Tag Archives: assault

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

How We Win Assault Cases

Assault casesBelow is a piece by Avery Appelman, founder of Appelman Law Firm. Each Friday, we will be posting a blog crafted by one of our attorneys so they can share their stories, tips, and insights into the legal world. Today, Avery talks about his methods for fighting an assault charge, citing two dismissals he recently obtained. For more information about Avery, check out his biography page or give him at call at (952) 224-2277.

I have represented people charged with various levels of assaults for my entire 20-year career. Assaults are a crime of violence, a personal crime. Assaults are enhanced based upon the nature of the injury inflicted on the victim. For instance, a broken bone is more serious than a bruise. I have had a recent run of successful assault cases that have ended with the state dismissing the charges against my clients. I want to discuss the approach to those cases.

The Cases in Question

The first case involved two young 20-somethings. My client was a student and a server at a local restaurant. The alleged victim was a new mother, who traveled to Minnesota from another state and showed up on my client’s doorstep at midnight one night. Unbeknownst to my client, the alleged victim brought her 12-day-old infant daughter with her. My client shared a boarding house with 5 or 6 other students; there was no extra room for a new mother, so the alleged victim and her newborn slept on the sofa in a common room for two nights. After her second night, my client told the alleged victim that she had to leave, because his roommates no longer wanted her and her infant to stay in the house. The alleged victim agreed to leave. My client left his home and did not return until late that night. In the meantime, the alleged victim appears at Hennepin County Medical Center with an injured infant and claims that my client assaulted her and the baby.

The police took the alleged victim at her word and immediately sought out and arrested my client for assault.

The second case involves an older distinguished business owner and the 20-something mother of his 2-year-old daughter. Needless to say, the dynamics are such that my client is a successful entrepreneur who runs a very brisk business. He and the alleged victim are not married. My client makes a variety of support payments to the alleged victim: he bought her a car, he pays for her rent, he gives her money for clothes, food, medical bills, cell phone, the list goes on and on.

On the Saturday morning that my client was scheduled to have his daughter, the transfer did not go as planned. The alleged victim was upset and demanded that my client leave without his daughter. She obstructed his path and refused to get out of his personal space. My client used force to push her out of his way as he moved down the apartment building hallway to exit the building. The alleged victim escalated her behavior, screaming and ranting at my client to “give me my daughter” while my client purposefully walked to his truck and secured his daughter into her car seat. My client reached the driver’s side door, got into the driver’s seat, and as he attempted to close the door, the alleged victim jammed her hand inside the truck, where it got caught as my client tried to close his door. The victim cried for help and one of the building managers, who witnessed the scene in the parking lot, called the police. The police ultimately arrested my client for assault.

There is a process to handling an assault case, and these cases illustrate how the process, when followed, leads to favorable outcomes, even when there is significant evidence of an assault.

The Next Step

In both cases I met with the clients, talked to them, and listened for every detail. I asked questions about their relationship and obtained a thorough background on when they met and how the relationship currently stands. In the first case, my client and the alleged victim had met seven months prior. The alleged victim moved to another state and the pair had only sporadically maintained contact. Then, almost out of the blue, she showed up in Minnesota and asked if she could stay at his place.

In the second case, my client met the alleged victim through his work and they began a romance that ultimately led to a daughter being born. They never married, and the relationship soured. The alleged victim is perpetually jealous of any woman my client might date. What’s more, I learned that the alleged victim routinely uses their daughter as a vehicle to try to control my client; denying him access to his daughter from time to time.

I like to speak with the alleged victims, so they know that my client takes this matter exceptionally serious. I place calls to the victim’s known phone numbers. If the alleged victim answers, I always identify my client and myself and I ask if they will speak with me about the case. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. The mere fact that the call has been made applies subtle pressure on the alleged victims. They become aware that a professional is assisting their significant other while they are left adrift, isolated, and alone. They may call the prosecutor, who is notorious for not returning calls, and if they do, he or she tells them they are not their attorney. Added pressure leads to a willingness to resolve cases.

Developing a Plan

I take the information I learn in the initial meeting and I sit down with our in-house investigator to outline a strategy, which includes drafting a list of witnesses that we need to contact. In the first case, the victim had made a claim as to date and time the assault occurred. My client told me he was not there at the date and time of the alleged assault, and we sought to prove that by talking with witnesses who would testify to that. What’s more, we arranged for the witnesses to sign statements attesting to our client’s whereabouts at the time the alleged victim claimed the assault occurred.

