What Is Joint Custody in Minnesota?

Deciding who should have custody of the children can be one of the most difficult aspects of the divorce process. It’s essential that as a parent, you ask the question, What is joint custody in Minnesota? The most qualified persons to tell you are a  Minnesota family law attorney, but we’re also offering some tips and advice.

The nature of custody arrangements when a divorce is finalized can vary significantly on a case-by-case basis. A judge will consider many factors when making decisions about how a child is to be raised after their parents get a divorce.

Sometimes, a judge will determine that joint custody is ideal. This overview will cover what joint custody is in Minnesota and when it might be granted, helping you better understand how this arrangement may impact you, your spouse, and most importantly, your child.

Types of Child Custody in Minnesota

Before learning about joint custody in Minnesota, it’s necessary to be familiar with the two types of custody a court may grant. They are:

  • Physical custody, which involves the right to make key decisions about a child’s routine, daily activities, and where they live.
  • Legal custody, which applies to decisions about how to raise a child. For example, a parent granted legal custody over a child has the right to make decisions about their health and religious education or training.

There are instances when a court will grant sole physical custody, legal custody, or both to one parent. However, it’s not uncommon for courts to grant joint custody.

What Joint Custody in Minnesota Involves

Joint custody in Minnesota also comes in two forms:

  • Joint physical custody, in which both parents are involved in making decisions about a child’s routine and care.
  • Joint legal custody, which allows both parents to make decisions regarding how a child may be raised.

It’s worth noting that parents granted joint custody in any form don’t necessarily have equal custody. For example, a court may grant both parents joint physical custody of a child. This doesn’t mean the child has to spend an equal amount of time living with both parents. Although that can happen, it’s somewhat uncommon, particularly when parents don’t end up living close enough to one another to allow a child to split their time equally between their homes while still attending one school, maintaining the same general routine, etc.

Joint physical custody may be more likely to involve the court deciding that a child must spend a certain amount of time with one parent. For example, a child may spend every other weekend with one parent. This allows them to maintain a degree of routine and stability while also ensuring that a parent still has the right to see their child on a somewhat regular basis.

Factors Influencing Joint Custody Decisions in Minnesota

Courts will account for a variety of factors when determining whether to grant joint custody in Minnesota. They include the following:

The Child’s Wishes

Sometimes, a court will make custody decisions based on the wishes of the child. However, they only do so when it’s determined that a child is mature enough to express a “reasonable preference.”

For instance, a teenager might be deemed mature enough to make this type of decision, while a very young child might not be. A mature child’s preference might also apply to whether joint custody is granted if a child expresses a desire to split their time between two parents who also agree to this type of resolution.

Abuse

Naturally, if abuse has occurred, even if the children haven’t been the direct targets of it, the judge will typically favor the parent who didn’t commit abuse. A court is unlikely to grant joint custody when abuse is involved.

Current Roles

Often, one parent has been more involved in the overall care and upbringing of a child than another, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, divorcing spouses have nevertheless both been involved in caring for a child to a significant degree. Joint custody may be an option in these cases.

Adjustment issues

Forcing a child to adjust to a new home or school can substantially disrupt their life. Forcing them to split their time between two parents who live somewhat far from each other can have a similar effect. However, if granting joint custody won’t have a major disruptive impact, a court may do so.

Ability

A judge will typically account for the ability of the parents to provide their child with care, support, education, and guidance when making custody decisions. They might be more inclined to grant joint custody if it appears both parents have the capacity to reasonably provide for a child.

Cooperation

Joint custody naturally involves both parents working together to make decisions about a child’s upbringing, daily routine, or both, depending on the type of joint custody that’s granted. Parents must therefore be able to communicate and coordinate to a reasonable degree. A judge will consider whether they appear able to do so when deciding whether to grant joint custody.

Dispute resolution methods

Along with considering whether both parents are generally able to cooperate, a judge will also typically account for the methods they use to resolve disputes about a child’s life, and whether they seem willing and able to apply those methods in a productive and healthy manner.

Detriment

There are some instances when, for various reasons, it may appear that allowing one parent to have sole custody of a child will be detrimental to said child in some way. If this is the case, joint custody might be granted.

The Parents’ Wishes

Not all divorces involve lengthy and painful disputes. Sometimes, both parents can agree to joint custody. This is often easier to achieve when skilled family lawyers are involved.

A court may of course be more likely to grant joint custody when two parents agree it’s what’s best for a child. However, a judge will also account for the degree to which both parents seem genuinely willing to allow the other to be involved in a child’s life. If there is strong reason to believe one parent won’t actually honor the terms of a joint custody agreement, a judge might feel granting sole custody to the other parent is the better option. That said, a judge is unlikely to overrule the mutual decision of two parents except in very rare circumstances.

