Tag Archives: MN criminal defense

Former Porn Star Jenna Jameson Charged With Misdemeanor Assault

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAFormer “queen of porn” Jenna Jameson was arrested over the weekend and charged with misdemeanor battery. According to Orange County, CA law enforcement, the altercation look place on Saturday night. Allegedly, Jameson assaulted someone at her Newport Beach home. That person then placed her under citizens arrest and flagged down police, at which time the former porn star was taken into police custody.

Although the police have not released many details regarding this weekend’s incident, various third-party sources have suggested and confirmed that the alleged victim is Jenna Jameson’s friend and personal assistant, the transgender porn actress Britney Markham. On Sunday, Jameson (@jennajameson) tweeted:

“Wow just got Robbed by a friend @britneymarkham she accused me of gusting her, and them broke into my home and took everything.”

Jenna Jameson’s Tweet has since been deleted. Seemingly in response, Markham sent a photo of herself in a hospital gown via Twitter with the caption:  “This what u did to me and u accuse me of stealing.”

In Minnesota, Jameson likely would be charged with 5th degree assault and battery, the least serious assault charge in the state. It can be either a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor charge and carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a fine of  $1,000.  She was released and no bail was set. A court hearing has been scheduled.

Jenna Jameson, who is the most successful adult film actress in history, is no stranger to run-ins with the law. In May of 2012, Jameson was arrested and subsequently charged with a DUI after crashing her Range Rover into a light post and failing a field sobriety test.  As of this weekend, Jameson was still on probation for that DUI charge, and it is unclear how her battery assault will affect the status of her probation.

Although 5th degree assault and battery is only a misdemeanor charge, and overzealous prosecution team, an offender’s current probation, and any number of other factors can affect the outcome of a seemingly-small criminal charge. If you are arrested or under investigation for an assault charge in Minnesota, contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.

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The Inquisitr


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.

MPLS Police Officer Arrested For Statutory Rape

schnickelA Minneapolis police officer has been arrested for the sexual assault of three teenage girls he met online. 32-year-old Bradley Schnickel has worked as a patrol officer for the Minneapolis Police Department since 2008. He has not yet been charged and a bail hearing is set for this Friday.

Schncikel was nominated for a Medal of Commendation in 2011 for risking his safety to stop a fleeing suspect. However, he is now being investigated for three separate sexual assaults involving underage girls. The parents of one girl alerted police when they saw that their daughter was communicating inappropriately with an older man through a social media website. Police tracked the IP address to the officer’s computer.

This investigation unearthed Schnickel’s communication with two other underage girls. The sexual contact was allegedly consensual, but statutory rape laws in Minnesota dictate that such actions would still be charged as sexual assault, given that the girls were under the legal age of consent in the state.

Because Schnickel was off-duty when these communications and contacts occurred, he will not be receiving legal representation from the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. A local MN criminal defense attorney who has a history of representing police officers said that one of his firm’s attorneys would attend the bail hearing on behalf of Schnickel, but that neither he nor any of his attorneys have been retained to defend the case.

In Minnesota, the legal age of consent for sexual contact is 16. This means that if a legal adult engages in sexual conduct with a person under the age of 16, it is considered statutory rape and may be prosecuted as sexual assault. Regardless of whether the sexual contact was consensual, if convicted the offender faces registration as a sex offender, in addition to criminal penalties. These penalties vary based on the circumstances of the offense. If you are arrested for or under investigation for statutory sexual assault, you need to call an experienced sex crimes attorney right away.

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Pioneer Press

Troubled Crime Lab Seeking New Direction

crimelabEarlier, we wrote about the issues plaguing the St. Paul crime lab. Testing was suspended after an investigation revealed sloppy drug-testing procedures within the lab. Now, the city is seeking to reopen the facility, but under a very different brand of management.

Formerly, the lab was run by police sergeants. Now, however, the city is opening up the management position to someone with a scientific background. Candidates must hold a degree in chemistry, biology, biochemistry, or a related field.

The validity of many drug crime evidence samples tested at the lab is still being determined. A judge will decide if the samples are admissible in court. If it is determined otherwise, hundreds of drug cases processed by the crime lab could stand to be overturned.

