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Criminal Culpability in Minnesota

As we’ve documented before, there is a strong correlation between adolescent brain development and the urge to commit risky behaviors. Kids at a younger age aren’t as able to understand the full nature and consequences of their actions.

Minnesota law takes this notion into account when looking at criminal culpability. According to Minnesota Statute 609.055, as a general rule, children under the age of 14 are incapable of committing a crime.

Teen Laws

That said, as soon as a person hits their 14th birthday in Minnesota, they can face criminal charges under certain circumstances. According to the criminal statute:

“Children of the age of 14 years or over but under 18 years may be prosecuted for a felony offense if the alleged violation is duly certified for prosecution under the laws and court procedures controlling adult criminal violations or may be designated an extended jurisdiction juvenile in accordance with the provisions of chapter 260B.”

But there’s more. Once you hit the age of 16, you’re also ruled criminally culpable for a slew of additional crimes. In Minnesota, anybody between the ages of 16 and 18 years old may be prosecuted with a felony if:

  • The child has been previously certified on a felony charge pursuant to a hearing under section 260B.125, subdivision 2, or pursuant to the waiver of the right to such a hearing, or prosecuted pursuant to this subdivision; and
  • The child was convicted of the felony offense or offenses for which the child was prosecuted or of a lesser included felony offense.
  • A child who is alleged to have committed murder in the first degree after becoming 16 years of age is capable of committing a crime and may be prosecuted for the felony. This paragraph does not apply to a child alleged to have committed attempted murder in the first degree after becoming 16 years of age.

Murder aside, there are numerous crimes that are typically committed by young adults. Disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana or alcohol and reckless driving are all typical juvenile crimes that our firm handles. Depending on the circumstances, your child’s charge could be upgraded to a felony if someone is injured during the act, so you’ll want to speak to a juvenile attorney right away. If you have any questions about Minnesota’s culpability law or how to handle juvenile charges, contact us today.

Minnesota Driver and Passenger Both Earn DUIs

A driver and a passenger in Lino Lakes both earned DUIs last month after trying to pull the old driver switcheroo.

According to the police report, a gas station employee phoned authorities after witnessing a vehicle sideswipe a poll and hit a gas pump. The suspects eventually drove off on I-35 and were stopped by an officer a short while later.

As the officer approached the vehicle, he witnessed an odd sight. The driver and the passenger were attempting to switch seats inside the vehicle. He asked the person in the driver’s seat, “You guys are changing seats?” One of the women replied, “Yes.”

The Conversation Continues

Per the police report, the conversation continued between the police officer and the suspects:

PO: “Where you guys coming from today?”

S: “The gas station just down the road.”

PO: “Did anything happen at the gas station?”

S: “No, not that I’m aware of.”

20-year-old Marley Mckay admitted to the officer that she was driving at the gas station, and that she knew she hit something, but she decided to leave. Mckay then told the officer she pulled over on I-35 because she suspected she was too drunk to drive, and wanted to switch drivers with the person in the passenger’s seat.

“They indicated they were switching spots, and the one individual stated they were too intoxicated to drive the vehicle,” Lino Lakes Police Capt. Wayne Wegener said.

Megan Demalo, who had just turned 21, took over behind the wheel for her friend before police caught up to the vehicle. Because both women admitted or were caught behind the wheel, both ended up under arrest for driving under the influence.

“Extremely odd for a Saturday morning and very unusual for most any day,” Wegener said.

In addition to charges of driving under the influence, hit-and-run and fleeing the scene of an accident, one of the backseat passengers was cited for shoplifting three boxes of donuts from the Corner Express in Lino Lakes.

Related source: CBS Minnesota

Man Fools Cops By Hiding Pot in Box Labeled “Not Weed”

A Nebraska man suspected of driving under the influence pulled off an elaborate scheme over the weekend to fool cops into thinking he didn’t have drugs in the car. Instead of storing his marijuana in a container labeled “Weed,” Jordan Meier cleverly stashed his marijuana in a sour cream tub labeled “Not Weed.”

Ok, maybe that’s not exactly how it went down.

Lancaster County deputies stopped Meier around 9 p.m. on Saturday after noticing that he was driving erratically. Although it doesn’t detail if Meier submitted to a field sobriety or breath test, authorities had enough evidence to place Meier under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence.