In the second case, we were fortunate to have two independent witnesses who observed the escalating scene in the parking lot. Needless to say, we never rely on the police reports for detailed information; it takes a thorough investigation to obtain the details that will help. We spoke with these witnesses, and while their factual rendition of events did not alter, their perception of the alleged victim’s behavior was described as “out of control” “crazy” and “insane.”

I review the statements we obtain with my investigator, and have him follow up with the witnesses if I need additional details. Armed with signed statements, I make contact with the prosecutors at the pre-trial conferences. These hearings are designed to provide back and forth communication in hopes of resolving cases prior to trial.

In each case, I showed the prosecutors some but not all of the statements. I carefully selected the statements I wanted to use. First, it demonstrates to the prosecution that we take these matters seriously, and it shows we know more about this case then they do. In Minnesota, we have victim’s rights laws associated with assault cases that require victim input prior to resolving cases. At the pre-trial conferences, both prosecutors said they would review the provided information with the victim.

After The Pre-Trial Conference

In case one, I began to email the prosecutor with my theory of the case, that the alleged victim had lied, that she has no credibility, and that she fabricated the assault claim to conceal her involvement in the injury of her infant child (recall she appeared at HCMC with an injured infant, knowing that serious questions will be asked of her). I applied pressure as to why, when confronted with a reasonable alibi, the prosecutor refused to look at this case objectively. Ultimately after three emails, the prosecutor dismissed the case.

In case two, after the pre-trial conference I spoke with the prosecutor and we agreed to a resolution that is called a “continuance for dismissal.” This is an agreement with the prosecution wherein if my client satisfies certain conditions – in this case, pay a few hundred dollars in prosecution costs – the case would be dismissed.

The most important step in any case is listening to your clients. When I hear their side of the story, I can begin to formulate ideas on what evidence exists that will help prove their innocence. These are just a few of the successful cases. All of our clients receive the same compassionate and professional care. We have helped thousands of clients; allow our experience to help you through your case.

Rutgers University Fires Abusive Basketball Coach

Men’s basketball coach Mike Rice has been fired by Rutgers University less than 24 hours after Outside the Lines aired an investigative report that showed Rice verbally and physically abusing players.

“Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice,” the university said in a statement on Wednesday.

Although the video below begins with Rice yelling at officials and players during games, it soon reveals his abusive nature during team practices.

As you can see in the video, Rice repeatedly grabs, shoves, kicks, and even throws basketballs at his players.  Adding to the outrage, the university first learned about the abuse in December of 2012, but they did little to curb Rice’s actions.  The school suspended Rice for three games and fined him $50,000 after they initially saw the video detailing the abuse.

Athletic Director Tim Pernetti took some responsibility for Rice’s actions, saying he hoped the punishment along with further corrective actions would have changed Rice’s behavior.

“I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,” Pernetti said in a statement. “Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community.”

The videos were first brought to the school’s attention by Eric Murdock, who formerly worked as a director of player development at the university.

The immediate backlash over the incident was widespread, especially in the world of social media.  Many athletes voiced their opinions on Rice’s coaching techniques, including LeBron James, who hinted that Rice is going to have trouble finding forgiveness among players and fans.

Rice spoke to ESPN about the incident, and he expressed regret for the way he treated his players.

“I can’t say anything right now except I’m sorry,” Rice told ESPN. “There is never going to be a time when I use any of that as an excuse. …I’ve let so many people down — my players, administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family sitting huddled around just because their father was an embarrassment to them. It’s troubling. At some time maybe I’ll try to explain it. But right now … there is no excuse for it. I was wrong. I’m going to tell everybody who believed in me that I’m deeply sorry for the pain and sorrow that I’ve caused.”

Related source:  ESPN, USA Today

New Minnesota Bill Seeks to Aid Sexually Exploited Youth

Although April is coined as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, many Minnesotans are voicing their opinion about the sex trafficking industry as a new bill aimed at providing care for sexually abused children makes its way in front of state legislators this week.

The bill is called the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth bill, and it asks for nearly $14 million to provide shelters, services and treatment for children who have been the victim of sexual exploitation.

Minnesota law enforcement has seen a rise in the number of girls being sold for sex, and proponents of the bill said it is because the girls lack a safe place to turn to.

