Tag Archives: mn criminal defense lawyer

Apple Valley Man Arrested for DWI on a Zamboni

zamboni dwiAn Apple Valley man was arrested for DWI on Monday after he was caught drunkenly driving a Zamboni at a Pee Wee hockey game.

The 34-year-old Zamboni driver is a part-time employee of the city of Apple Valley. Parents in attendance first noticed something was amiss when the driver started making stripes in the ice and banging the Zamboni into the rink walls. This prompted one of the Pee Wee coaches to call the police, who then arrested the man for DWI.

The man has two prior DWI convictions, in 1999 and 2002.

Minnesota law states that a person can be charged with a DWI if they are driving a motor vehicle in the state while intoxicated. According to MN statute 169.03A Subd. 15, a motor vehicle is any “vehicle that is self-propelled.” A Zamboni falls under this description. Although the man has not yet been formally charged with a DWI, he likely will be. The question is: what degree of DWI will he be charge with?

This largely depends on the man’s BAC at the time of driving. If his BAC level was relatively low (0.08 or under) he will likely receive a 4th or 3rd degree DUI. However, if his BAC level is 0.20 or higher, he could be charged with a 2nd degree.

“If his BAC is 0.20 or above there is also the question of vehicle forfeiture,” says Avery Appelman. “In cases involving high BAC levels, police routinely seize and forfeit the vehicle involved in the offense. Will police seize the Zamboni in this case? It could likely pay for a few new squad cars.”


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NY Gangs’ Social Media Activity Leads To 43 Arrests

 It seems the street gangs have taken to cyberspace, much to the delight of law enforcement. 43 members of rival NY gangs were arrested this week after boasting about their criminal activity via Twitter. The men, ages 15-21, were arrested on various charges including murder, assault, robbery, and conspiracy.

According to Brooklyn Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, “Gang members made the mistake of boasting on Twitter which NYPD officers used to help establish their complicity in murder and other crimes.” The bust was the result of a year-long investigation of crimes dating back to 2010.

Those arrested were members of the feuding gangs Wave and Hood Starz, each with their own distinct lingo which the police deciphered as part of Operation Tidal Wave. Officers tracked monitored the communications through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. However, the men aren’t exactly shining examples of discretion.  A quick search on any of the three social media sites yields multiple users who make no secret of their gang affiliation. However,  it appears that since the police crackdown, most of the profiles and activity has been made private.

This wasn’t the first time these gangs saw headlines. In the fall of 2010, a bloody turf war broke out between the Hood Starz and the Brownsville Fly Guys for control of the Marcus Garvey Village housing project.  Two teens were killed and many others wounded in what seems to be an issue of kids losing their youth to the streets. This is very much still the case today; the average age of those arrested in this week’s bust was 17.

According to MN criminal defense lawyer Avery Appelman, this is a fantastic example of law enforcement employing social media to cultivate evidence against targets of investigations. However, these types of investigations do have their issues. “A problem with this form of evidence is authentication. How would the state seek to admit the evidence of someone’s “tweet”? There are rules governing the admissibility of all forms of evidence, whether they be oral, written or in most instances observations that witnesses testify about. In regards to specific tweets, presumably authored by one of the alleged gang members, the state will have to authenticate the incriminating tweet, (somehow prove that it came from the person they believe wrote it). This is problematic. Many people could have access to a person’s twitter account and use it as their own or for instance the account could have been hacked. The state would offer to prove the authenticity of the tweets through the history of use of the account (who the person conversed with on twitter, did some of the tweets reference events that only the account holder had knowledge of, etc). Once the authenticity of the tweets is established the tweets would be used as an admission to committing the crimes.”

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NY Daily News

Woman Booted From Train for Talking on Cell Phone

Cellphone BlabbermouthOn May 18, 2011 Lakeysha Beard was kicked off an Amtrak train for talking on her cell phone.

According to eyewitnesses, Beard had been on her phone for 16 straight hours, talking loudly in great disregard to those around her. Passengers and even train staff asked her several times to be quiet, yet Beard refused to put down her phone. When one passenger confronted her about it, Beard got “aggressive.”

Beard was charged with disorderly conduct and escorted off the train.

Beard admitted to talking on her phone for 16 hours straight, but said she didn’t understand why she’d been escorted off the train.
Amtrak policy does have a rule against making obnoxious noise. This rule goes double for “quiet cars” such as the one Beard was riding in.

“Talking on the phone, even in disregard of those around you, is not a criminal act,” says Criminal Defense Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “Beard may have displayed disorderly conduct when people asked her to shut up, but talking on your phone for any amount of time is not a crime. This prosecution isn’t going anywhere.”

Watch video of Beard getting booted from the train.

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Was Bin Laden’s Killing Legal?

Bin LadenOsama Bin Laden was killed on May 1, 2011 during a raid by U.S. troops in Pakistan. Now many are questioning the legality of the killing.

The White House administration claims they acted under the full jurisdiction of international law. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the raid “was conducted in a manner fully consistent with the laws of war.”