This is a fascinating story to follow from a criminal defense perspective. The implications of the crime lab fallout could be enormous. Beyond the potential reversal of convictions, crime labs across the country are also likely to be subjected to further scrutiny.

Related Sources:

Pioneer Press

Star Tribune

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.

Minnesota Gun Laws

2ndsToday, in the wake of the tragic Sandy Hook massacre, President Obama announced that he would be formulating new proposals for gun control nationwide.  Specifically, reinstating the ban on semiautomatic assault weapons which expired in 2004. However, for many Americans—and many Minnesotans—the current firearm laws still remain a mystery.

So what are the current gun regulations in Minnesota? According to the NRA:

A handgun or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon may be sold by a dealer to a person who presents a handgun transferee permit or carry permit, or to a person who has undergone a seven (7) day waiting period where a transfer report has been filed. People must be 21 or older to purchase a semiautomatic assault weapon, however, it is not illegal for people over the age of 18 to own such weapons.

Any person carrying a loaded BB gun, rifle, or shotgun on or about their person, not expressly to or from the place where the firearms are bought, sold, traded, displayed, or where hunting, target shooting, or other lawful activity occurs, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. It is also a misdemeanor to carry a handgun on or about their person while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance.

A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who negligently stores or leaves a loaded firearm in a location where the persons knows, or reasonably should know, that a child is likely to gain access, unless reasonable action is taken to secure the firearm against access by the child.

It shall be unlawful to take any wild animal by means of discharging any firearm from a motor vehicle.  A special permit may be acquired, without a fee, to discharge a firearm or bow and arrow from a stationary motor vehicle to a person who has a permanent physical disability.  Game wardens may confiscate firearms used in unlawful hunting.

In Minnesota, “false representation” on a gun permit application is a gross misdemeanor offense.  Additionally, firearm possession by an ineligible party is also a crime in Minnesota. Those who are not allowed to legally possess a firearm are:

-Prior conviction of just about any crime

-Juvenile delinquency adjudication for violation of a criminal statute

-History of mental illness

-History of chemical dependency

Often, unrelated felony and certain misdemeanor convictions can make a person ineligible to lawfully possess a firearm. It’s yet another civil consequence handed down by the justice system. Unlawful weapons possession is also a serious offense in Minnesota. If you are under arrest or being investigated on a weapons offense—or any offense—contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.

Woman Facing Felony Assault Charges when Man Tried to Keep her from Driving Intoxicated

A Minnesota woman is now facing felony charges after allegedly assaulting a man who attempted to prevent her from driving while intoxicated with her 2-year-old son in the car.

One December 10th, police were called to the Inver Grove Heights home of 28-year-old Desiree Smith on reports of domestic assault. According to police reports, the male victim told police that Smith was drinking and the two were arguing, and that she intended to leave in the car with their young son.  The man then took away Smith’s keys; she then began to hit him and he fled to a bedroom. When he opened the door, the victim told police that he saw Smith carrying their son and took him away from her. Smith then punched him in the mouth and later, threatened him with a kitchen knife. The victim also told police that Smith bit him.

When police arrived, they found blood on the floor and the victim with a bloodied and swollen lip. Smith was arrested, and smelled strongly of alcohol.

Desiree Smith was later charged with:

1 count second degree assault with a dangerous weapon: assault in the second degree is a felony offense punishable by up to seven to 10 years and $14,000 – $20,000 in fines. A person will likely be charged with second degree assault if they:

  1. Assault another with a dangerous weapon
  2. Assault another with a dangerous weapon and inflict substantial bodily harm

2 counts domestic assault, both misdemeanor charges. A second domestic assault case within 10 years will result in a gross misdemeanor charge and potential sentence of up to one year in jail and $3,000 in fines. If you have two or more domestic assault convictions in less than 10 years, you may be charged with a felony offense. This charge carries up to five years in state prison and fines reaching $10,000.

Smith has been released from custody and is awaiting trial. Her omnibus hearing is scheduled for January 7th in Dakota County.

Relates Sources:

MN Patchsmith


12/12/12: Repeating Date, Repeat Offenses

12/12/2012- December 12th, 2012 is the last repeating date of the century. In honor of this memorable day, we’re going to take a look at repetition in the criminal defense context.