“They try to reach these girls only to have them disappear because there is no place they can bring them that’s safe right now,” said Lee Roper-Baker, CEO of The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

Roper-Baker said there are currently only four shelter beds across the state that provides services for victims of child sex trafficking, and the funding would help establish more clinics that could reach a greater amount victims.

“We are poised to become the first state in the nation to set up systemic shelter and treatment for girls who’ve been sex trafficked,” said Roper-Baker.

In addition to asking the public to contact their state legislatures to voice their opinion on the bill, there is also a radio campaign called “MN Girls Are Not For Sale”.  The commercials air on select radio stations through April 1, and they detail the struggles these children face on a daily basis.

Jeff Bauer of The Family Partnership said the radio commercials are having the intended effects.

“The commercials are hard hitting,” Bauer said. “They’re pretty direct.”

Bauer also said the bill would help by putting the perpetrators behind bars.

“It’s $13.5 million for a safe shelter and housing, for comprehensive services and treatment and for training for law enforcement to better identify victims and investigate cases,” he said. “We need people in every community across the state to stand up right now to end this thing.”

Roper-Baker echoed that sentiment, saying now is the time for Minnesotans to stand up for sexually exploited children.

“This is an unimaginable crime of violence against our children and we have a chance now to be part of this solution to end it,” she said.

For more information about the program, you can visit the MN Girls Are Not For Sale website, or you can click here to learn how you can get in touch with your local senator to voice your opinion.

Related source:  CBS Minnesota

Man Charged and Fired After Slapping Toddler

cryingLast week, Joe Rickey Hundley was charged with simple assault in Atlanta federal court for slapping a toddler while on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta.

According to reports, Hundley appeared intoxicated on the flight and grew increasingly aggravated by a crying baby. According to the mother of the toddler, Jessica Bennett, her son began to cry because of the altitude change.  Bennett told news reporters that Hundley “reeked of alcohol… He was belligerent, and I was uncomfortable.”

Then, according to FBI statements,  Hundley used a racial slur and  “told her to shut that N***** baby up.” He then reached across and slapped the young child in the face, scratching his eye.  The family was disturbed and shocked at the actions of Hundley toward their adoptive son Jonah.

Now, Hundley’s employer AGC Aerospace and Defense Composites Group has announced that Hundley has been terminated as a result of his actions on the flight. He is also facing criminal charges: one count of simple assault. In Georgia, Hundley’s charges carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

In Minnesota, such an offense could qualify as third degree assault and battery:

Third degree assault is also a felony and brings penalties of up to five years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines. One is guilty of third degree assault if they:

  1. Assault another and inflict substantial bodily harm
  2. Assault a child and have a pattern of assaultive behavior upon a child
  3. Assault a child under the age of four, and cause bodily harm to the child’s head, eyes, or neck, or otherwise cause multiple bruises to the body

If you are under arrest or under investigation for any form of assault, contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.

Sports Results Impact Domestic Violence Rates

While many people may have thrown a pillow across the room after Joe Webb continued to fire passes into the dirt during the playoff loss to the Packers, a new study shows that some people may be more likely to take their rage out on their partner after a disappointing loss.

A report in the Quarterly Journal of Economics found that NFL losses can result in a 10% increase in domestic violence reports within an hour of the final whistle.  Economists David Card and Gordon Dahl analyzed nearly 800 calls from over a half a dozen states during their research.  Their goal was to understand the factors that lead to domestic violence, which is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States.

Dahl said that domestic violence usually occurs out of a short fit of rage, as opposed to a long-term desire to abuse another person.

“A lot of domestic violence doesn’t happen because people like to hit or control people,” says Dahl. “It seems like there is a role for some people basically losing their temper, and hitting an emotional cue that allows them to do something in the heat of the moment that they later regret. That’s where our paper comes in. It doesn’t excuse domestic violence or say that domestic violence is a good thing, but it does help us understand what we can do to help stop it.”

Findings from the report are fascinating for sports fans and non-sports fans alike.  Below are some of the findings.

  • Call volumes double if the team loses to a traditional rival or during a playoff loss.
  • There was a spike in domestic violence calls when a team was expected to win and lost, while there was no increase when a team was expected to lose and lost.
  • There was no beneficial effect of lower domestic violence when a team was expected to lose and won.
  • The spike in domestic violence was common across racial and economic lines.