The soldiers involved in the raid had full authority to kill Bin Laden if he resisted in any way. If he had thrown his hands up in surrender, they were to capture him. Initial reports indicated that Bin Laden was armed during the raid. Officials have since retracted this statement, saying that he was not armed but did put up a fight.

It is essentially a question of the facts surrounding the raid. If Bin Laden acted in any way that made US soldiers fear for their livelihood, then the killing was justified under international law.

Cherif Bassiouni, a former UN war crimes investigator feels that “it is necessary for the Navy to conduct an internal investigation into the appropriateness of the use of armed force. However, it is also important not to make the Navy SEALs be the scapegoats for (any) secret orders which the public is unaware of to simply kill bin Laden no matter what.”

“I can’t imagine the president being called to an international war tribunal for this,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “Similarly, there will be no investigation because it’s all on tape—we know because Obama was watching it as it happened. Bottom line: Obama will not be prosecuted.”

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Hennepin County Introduces New Smoking Ban

Hennepin Co. Smoking BanHennepin County has passed a new ordinance that bans smoking on County property. A ban previously existed restricting smoking in public places, but this new ordinance includes any outdoor property—even a person sitting in their own vehicle.

The Hennepin County Board passed the new ban in a 6-1 vote last month. Specifically, the ordinance bans smoking on all property where the County is the sole tenant. Previously, smoking was banned within 45 feet of the entrance to any government building. Now even people in privately owned cars may not smoke on County property.

County Commissioner, Jeff Johnson, was the only negative vote. He argues that the ordinance goes too far and should be changed to exclude the smoking-in-your-own-car clause.

This new ban goes into effect on July 1, 2011. The law exempts people smoking while driving down County roads.

“Although I’m disappointed with my county of residence for legislating morals, I don’t think there is any constitutional basis on which to fight this statute,” says Avery Appelman. “If you decide to light up on county property, make sure you bring your checkbook—it’s going to be an expensive cigarette.”

What do you think? Does this ordinance restrict civil rights too much?

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Parents Press Charges after Toddler Gets Drunk at Applebee’s

tipsy toddlerLast month, a 15-month-old child was accidentally served alcohol at a Michigan Applebee’s restaurant. Now the toddler’s parents have decided to press charges.

The incident occurred when Taylor Dill-Reese and Dominic Wilson brought their child, Dominic Lacey Wilson, out to a family dinner at Applebee’s. The Wilsons ordered a kids meal for their son that was supposed to come with apple juice. Due to a mix-up by the wait staff, the child was served alcoholic margarita mix instead.

After the Wilsons finally figured out what was going on, they took their son to a hospital where his blood alcohol content was allegedly measured at 0.10—just over the legal driving limit of 0.08. The child reportedly experienced hangover-like symptoms (headaches, nausea) for days following the incident.

The Wilsons’ attorney, William Stern, claims that the restaurant has a history of serving alcohol to infants. “It’s happened to them on multiple occasions,” Stern said. “This is an occasion that came really close to being tragic if the child had ingested a little more alcohol. Fortunately they caught it, when the child was acting drunk and the father tasted it and realized it wasn’t apple juice.”

Applebee’s is cooperating with the investigation and lawsuit, though they claim that the reports of the child’s intoxication are exaggerated.

“This appears to be another example of a lawsuit run amuck,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “In order to pursue a lawsuit, there need to be damages. There don’t appear to be any legitimate damages in this case. This is essentially a legalized shakedown.”

Is this a justified lawsuit? Or are the parents trying to “shakedown” Applebee’s for some extra cash?

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Mel Gibson Arrested for Battery on Night of ‘Beaver’ Premiere

Mel Gibson BatteryFamous Actor and hound of the media, Mel Gibson, was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge last month on the night of the premiere of his new film The Beaver.

Gibson pleaded no contest to his charge of battery against his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva. He received three years probation, 16 hours of community service, and was ordered to attend a year-long domestic violence counseling program.

“By pleading ‘no contest,’ Gibson is essentially saying that although he didn’t commit the crime, the government has enough evidence to convict him,” says Criminal Defense Attorney Avery Appelman. “It is a very convenient way to get deals done because the defendant does not have to admit guilt, and at the same time gets the benefit of a negotiated settlement. Unfortunately, Minnesota doesn’t have the ‘no contest’ option—you either committed the crime or you didn’t.”

Gibson and Grigorieva have an infant daughter together. They have been deep in a custody battle for months now. Grigorieva also has a teenage son with actor Timothy Dalton (of brief James Bond fame).

Supreme Court Judge Stephanie Sautner also issued a protective order forbidding Gibson from making any threats or becoming violent with Grigorieva or her children. As long as Gibson complies with the order he is allowed to see his daughter.

Gibson, an academy award winning actor, has had a tough several years. He was arrested for DWI in 2006, and made several now famous anti-Semitic and racist remarks to the arresting officer. His new film “The Beaver” is his first major starring role since 2002.

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12-Year-Old Boy Murders Parents, May Be Tried as Adult

Boy Murders ParentsA 12-year-old Colorado boy is currently being held in custody for his alleged connection with the murder of his mother and father.