The Minnesota criminal justice system does not favor repeat offenders.  In particular, penalties for repeat DWI offenses operate on a very clear sliding scale.

For DWI offenses, the law includes provisions for aggravating factors which can affect the severity of the DWI charge. These aggravating factors are:

There are 4 degrees of DWI charges:
  • A 4th degree DWI is a misdemeanor violation. This charge ensues when the DWI offense does not include any aggravating factors.
  • A 3rd degree DWI requires one (1) aggravating factor to be present. This is a gross-misdemeanor charge.
  • A 2nd degree DWI requires two (2) aggravating factors to be present. This is also a gross-misdemeanor.
  • A 1st degree DWI is a felony offense, not dependent on the presence of aggravating factors. This charge may only be filed if the offender has 4 previous DWI in the past 10 years.

Minnesota law states that repeat DWI offenders must be subjected to mandatory minimum sentences:

2nd & 3rd degree DWI

  • 2nd offense in 10 years—30 days in jail, at least 48 hours of which must be served in a local correctional facility, or eight hours of community work service for each day less than 30 that the person is ordered to serve.
  • 3rd offense within ten years—90 days in jail, at least 30 days of which must be served consecutively in a local correctional facility and up to 60 days may be served on home detention or intensive probation.

1st degree DWI

The mandatory minimum sentence for a 1st degree felony DWI is 3 years incarceration. However, the court may override this minimum and instead order that the offender serve an alternative sentence:

  • 4th offense in 10 years- 180 days incarceration, of which at least 30 days must be served consecutively in a local correctional facility and up to 150 days may be served on home detention or intensive probation.
  • 5th or subsequent offense in 10 years- not less than one year of incarceration, of which at least 60 days must be served consecutively in a local correctional facility and the remainder may be served on home detention or intensive probation using an electronic monitoring system.

On the last repeating date of the century, don’t make the mistake of becoming a repeat offender.  If you find yourself in trouble, contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.

Sex Offender Charged with Sexual Assault

A Hopkins man has been arrested and charged with third-degree sexual conduct. 49-year-old Todd Steven Wehner was already registered sex offender in Texas under the name Todd Wayner and was convicted of indecency with a child in 1995.

According to police reports, officers were dispatched on November 22nd at around 10 p.m.  to investigate complaints of domestic assault. A woman–who later identified herself as Wehner’s girlfriend–was found upset and visibly assaulted, not far from Wehner’s home. According to the victim, she and an intoxicated Wehner started arguing. He punched her several times, then grabbed her and through her outside. When she returned, Wehner commanded her to go to the bedroom, then walked up to her and forced his hand down her pants. She told him to stop,. According to the complaint, he then pushed her to the floor, covered her mouth, and sexually assaulted her in the kitchen. After the incident, he threw her out of the house, at which point she called 911 and was taken to the hospital.

According to Hennepin County, Wehner remains in jail on a $100,000 bond. His omnibus hearing is scheduled for December 14th. Wehner has been charged with one count of sexual assault, no additional assault or domestic assault charges have been filed.

Third degree criminal sexual conduct is a felony charge in Minnesota. If convicted, Wehner faces up to 15 years in prison and $30,000 in fines.

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Two MN Men Charged After Sex-Trafficking Sting

Two Minnesota men have been arrested on various charges related to a recent underage sex trafficking sting. Bernard Elvet Morris was the alleged ringleader of the operation and has been accused of arranging the sexual transactions in his Minneapolis home. He has been charged with two counts of solicitation, inducement, and promotion of prostitution and one count of prostitution.

Thanh Huu Bui was charged with solicitation of a minor to engage in prostitution and prostitution, both felony charges.

According to the young teenaged runaway, Morris picked her up on September 25th and later began hiring her out to other men from his home. Morris made a full admission to police and cooperated with investigators by setting up sting operations with some of his clients.

Both men were arrested on October 25th when police monitored a phone call between Bui and Morris in which Morris arranged for Bui to come to his South Minneapolis to have sex with the 15 or 16 year-old girl. According to the girl, Morris had made such transactions on “numerous occasions” and would often pay her for sex himself.

Bernard Morris faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $40,000 fine. Thanh Bui faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

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