In concluding their research, Card and Dahl found that managing your expectations can go a long way in curbing domestic violence.  Dahl added that the key wasn’t whether the team won or lost the game, but whether they won or lost unexpectedly.

“It doesn’t matter whether you lose the game, but it does matter in your emotional reaction when you lose the game when you thought your team was going to win,” he said.  “Upsetting bad news is really bad, and upsetting or unexpected good news is okay, but doesn’t have the same positive effect as unexpected bad news has on emotions.”

Both researchers believe the study was a step in the right direction, but they want to dig deeper to determine if other factors such as marriage length or job stress added to the likelihood of a domestic violence incident.

“All of these would be extremely interesting in learning more about who might be most vulnerable to this type of influence,” Card said.

Related source:  TIME

How to Job Hunt with a Criminal Record

In 2010, 73 percent of human resources professionals said their company conducted a criminal background check during the hiring process, and that number has likely increased over the past few years as more information is becoming digitized.  Most people don’t have anything interesting on their record, but job seekers who have a criminal record may feel that past convictions will start them off on the wrong foot.  Because background checks are becoming more common, we’ll explore some ways to best present yourself to an employer if you have a criminal record.

  • Consider getting your criminal record sealed – Depending on what crime you committed, you may be able to get your record sealed.  Sealing or expunging your record doesn’t erase any information, but it does limit who can access it.  You can talk with an attorney or legal professional to determine if sealing your record is an option, or you can visit your state government’s website.
  • Volunteer opportunities can speak volumes – Exploring volunteering options can provide many benefits for job seekers.  First, it can show a company that you are focusing on the future, not dwelling in the past. Also, volunteer opportunities give you a chance to develop solid references that can put in a good word if your prospective employer calls for a reference.
  • Be knowledgeable about your conviction – It’s important to know exactly what you’ve been convicted of, as inaccurate information can be harmful in the interview process.  If you show an interviewer that you understand the charges and accepted the penalties, it can put you in a better light than those who don’t acknowledge or show remorse for their crimes.
  • Participate in re-entry programs – There are plenty of programs that help job seekers with a criminal record re-enter the professional world.  In Minnesota, there are certain groups like the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition and 180 Degrees who work to get people with a criminal record a job by focusing on education, training and support.  These programs can be listed on a resume and discussed in an interview to show that you are committed to developing professional skills and have a desire to learn.
  • Consider where you apply – During the application process, you’ll likely be asked if you have been convicted of a crime.  Read the section carefully, as some employers only ask for a certain time period (i.e. last five years) or for certain levels of crime (only list felonies).  If you’re applying at a larger company, you might have a tough time explaining your past convictions to a hiring manager.  Oftentimes at larger companies, human resources professionals without “hiring power” conduct an initial interview.  Second and third interviews with hiring and on-site managers are then conducted, and it can be difficult to explain your conviction to a person in charge if you have to go through multiple interviews.  By applying at a smaller company, you increase the likelihood that your initial interview will be with someone with greater hiring power and will give you a first-hand chance to explain any convictions.

 

  • Honesty is the best policy – It’s always best to disclose any past criminal convictions, as neglecting to do so can be cause for termination, even months after you get the job.  With that said, don’t start the interview by jumping into your past legal troubles.  Prepare what you plan to say before your interview in case it comes up.  Also, consider discussing the prior conviction after the company had expressed interest in you.  When discussing your conviction, it’s important to walk the line between accepting responsibility for your actions and explaining yourself.  For example, I knew a colleague back in college whose house got busted for having a party.  He took the fall for his roommate who purchased the keg because the roommate was a criminal justice major, and a ticket for “supplying to minors” would result in his expulsion from the program.  The roommate paid my colleague for the ticket, but now he has to explain the supplying to minors ticket during interviews.  He said he often has to tiptoe the line between explaining his side of the story and accepting the consequences for making a rash decision to support a friend.  He is prepared for the question, and tries to turn his answer into a positive outlook on his character.  He admits that it doesn’t always work, but being prepared and answering honestly help explain a conviction that looks bad on paper.

 

Settlement Reached in Police Brutality Lawsuit

stpA St. Paul man is set to receive a $30,000 settlement from the city after being beaten by an off-duty cop in 2010 while in jail.