Authorities decided to search Meier’s vehicle after he was arrested. While they were searching the 21-year-old’s car, authorities stumbled upon a 16-ounce sour cream tub under the driver’s seat. Written on the container were the words, “Not Weed.”

“We call that a clue,” said Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner.

Shockingly, the container labeled “Not Weed” was packed with about 11 ounces of marijuana. Meier was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and he received a $100 citation for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

Meier had three passengers in the car at the time of the stop. Authorities say they were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Not The Brightest Bulbs

This isn’t the first time a suspect thought they could pull a fast one on the police. Here’s a list of some of our favorite criminals that we’ve featured on the blog.

1. Man Claims He’s Not Drunk, He’s Just Tired From X-Mas Shopping.

2. Oregon Couple Tries To Tip Waitress With Crystal Meth.

3. Man Blames DUI On Attempting To Avoid Elephant In The Road.

Related source: Lincoln Journal-Star

Minnesota Lawmakers Eye License Plate Data Change

License plate reading (LPR) technology is a relatively new tool for police to use in their fight against crime. Much like the the electronic system Batman uses in The Dark Knight to find The Joker, in the right hands, the technology can do a lot of good. It can quickly scan the license plate and tell the officer if the driver has a suspended license or an outstanding warrant. But, used poorly, the data the devices collect can compromise the privacy of innocent citizens.

For that reason, Minnesota lawmakers are once again attempting to regulate just how long police can hold onto data collected from these high-tech devices. This will mark the third time since their statewide inception in 2012 that lawmakers try to determine how long data on innocent drivers should be held.

Lawmakers seem to hold one of two views when it comes to storing license plate data collected from drivers who have no reason to be suspected of any wrongdoing. One group of lawmakers believes the data should be deleted immediately, while the other group thinks the data should be stored for 90 days prior to deletion. Neither side could reach a compromise in 2013 or 2014, and no bill was able to reach a final vote before the legislative session closed. Under the current system, law enforcement is holding the data indefinitely until the Legislature comes to a decision, although the data is not classified as public.

Safety Vs. Privacy

Both groups are championing a different cause in hopes that their bill will win favor. For Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, he believes 90-day data collection can provide authorities with more information to track down criminals. Citing the case of Brian Fitch Sr., the man accused of killing Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick, Latz noted that cops were able to close in on Fitch by looking at LPR data to determine where Fitch had been in the past months in order to reason where he might be in the aftermath of the shooting. Police officers at Fitch’s trial said the LPR data is a vital tool that can’t be used to its fullest extent if the data is deleted immediately.

On the other side of the ball, Sen. Branden Peterson, R-Andover, believes his zero-retention bill is best for protecting the privacy of average citizens. He says police already have so much information on innocent civilians that there’s no room for compromise when it comes to LPR data.

“What we know about law enforcement is that they will operate to the fullest extent possible inside of the law, and the more data that they have at their disposal, they’ll use,” Petersen said. “If you couple LPR data with other mechanisms that are used to collect data en masse, you can, without ever establishing probable cause … paint vivid pictures of people’s everyday lives.”

So do you think? Should the data be stored for 90 days, deleted immediately, or is there a better solution out there?

Related source: GovTech


What is Transdermal Alcohol Monitoring?

If you’re convicted of a crime, you’re likely to face a range of punishments, be it jail time, a fine, probation or any other option the court deems fit. If you’re convicted of a crime involving drugs or alcohol, the judge will likely impose restrictions on future substance use. You may be forbidden from consuming alcohol for a set period of time, but how can the court ensure you’re sticking to your probation guidelines? After all, your probation officer isn’t going to follow you 24/7. One such way the courts keep tabs on people is through a device called a Transdermal Alcohol Monitoring Device.

The device has many names, but it’s usually called the TAD or CAD, short for Transdermal/Continuous Alcohol Device. Transdermal, which is a fancy way of saying “through the skin,” suggests that the device measures skin emissions to determine what substances are in a person’s body. Although the device can’t detect what you had for lunch that day, it does test for the presence of alcohol, marijuana or other illegal substances.

Transdermal technology has been around for a long time, as the science behind alcohol emissions through the skin have been studied since the 1920s. The science was thoroughly tested, and in 1985 researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine published dual studies that analyzed how volatile substances moved through the skin and how they were emitted through perspiration.

How it Works

One of the more popular TAD devices, known as the SCRAM bracelet (short for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), takes a skin emission sample every 30 minutes throughout the day. Typically the devices are attached to a person’s ankle, and every half hour a tiny air pump collects an emission sample and tests its contents.

