rashly.”

What Are Thieves Taking?

According to a collection of data from 2011, shoplifters target high-priced foods, liquor and small electronics during their escapades. The top shoplifted items during the 2011 holiday season were.

1. Filet Mignon

2. Jameson Whiskey

3. Electric Tools

4. iPhones

5. Razor Blades


Appelman said the penalties a shoplifter would face vary depending on the value of the stolen goods. In most cases, the item is valued at less than $500. In these instances, a shoplifter could face up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. This is considered a misdemeanor offense.

The penalties get more severe as the value of the stolen goods increases. In Minnesota, if the item is valued between $500 and $1,000, the shoplifter could face up to one year in jail and fines of up to $3,000. This type of crime is considered a gross misdemeanor.

Lastly, if the item is between $1,000 and $5,000 a person can be hit with a five-year jail sentence and fines of up to $10,000. Any theft of an item over $5,000 is considered a felony and carries even harsher penalties.

Related sources: NASP, AdWeek

Top Three Santa Claus Arrest Videos

They say he knows if you’ve been naughty or nice, but it appears Santa may need to clean up his act if he wants to stay off the naughty list this year. Below, we share three videos of Kris Kringle in cuffs.

3. Santa Gets Handsy With Elf

Although this video doesn’t capture the act in question, a mall Santa in New Jersey was arrested for groping an 18-year-old elf late last month. According to the criminal complaint, Herbert Jones pinched the buttock of a female elf while they were working at the mall. He was charged with indecent assault and battery. Thankfully, no children were around at the time of the incident.

Ironically, Santa’s next court date is set for Christmas Eve.

2. Santa Demands Better Pay

Kris Kringle was arrested on Black Friday in California during a demonstration to demand higher wages. No, he wasn’t asking for more oats for Rudolph or a raise for his elves. Santa was part of a larger protest against Walmart, as supporters of the demonstration were asking Walmart to raise their minimum pay to $25,000 a year. Holding a sign that said “25K,” Santa was placed in handcuffs on charges of civil disobedience.

Santa allegedly attempted to spread some holiday cheer by offering a candy cane to a police officer before being taken into custody.

1. Santa Arrested For Spreading Peace. Literally.

This incident occurred last holiday season, but it showcases how idiotic some law enforcement officials can be. Santa Claus was arrested in Texas after writing the words, “Peace,” “Joy” and “Love” on the sidewalk outside the state’s capitol building. If Santa was using spray paint, the officers would have a clear case of vandalism, but Saint Nick was using washable sidewalk chalk. The cheerful message would have washed away the next time it rained.

Instead of using common sense, authorities deemed it necessary to arrest Santa and one of his “helpers” on charges of criminal mischief for defacing property. If using sidewalk chalk is wrong, we don’t want to be right.

Related sources: ABC News, The Examiner, CBS WBZ 4