In 2008, Luke Prescott was a passenger in a car stopped by two St. Paul Police Officers for “suspicious activity”. The two officers discovered that the 17 year-old girl in the car was the stepdaughter of another officer–Scott Wendell.

Prescott was jailed and while in his cell, Wendell paid him a visit while off-duty while officer Matthew Onnen watched and did not intervene.  Officer Prescott then grabbed his neck and slammed his head against the wall of the cell while he was handcuffed, knocking him unconscious. Another officer involved in the arrest, Kimberly Kunnen, also saw Wendell enter looking for Prescott and later heard Prescott’s screams. According to the complaint,  Prescott has since received treated for permanent brain injury, short-term memory loss, severe concussion, migraines and PTSD.

Wendell was acquitted of assault in 2010. However, the federal suit names officers Kunde and Onnen.

The City of St. Paul agreed to the settlement so as to “minimize the city’s risk” due to the seriousness of Prescott’s injuries.

Holidays and Crime

The holiday months may be the time for love and families, but there are certain crimes that also seem to prosper during the season of giving. Last year, Nazir Azfal, a prosecutor in the UK compiled a list of crimes which spike measurably in December around the holidays.

Harassment and Stalking: According to Azfal, he sees many harassment and stalking cases in which someone is attempting to reconnect with old relationships. In Minnesota law, the term stalking is used to describe a type of harassing behavior. The criteria is as follows:

  • The actor knows or has reason to know would cause the victim to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated
  • Causes this reaction on the part of the victim

However, Minnesota law does not require any proof of intent when prosecuting harassment and stalking crimes. That is, the state need not provide any proof that the defendant has willfully attempted to frighten, threaten, persecute, intimidate, or oppress the plaintiff.

Harassment is a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota, punishable by 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.  There are several factors, however, which can heighten a harassment offense to a felony charge. If the harassment was motivated by race, if the defendant impersonated another person, or if the defendant carried a weapon, this would be punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

DWI/DUI

The holiday festivities and celebrations are often accompanied by adult beverages consumed in excess. As we have already reported, MN law enforcement agencies have increased their DWI patrols through the holiday season to crack down on intoxicated drivers. The penalties for DWI vary greatly depending on the situation and the offender’s criminal record.

Assault

Driving isn’t the only crime that intoxicated holiday party-goers partake in during the merriment. Azfal reported that his office sees an influx of alcohol-fueled assaults during December.  Assault penalties in Minnesota vary depending on the details of the offense.

Shoplifting

Many holiday gifters see the season of giving as a time to become Robin Hood. In Minnesota, shoplifting (theft) is a misdemeanor if the value of the stolen goods is less than $500, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.  As the value of the stolen goods increases, and certain other conditions are introduced to the offense, the severity of the charge and the ensuing punishment also increases.

 

The holiday season may be a time of good cheer, but police and the criminal justice system won’t give you a break in the spirit of Saint Nick. If you are arrested or charged with a crime in Minnesota, even a misdemeanor, contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.

 

Woman Threatens Husband with a Knife to Perform Oral Sex

The West Virginia woman who threatened two men with a knife in October pled guilty today to assault and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. 

Melissa Williams was arrested in October after she showed up at her estranged husband’s door with a knife, demanding of him and another man to “Eat my pussy.” According to the police report, her husband Danny Williams declined her request, but the other man, Adam Watson, agreed.  However, as Watson approached Williams, “he became overwhelmed by horrible vaginal odor coming from Williams.”  Watson then, “declined to proceed any further.” This is when Williams allegedly “produced a lock-back folding knife,” and pointed it at her estranged husband and threatened this: “Somebody is going to eat my pussy or I’m going to cut your fucking throat.” When police arrived all three people appeared intoxicated and Williams was naked from the waist down.

Criminal defense attorney Geoffrey Saltzstein says, “What I find awfully curious, is that this woman only received 90 days in jail for an attempted 1st degree criminal sexual conduct.  In the State of Minnesota, that offense – §609.342, subd 1(d); combined with the enhancement under §609.3455 subd 1() – whereby the offender knowingly causes or permits the complainant to be placed in a situation likely to cause severe ongoing mental, emotional, or psychological harm – would mandate a life sentence for the “malodorous suspect.  Something is amiss.”

If you or someone you know is facing assault charges, contact the experienced trial lawyers at the Appelman Law Firm.