Police discovered the bodies after the boy called 911 to report gunshots. They arrived to find the bodies of Charles and Marilyn Long, both fatally shot. The boy also allegedly attempted to stab his 5-year-old sister and succeeded in stabbing and shooting his 9-year-old brother. Police immediately took the boy into custody, and suspect him of committing both murders.

The boy’s siblings are on track to make full recoveries.

District Attorney Robert Watson is bringing nine charges against the boy, including two counts of 1st degree murder, among other charges. He is still considering whether or not to try the boy in adult court.

The boy was described as a good, wholesome kid by friends and family. He volunteered at his local church by handing out bulletins and greeting people. There were no known family issues that might’ve prompted the alleged attack.

“This is a tragic and devastating case,” says MN Criminal Defense Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “The accused is a child, and as such he should not be tried as an adult. Juvenile court exists for just this reason. Does this 12-year-old boy have the mental capacity to be tried as an adult? I think not. The judge and jury must make their decisions based on what’s in the best interest of the child, his family, and the community.”

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Minnesota DWI: Consequences

MN DWIMinnesota has the third most DWIs per capita of any state in the country. All Minnesota drivers need to be aware of the consequences of drunk driving before they get behind the wheel. Consider these consequences before you consider drinking and driving.

Criminal Consequences:

Criminal consequences of a MN DWI charge include: bail and conditions of release from custody, jail time, probation, court-ordered chemical dependency evaluation, and random testing.

Jail time and fines vary based on the degree and circumstances of the DWI charge.

Probation is meant to help the DWI offender reintegrate into society as a law abiding citizen. While on probation, offenders are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. They are also often required to obtain a chemical dependency evaluation and psychological assessment. For MN DWIs, probation periods range from several months, to six years.

Chemical dependency evaluations are used to determine how dependent a person is on chemicals such as drugs or alcohol. These are very commonly required following a DWI charge. If a dependency is found, the DWI offender is usually required to seek treatment in the form of rehabilitation, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and other mandatory classes.

Civil Consequences:

Civil consequences of a MN DWI conviction include: driver’s license revocation, vehicle forfeiture, license plate impoundment, and increased insurance rates.

Driver’s license revocation is problematic for most people who rely on driving themselves to work every day, or driving their kids to school or daycare. Driver’s license revocation periods are determined by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Learn the specifics of Driver’s License Revocation.

In Minnesota, the state can seize a vehicle used in a MN DWI offense if they allege it was employed in connection with a second or first degree DWI. The forfeiture of the vehicle can happen without a judicial decree, unless the MN drunk driver takes action to prevent it by filing a judicial demand for forfeiture within 30 days of receiving the state’s notice.

A vehicle used in the course of various DWI offenses may have its license plates impounded. Impoundment happens at the time of the arrest if law enforcement revokes an eligible person’s driving privileges because the person failed or refused to give a blood alcohol concentration test.

Insurance rates are severely impacted by having a DWI offense on your record. When you receive a DWI charge, two notations enter your traffic records that are visible to insurance companies. When your insurance provider sees a DWI charge on your record they will either drop your coverage or offer you “risk insurance,” which is coverage with over inflated prices (usually around $2 – $10 thousand over the next 10 years).

Expert Says Charlie Sheen is an Alcohol and Drug Addict

Guest Blog written by Chemical Dependency Expert, Steven J. Weber

As a Minnesota chemical dependency counselor, I have observed many of Charlie Sheen’s recent interviews and find them quite disturbing. I believe he is an alcoholic/addict who is in need of hospitalization for chemical dependency.

Charlie appears to be a well-defended, wounded soul struggling to find clarity in his addictive world. He has verbalized being different and superior to others and having a perfect life as his children are taken away, his career is in jeopardy, and his relationships deteriorate.

Take this video interview, for example, where Charlie makes statements like:

• “I’m a rock star.”
• “I’m different than others.”
• “I’m proud of my drug history.”
• “Dying is for fools.”
• “I’m not bipolar, I’m bi-winning.”

These statements, as well as his overall behavior, are evidence that Charlie has suffered a drug induced psychosis characterized by a derangement of personality and loss of contact with reality. His world has crashed down on him and yet he verbalizes having a perfect life.

Many people have stated that Charlie is bipolar. Applying this diagnosis is difficult when a person is actively using chemicals or has been sober for only a short period of time. A bipolar diagnosis should be made after a person has three to six months of sobriety. Only after this period of sobriety can you differentiate between addictive characteristics and mental health issues.

Charlie shares many common characteristics of an addict, such as:

• Inflated ego
• Denial in the form of minimizing the impact drugs are playing in his life
• Isolation
• Living with people who enable his self-destruction and delusional world

Charlie Sheen needs support in the form of detox to peel away the denial associated with his alcoholism/addiction. However, I fear it will be difficult for Charlie to get clean due to his level of defensiveness and the many resources available to him. This is a sad story of addiction and the deterioration of a talented, gifted human being on a suicide mission.

Steven J. Weber
Steven Weber is a Minnesota chemical dependency counselor and the owner of Accurate Testing, Inc. For 30 years, he has worked with adolescent and adult clients who have suffered greatly from their chemical use. Accurate Testing provides chemical health assessments, cognitive group counseling, educational services, and drug and alcohol testing.