Reasons a Court May Grant Joint Custody in Minnesota

Along with the reasons mentioned above, such as a child’s preferences, other reasons a court may grant joint custody in Minnesota include the following:

Relieving Burdens

Raising a child on one’s own can be very difficult. Even if a parent is relatively suited to care for a child, a court may decide they can’t do so on their own. Or, a court may decide that requiring one parent to raise a child without help is unreasonable. This is one of the most common reasons courts grant joint custody.

Promoting Cooperation

Even when one parent is granted sole custody, another parent will often have the right to see their child and be involved in their life to some degree. That parent may then try to be involved in raising the child. This can cause disputes that are not in the child’s best interests.

However, when parents are granted joint custody, a child provides a “common ground.” Both parents must learn to cooperate when making decisions about a child’s upbringing, education, and more. This can be difficult at first, but in the long run, being required to cooperate can help parents learn to work together without friction, resulting in a more desirable outcome for a child.

Optimizing a Child’s Upbringing

A court may determine that both parents have strengths and resources that would benefit a child as they grow up. Depriving a child of those advantages by granting sole custody to one parent might seem to be the wrong decision. In order for a child to receive the maximum benefits, a court may grant joint custody.

Reasons a Court Might Not Grant Joint Custody in Minnesota

Again, abuse and other factors may contribute to a decision not to grant joint custody. Other reasons a court may decide sole custody is the preferred arrangement include:

Stress of Moving

A judge may decide that, based on various factors (such as the distances between the homes of two parents or significant differences in the home environments), frequently moving back and forth between two homes isn’t best for a child. If so, joint custody could be unlikely.

Disputes

Joint custody can promote greater cooperation for some couples. However, there are instances when two parents simply can’t cooperate, and a joint custody arrangement will result in disputes and conflict that are harmful to a child.

Essentially, developing a parenting plan for a child when you’re going through a divorce can be a complex process that requires accounting for numerous factors, being honest with your spouse about your plans, and perhaps even making concessions, all in the effort to ensure the resolution is in your child’s best interests.

What is Joint Custody? Ask a Family Law Lawyer in Minnesota

This isn’t meant to discourage you. While this process can be difficult, it doesn’t necessarily need to be as challenging as you imagine. A Minnesota divorce lawyer can help you reach an outcome that’s ideal for all parties involved. They’ll also protect your rights if your spouse is demanding sole custody unreasonably.

What Is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Minnesota Going to Do for Me?

DPS’s most recent Uniform Crime Report detailed that Minnesota police made over 150,000 criminal arrests in 2019. If you’re asking what is a criminal defense attorney in Minnesota going to do for me, the answer could be a lot.

If you’ve been charged or convicted of a crime, you need a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer can fight for the best outcome whether you’re accused of a drug crime, an assault, or some other criminal offense.

Why else should you hire a lawyer for your criminal case? We’re telling you everything you need to know about criminal defense attorneys in this guide, so keep reading.

Types of Criminal Defense Attorneys

When you’re charged with a crime, the best criminal lawyer will represent you throughout the phases of your trial. If you’re convicted, a lawyer can also help you get the charge off your record.

Anyone charged with a criminal offense in Minnesota is entitled to legal defense. But the type of defense attorney you work with depends on what you can afford. Here are the three types of criminal defenders you can work with.

Panel Lawyers

Panel lawyers are private attorneys offering representation to defendants who can’t afford private counsel. Courts appoint panel attorneys in states that don’t have a public defender system. Minnesota isn’t one of those states.

Public Defenders

In Minnesota, public defenders are court-appointed lawyers. Like panel attorneys, public defenders represent indigent criminal defendants.

Private Lawyers

Criminal defendants who can afford legal representation hire private defense attorneys. Private lawyers charge clients on a per-hour basis or by a fixed fee. Some lawyers make representation affordable by offering pro-bono representation or payment plans.

Many private attorneys start off as public defenders or prosecutors. That means they, too, have experience as court-appointed attorneys.

The benefit of hiring private attorneys is that they often have more experience because they’ve practiced for longer. Experienced lawyers leverage this experience to negotiate favorable plea deals. Plus, you can choose the private defender who’s best for your unique case.

Still, studies show that outcomes for criminal cases are similar for private lawyers and court-appointed public defendants.

Who Needs a Criminal Defense Attorney?

By now, you may be wondering: do I need a criminal defense lawyer? If a Minnesota court charged you with a crime, you need an attorney. You should also consider legal representation to get a conviction off your record.

