In Personam Assault and Injury Crimes in Minneapolis
In rem cases are a mixture of misdemeanors and felonies. For example, most drug possession cases are felonies. A few, such as marijuana possession, are normally misdemeanors. Likewise, in personam infractions are a combination of misdemeanors and felonies. However, regardless of the legal level, all of them have serious direct and collateral consequences.
Driving While Intoxicated could be considered an in rem or an in personam offense. However, since DWI-collision cases are clearly in personam offenses, we’ll discuss it here.
“Driving” actually means “operating.” If the defendant was passed out behind the wheel, DWI charges could hold up in court, if the defendant had the keys and the car was drivable. Furthermore, that driving must occur in a public place. Large apartment or townhome complexes, even if the streets have names and stop signs or other traffic control devices, are not public places.
“While intoxicated” means a loss of normal physical or mental faculties or a BAC above the legal limit. Field sobriety tests, such as the walk and turn (walking a straight line), usually provide circumstantial evidence of loss of faculties. The state must prove the tests were fair and that the defendant did poorly on them because of intoxication as opposed to fatigue, nervousness, or clumsiness.
For noncommercial drivers, the BAC level is usually .08. Breathalyzer tests are not always accurate, and blood test results are not always accurate either.
First-time DWI with a BAC under .16 is normally a misdemeanor. Aggravated DWI is usually a felony. Aggravating circumstances include multiple prior convictions in the last ten years and special facts, like a very high BAC, a collision, or a minor passenger under 16.
DWI convictions also have substantial collateral consequences. Frequently, these convictions cause auto insurance rates to triple. These individuals also have a hard time finding jobs, particularly jobs which require any driving or exercise of discretion.
Ordinary assault, including most domestic assaults, is a misdemeanor. Aggravated assault, which could involve the nature of the alleged victim or the extent of injury, is a felony.
Ordinary assault is basically common-law battery. That’s any harmful or offensive touch. Bodily injury is not an element of assault. An injury simply makes the case easier to prove. Furthermore, maliciousness is not an element. Prosecutors must only prove the touch was intentional (i.e. not accidental).
Domestic assault, or domestic battery, almost always involves a husband and wife. Other relationships, such as two people related by blood or marriage, are protected as well.
Aggravated assault could mean using a dangerous weapon during the assault, causing significant injury, or assaulting a person in a protected class. Almost any object, such as a golf club or a frying pan, could be a dangerous weapon. Significant injury could mean first aid, an ER visit, or hospital admission. Protected classes include emergency responders and prison guards.
Since the burden of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) is so high in these cases, a lack of evidence is often an effective defense. Many times, especially after a bar fight, the alleged victim only got a glimpse of the attacker. Voluntary intoxication is a defense in certain aggravated assault matters. Legally, intoxicated people cannot intend both the conduct (hitting a person) and the result (seriously injuring the person).
Minnesota has relatively broad self-defense laws. Defendants may use a subjectively reasonable amount of force to fend off a threat to themselves, their property, or other people. Minnesota is not a stand-your-ground state. So, defendants have a duty to retreat, if possible, before they may use force.
On a related note, alleged victims cannot “drop” assault charges. Alleged victims are basically witnesses. Witnesses cannot drop charges. Only prosecutors have this authority. In fact, if alleged victims refuse to cooperate, prosecutors can subpoena them and force them to testify.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, an assault lawyer in Minneapolis may be able to help you.
Criminal Sexual Conduct
CSC is an umbrella term which covers everything from reckless indecent exposure, which is a relatively minor misdemeanor, to aggravated sexual assault, which is one of the most serious felonies in Minnesota.
A so-called “rape kit” is not proof of rape. This evidence proves the two people had intercourse and might even prove the intercourse was violent. But it cannot prove or disprove consent. Legally, consent is a voluntary, overt act. Consent in the past might be relevant to present content, but it certainly does not establish this fact. Some individuals, usually because of age or an incapacitated state, cannot consent.
Sex offender registration is probably the worst collateral consequence of a CSC. In Minnesota, most offenders must register for at least ten years. There are three registration levels, as follows:
- Level I (registration information is not publicly available),
- Level II (this data is publicly available), and
- Level III (publicly-available data and law enforcement officers usually hold town hall meetings and other such events).
Risk of re-offense is the main factor. So, an indecent exposure conviction could mean Level III registration. At a subsequent hearing, a Minneapolis sex crimes defense attorney can lower the risk level.