Unlike a home monitoring device, the SCRAM bracelet does not monitor your exact location, and cops aren’t going to descend on your house the minute alcohol touches your lips. Instead the device has to be synced up with a special wireless router that relays the recordings to the proper authorities. Typically these devices send their data in the early hours of the morning, between 3 am and 5 am, because the user is likely sleeping in his or her home where the router is located.

Some users note that the device can be tricked by placing a piece of paper or plastic over your skin. That method isn’t recommended though. While your alcohol content will read zero, the device will be able to tell that it did not get a true sample, which means you’ll likely be in violation of your parole for attempting to tamper with the device.

Related source: Scram Systems

The Top States For Black Homicide Victims

Protests and demonstrations calling for an end to police brutality and racial discrepancies have made headlines over the past week, and for good reason. Murders and homicides shake small communities to the core, but oftentimes it’s black communities that are most affected.

According to FBI, in 2012 the national homicide rate was 4.5 homicides per 100,000 people. For whites, that rate fell to 2.65 per 100,000. For African Americans, that rate skyrocketed to 18.03 per 100,000.

Digging further into the statistics, we can see which states have the most black homicide victims per 100,000 people.

The Top 10

The top ten states for black homicide victims are:

1. Missouri – 34.98 per 100,000
2 Nebraska – 34.93
3 Michigan – 34.77
4 Pennsylvania – 31.02
5 Louisiana – 25.75
6 Indiana – 25.48
7 Oklahoma – 25.04
8 Wisconsin – 24.38
9 California – 23.25
10 Tennessee – 22.40

Surprisingly, a slew of Midwestern states fall on that list. Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin all rank in the top 8. As for Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes lands right in the middle of the list at 24, with 15.44 deaths per 100,00 people.

Additionally, six states reported zero black homicide victims in 2012. Those states are Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire and Wyoming.

More Data

Some related data from the findings include:

  • Of the 6,565 black homicide victims, 5,708 (87 percent) were male, and 856 (13 percent) were female.
  • The homicide rate for black male victims was 32.78 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall rate for male homicide victims was 7.27
    per 100,000. For white male homicide victims it was 3.86 per 100,000.
  • The homicide rate for female black victims was 4.51 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall rate for female homicide victims was 1.80 per 100,000. For white female homicide victims it was 1.45 per 100,000.
  • 17 states had a black homicide victimization rate higher than the national per capita rate of 18.03 per

Related source: Violence Policy Center

35 Charged in #BlackLivesMatter Protest at Mall of America

A total of 35 people have been charged in connection with their participation in the Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America on December 20, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

10 organizers face a range of charges, while 25 others face charges stemming from their arrests on the day of the protest, Bloomington Police Chief Rick Hart said in a release. Some of the charges filed include:

  • Unlawful assembly
  • Public nuisance
  • Trespassing

“To ensure the safety and experience of its guests, Mall of America has had a long-standing policy in place that does not allow protests or demonstrations on their site. This policy has been consistently enforced. The Black Lives Matter group was informed that it did not have permission to gather and demonstrate in Mall of America. An alternative location was provided, and rally organizers declined to re-locate the demonstration.”

The demonstration, spurred by the high profile deaths of citizens Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police, sought to decry and bring attention to the problem of police brutality. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people took part in the demonstration, despite warnings from police. After the event, authorities announced they were conducting an investigation into who helped organize the demonstration.  Details of the event were primarily shared on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Over 80 stores had to be shut down for two hours out of concerns for public safety. Bloomington officials said lost revenue on one of the busiest days of the year, as well as the extra cost of providing an increased officer presence at the mall led to the decision to pursue charges.

Organizers of the event said they were “saddened” by the city’s decision to use public resources to put an end to the protest.

Related source: Pioneer Press

New Minnesota Laws Coming January 1

Although there aren’t as many new criminal laws going into effect this year as there were last January, there are still a handful of new laws that you’ll have to follow come January 1, 2015. Today, we explain the new laws.

1.  Criminal Reform

This new law will reform Minnesota’s current expungement laws in hopes of helping people with a past criminal conviction find housing or employment.