Self-Representation in Minnesota Criminal Cases

In Minnesota, pro se representation is legal. That means you can represent yourself in a criminal case. However, we never advise self-representation for criminal defendants.

You have a lot to lose in a criminal defense case. Criminal charges in Minnesota can earn you between $1,000 and $3,000 in fines. Worse, you could end up serving at least 90 days in jail or up to a lifetime in prison.

A Minnesota court may not even accept self-representation if your charges are particularly severe. Your education level and language skills, legal knowledge of the proceedings, and the charge’s seriousness are other factors courts consider before allowing a defendant to represent himself or herself.

Types of Cases Defense Attorneys Handle

A criminal defense attorney doesn’t handle just any case. These legal experts have the experience and skills to defend criminal cases.

But what exactly counts as a criminal case in Minnesota? Here are seven of the most common criminal charges a lawyer can defend you against.

DWIs

A DWI or DUI charge is one of the most common reasons for hiring a defense lawyer. After all, DUI convictions often come with consequences like forfeiting your license, paying fines, or even prison time. A lawyer can help you avoid the worst of these penalties.

DUI lawyers can also help you get a conviction off your record. This is important because some employers won’t hire applicants with a criminal record. And many car insurance companies force you to purchase a pricier policy because of your DUI.

Drug Crimes

The production, sale, possession, distribution, and trafficking of controlled substances are illegal in Minnesota.

Drug sale convictions can earn you a fine of $10,000 to up to $1 million and prison time of five to thirty years. Possession of drugs can get you up to 158 months in prison, depending on how much you have on you. And trafficking and transport charges can earn you even more significant penalties.

The good news is that a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney can negotiate down your charges, reducing potential penalties. Ensuring you don’t have a drug crime charge is critical, too — drug crime punishments get worse if you have prior convictions on your record.

Assault

Minnesota charges assault and battery as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

If the assault doesn’t result in injury, the court will likely treat the case as a misdemeanor. For example, Minnesota considers simple assault a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in the county jail and up to a $1000 fine.

Meanwhile, assault and battery cases involving weapons almost always incur felonies. And an assault felony can automatically earn you over a year in prison.

Hiring an assault lawyer will ensure you get the lowest penalty possible. The police may have already made a report, but your lawyer will gather facts to get the complete picture. The more evidence you have on your side, the greater your chances of lessening your fines and/or jail sentence.

Domestic Violence

There’s a difference between assault and domestic violence cases. Domestic violence charges apply to cases of stalking, abuse, rape, and kidnapping perpetrated by someone the victim is closely related to. This includes spouses, a parent and child, dating partners, or cohabitants.

In Minnesota, courts treat domestic violence charges extremely seriously. Violators could receive a felony charge even it’s a first-time offense. And if you’re charged with three domestic violence misdemeanors within 10 years, it’s almost automatically a felony.

Luckily, an experienced domestic violence lawyer can help. Prosecutors love to seek heftier penalties for domestic violence cases compared to regular assault. Your lawyer can get you the best possible outcome in this kind of situation.

Theft

Theft charges range from small robberies to grand larceny. Many first-time offense theft cases only incur misdemeanors. But penalties grow more serious the more theft charges on your record, when you use a weapon during the robbery, and as the total value of the stolen goods increases.

And theft cases don’t only incur criminal penalties (e.g., jail time and fines). They also lead to civil penalties. For example, many courts force defendants to compensate plaintiffs for the items stolen.

An attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor or the judge to reduce your charges. If it’s a minor, first-time offense, you could potentially get the case dismissed altogether. A defense attorney can also help you expunge prior theft convictions from your record.

Weapons Crimes

Possessing a firearm without a license is illegal in Minnesota. It’s also illegal to own and/or operate an unregistered firearm. And there are dozens of additional weapons-related laws you must adhere to or else risk a criminal charge.

Punishments for weapons crimes in Minnesota vary depending on the exact charge. As an example, merely possessing a firearm without a license could earn you a gross misdemeanor charge. And gross misdemeanors are punishable by up to $1000 fines and 90 days in jail.

Having a prior record can increase the punishment for weapons charges even further. Choosing the best criminal defense attorney in Minnesota can reduce your charges and wipe away prior convictions from your record.

Sex Crimes

The state of Minnesota classifies five levels of sex crimes. The most severe convictions can bring about up to 30 years in prison and a $40,000 fine. But repeat or particularly violent offenders are eligible for lifetime sentences in prison without the possibility of parole.

