These infractions are punishable by up to a year in jail. Although the direct consequences are somewhat low, do not be deceived. A year in jail is a very long time. Additionally, many misdemeanors have collateral consequences which, in many cases, are worse than the direct consequences.
Ordinary assault and domestic battery are two of the most commonly charged misdemeanors in Hennepin County. Typically, both infractions are verbal arguments which got a little too heated. Frequently, alcohol is involved as well.
Essentially, ordinary assault is the statutory equivalent of common-law battery. That offense is a harmful or offensive touch. Physical injury is not a requirement. Any touch suffices. Physical injury simply makes the offense easier to prove in court. Malice is not a requirement either. Prosecutors must simply prove the touch was offensive (i.e. not accidental).
We all know that words can hurt. But verbal assault is not punishable under this statute. It might be punishable under a different statute, such as reckless conduct. Acts like knocking a person’s hat off his/her head might constitute ordinary assault in some cases.
Assault is a crime of moral turpitude which could have immigration and naturalization consequences.
In terms of criminal law, domestic battery is the same offense as ordinary assault. However, these cases are different procedurally. Normally, designated family violence judges preside over these cases. Therefore, things like probation conditions are often unique. Additionally, domestic battery has significant collateral consequences in family court.
Furthermore, police officers in most jurisdictions must share protective order information with alleged domestic battery victims. Typically, judges issue ex parte protective orders based on the alleged victim’s affidavit. After a full hearing, they may expand the order both in terms of length and content. A permanent protective order might last up to two years. Additional orders could include surrendering firearms, vacating a shared residence, and paying financial support.
In addition to reckless conduct, other assault-like offenses include stalking, violating a protective order, and criminal trespass. These are all misdemeanors.
Consulting an accomplished Assault lawyer in Minnesota is crucial to understanding your case and protecting your rights.
In many jurisdictions, DWI defendants make up about half the probationers. Authorities are this aggressive because alcohol or drug use is a factor in about half of the fatal car accidents in Minnesota.
To establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecutors can use circumstantial or direct evidence. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” basically means an abiding conviction of guilt and that the evidence is so overwhelming the prosecutor’s version of events is the only reasonable explanation.
Circumstantial evidence usually involves the field sobriety test results. As mentioned above, physical evidence of consumption does not constitute probable cause. To meet this higher standard of evidence, prosecutors normally rely on:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: During the DWI eye test, officers look for involuntary pupil movements at certain viewing angles. These movements indicate that the subject has nystagmus, a condition also known as lazy eye. Alcohol is not the only cause, or even the leading cause, of nystagmus. Furthermore, roadside HGN tests are not conducted under controlled conditions, so their results are suspect.
- One Leg Stand: Suspects must stand on one leg for about fifteen seconds without swaying or using their arms for balance. It is almost impossible for people who are not in excellent physical condition to pass this test, whether they are drunk or sober.
- Heel to Toe Walk: Somewhat similarly, people with any mobility impairments cannot walk a straight line, especially an imaginary line.
Furthermore, it’s very hard to walk a straight line while wearing anything other than athletic shoes. The test environment matters as well. Very few parking lots and street shoulders are perfectly flat. Test-takers must also deal with distractions, like flashing squad car lights in the background.
If officers suspect that the driver is impaired because of drug use, the field sobriety tests work a bit differently. Frequently, arresting officers summon DREs (Drug Recognition Experts) to the scene. These individuals invariably testify that the defendant did poorly on the field sobriety tests because of drug impairment. However, their opinion is usually a self-fulfilling prophecy. They know they are at the scene to make such a determination. And, if you look for evidence of something, you typically find it, even if you have to stretch the facts.
Furthermore, DWI-drug cases almost always rely on circumstantial evidence. A blood test could detect the presence of drugs, but blood tests are rare in DWI cases. More on that below.
Minnesota has a very broad DWI-drug law. In addition to driving under the influence of street drugs, it’s also illegal to drive under the influence of legally acquired painkillers and other prescription drugs. Certain over-the-counter drugs, like NyQuil and Benadryl, might also qualify as dangerous drugs under this law.
Direct evidence of alcohol intoxication almost always involves a Breathalyzer test. Much like its predecessor, the 1920s Drunk-O-Meter, a Breathalyzer measures breath alcohol level and uses that number to estimate blood alcohol level, which is the legal standard in Minnesota. Typically, the limit is .08 BAC. The limit is lower for commercial operators and minors under 21.
Much like the Drunk-O-Meter, the Breathalyzer has a number of scientific and technical flaws. Some of them include:
- Mouth Alcohol: A burp or belch in the fifteen minutes prior to the test floods the mouth with alcohol particles from the stomach. As a result, the BAC estimate might be artificially high.
- Improper Calibration: All scientific instruments, including the Breathalyzer, are rather delicate. Improper calibration is especially a problem for portable Breathalyzers. As a rule of thumb, the more bells and whistles a gadget has, the more technical attention it requires.
- Ketone Levels: Diabetics, smokers, and other individuals have naturally high ketone levels in their bodies. Breathalyzers register these particles as ethanol. So, once again, the BAC estimate might be artificially high.
To drive home these and other flaws with jurors, many Minnesota criminal defense lawyers partner with degreed chemists. These professionals carry much more credibility than the police Breathalyzer techs that prosecutors rely on.
Make it a point to get in touch with a Minnesota DWI defense lawyer to understand your options and defenses.
Normally, theft is the taking of property without the effective consent of the owner. Taking property is not synonymous with removing it. Moving an item from the regular rack to the discount rack constitutes theft. So does keeping rental property past the due date and joyriding in someone else’s car.
Petty theft is a misdemeanor. Prosecutors can upgrade charges to grand theft, which is a felony, based on the value of the item or its membership in a certain category. For example, auto theft is always grand theft, regardless of the car’s value.
Delay, which is frustrating for everyone, is usually the best defense in a theft case. Prosecutors normally allege that the security guard mentioned in the police report is the property’s “owner.” There is usually a gap of several months, or even a year, between the incident and the trial. During that time period, many of these people relocate beyond the court’s subpoena power. If that happens, the state cannot produce the owner, and the case collapses like a house of cards.
Robbery, which is theft plus force or the threat of force, is a felony.
Depending on the case facts, a Theft lawyer in Minnesota may be able to defend you and get positive outcomes.