Under the old law, judges were able to expunge court records, but not records collected by state agencies, meaning some expunged transgressions still appeared on certain background and housing checks. The new law provides more protections for people with an expunged record so long as they meet the following conditions:

  • The individual has successfully completed the terms of a diversion program or stay of adjudication and has not been charged with a new crime for at least one year since completion.
  • The individual was convicted of or received a stayed sentence for a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor and has not been convicted of a new crime for at least two years since discharge.
  • The individual was convicted of or received a stayed sentence for a gross misdemeanor and has not been convicted of a new crime for at least four years since discharge .
  • The individual was convicted of or received a stayed sentence for one of more than 50 listed felony violations and has not been convicted of a new crime for at least five years since discharge.
  • The individual must show convincing evidence that their record is holding them back, that they’ve shown evidence of progress in their life and that the expungement would outweigh the burden on public safety.

2. Lifeguard Law

Not all public beaches are required to provide lifeguards during swimming hours, but a new change is in the works for those that do. Under the new law known as “Tony’s Law,” public beaches who provide lifeguards must ensure their lifeguards are certified through the American Red Cross and they must be trained in CPR for adults and children.

3. Teen Driving

Teen drivers will need to spend more time behind the wheel before they can take their road test beginning January 1. The new law requires that teens have at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training prior to their road test. The old law only required 30 hours of practice prior to their driver’s test. Additionally, 15 of the 50 hours must come at night, up from 10 hours under the old law.

But there’s another wrinkle. If the parent or guardian takes a 90-minute class aimed at making the parent a better driving teacher, the number of required behind-the-wheel hours drops to 40 hours.

4. New Boat Law

Although the Aquatic Invasive Species Training Law was passed in 2011, it’s finally going into effect on January 1.

The law requires anyone who transports a boat or water-related equipment with a trailer to pass a test to get a decal that must be displayed on their trailers. The decal must be posted by July 1, 2015. Boat owners can access the 10-question test online, and officials say it should take about 20 minutes to complete. If a person is found to be operating their boat after July 1 without the decal, they will not be allowed to operate their boat until they pass the test.

As of now, there is no set penalty for a continued violation of this law.

Related source: MPR News

Drunk Driving Arrests Down in Minnesota

Fewer Minnesotans are getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, according to a report from the Minnesota State Patrol.

The decline in DUI arrests has been rather stark as there have been 21 percent fewer arrests in 2014 than there was at this time last year. Police credit the drop in DUI arrests to more social awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving as well as the announcement of extra DUI patrols throughout the year. Police believe fewer people are taking the risk to drive drunk because they know more cops are out looking for offenders.

Despite the drop in arrests, DUI arrests are still happening far too often in Minnesota. 25,719 people were arrested for drunk driving in Minnesota in 2013, and we’re still expected to top 20,000 arrests by the end of the year. Police say this time of year is especially dangerous on the roads, as the holidays provide people with more opportunities to drive drunk.

Law enforcement said they arrested 578 individuals for driving drunk over the last two weekends. Similar numbers are expected through the end of the year as the State Patrol plan to continue adding extra DUI patrols as part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

An App For That

App developers are also helping cut down on drinking and driving. A law enforcement agency in Maryland created the END DUI app, which allows a user to enter their height, weight, number of drinks and the time it took to consumer those drinks in order to estimate their blood-alcohol content.

The app is loaded with other features, including two mini games that test the user’s reaction time and cognitive ability. It also use GPS and Bluetooth technology to provide local phone numbers to cabs and other transportation options.

The app is available in the App Store and is free of charge.

Related source: Bring Me The News, WCCO

Man Charged With DUI Attempts To Eat Breath Test Results

A Connecticut man faces a slew of charges after driving drunk and attempting to eat his DUI test results.

40-year-old Kenneth Desormes was stopped by New York police this weekend after they caught him speeding on Interstate 95. After speaking with Desormes during the traffic stop, troopers determined he was under the influence of alcohol. He was placed under arrest and brought back to the station.

That’s where the case took a turn for the weird. Law enforcement officials gave Desormes a Breathalyzer test which revealed the man had a blood alcohol content of 0.13 percent, more than 1.5 times the legal limit. Officers say when they attempted to print off his Breathalyzer results, Desormes lunged for the paper and attempted to dispose of the evidence by eating it. Despite his best efforts, officers were able to salvage the test results.

Desormes’ actions at the police station earned him a few additional charges. When it was all said and done he faced charges of:

  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Obstructing governmental administration
  • Criminal tempering.

Desormes is expected to appear in court later this month.

Related source: Fox New York