Sex crime convictions also mean you’ll have to register as a sex offender and notify your community about your sex offender status. Again, an experienced attorney is your best bet for avoiding these embarrassing consequences and getting the lowest conviction level possible.

The Benefits of Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Hiring a private defender isn’t cheap. But the benefits far outweigh the cost of criminal defense attorneys. We’ve already mentioned how a lawyer can reduce your fines and sentence times or get prior criminal convictions wiped off your record. What you may not know are all the other things an attorney can do for your criminal case.

Negotiate Deals

Attorneys are expert negotiators. They can help fight for lower bail amounts, reduced charges, and fewer days in jail.

Experienced defense lawyers can also negotiate plea deals, which are becoming increasingly common in criminal cases. At the same time, having an attorney who already knows the details of your charge would be an invaluable asset should your case go to trial.

Offer Advice

Attorneys have the skills to understand the prosecutor’s case and know the evidence against you. This means you’ll have a clearer picture of the potential sentencing options and what outcome you can most likely expect.

Your lawyer can further advise you about plea deals and their consequences. If there’s no way out of a conviction, a legal expert can also help you understand how it will impact your criminal record.

Provide Support

The legal system is complicated, time-consuming, and challenging to navigate. And the odds are even more stacked against you when you receive a criminal charge. That’s why you need a legal expert to fight for your rights.

A criminal defense lawyer knows all the stages you’ll have to go through and can give you a reality check about what to expect.

Call the Best Minneapolis Criminal Defense Attorney

A Minneapolis criminal defense attorney works with people like you who’ve been charged or convicted of crimes. Your attorney can help negotiate a deal to prevent your case from going to trial, offer you advice about which deals to take, and so much more.

Were you charged with or convicted of a criminal offense in Minnesota and need legal representation? Call Carlson and Jones today to schedule a consultation with our expert criminal lawyer.

 

Breaking Down a Minnesota Domestic Violence Charge in Brainerd, MN

Domestic assault in Minnesota is such a serious offense because the unique type of violence causes prolonged psychological trauma. Being unjustly charged with domestic violence or domestic assault can also cause trauma. In order to defend yourself, breaking down a Minnesota domestic violence charge can help you understand what to expect.

Domestic Violence Arrest Policy in Minnesota

In terms of arrest policy, Minnesota does not have a statewide mandatory arrest policy in domestic violence situations. Minn. Stat. Ann. Section 629.341 says a peace officer “may arrest [as opposed to shall arrest] a person anywhere without a warrant, including at the person’s residence, if the peace officer has probable cause to believe that within the preceding 24 hours the person has committed domestic abuse.” Individual department policies in counties and municipalities vary.

The news is not all bad. A number of defenses are available in these situations. Many of these defenses are procedural defenses, or legal technicalities. People can often fix some of their mistakes, but police procedure error isn’t one of these things. So, a Brainerd domestic assault lawyer in Minnesota might be able to get the case thrown out of court in these situations. Other defenses, such as a lack of evidence, are available as well.

Defining Domestic Assault in Minnesota

Minnesota law identifies family/household members in various ways. Some of these categories are straightforward and others are rather complex. Breaking down a Minnesota domestic violence charge, the major ones are:

  • Spouses, former spouses, parents, and children,
  • Individuals related by blood,
  • Individuals who currently live together or have cohabitated in the past,
  • Any couple, whether or not they are cohabitating, that has a child in common regardless of their relationship background, and
  • Two people who are significantly involved in a sexual relationship.

That last bullet point might be the most intricate one. A one-night stand probably does not constitute a significant sexual relationship. The living together category is equally subjective. A few weeks, or even a few months, might not be “living together” for domestic violence purposes. A Brainerd domestic assault lawyer can use arguments like these to reduce DV assault charges to standard assault charges.

Spouse on Spouse Violence in Minnesota

All this being said, the vast majority of domestic assault cases in Minnesota are spouse-on-spouse violence. In ye olden days, these alleged victims could assert an evidentiary privilege and refuse to testify against their spouses.

Those days are gone. Now, an alleged victim is basically a witness. As such, an alleged victim cannot “drop” a criminal assault case. Only the state has this power. In fact, prosecutors could subpoena alleged victims and force them to testify against their will. But these instances are rare, except in extreme cases.

Qualified DV Offenses in Minnesota

Breaking down a Minnesota domestic violence charge, the protected classes above are only part of the puzzle. Not every assault crime in Minnesota qualifies as domestic violence. For example, ABC (Assault By Contact) cannot be a domestic violence crime, regardless of the actors’ identities. The laws of Minnesota consider the following infractions to be domestic violence offenses:

  • Violating an OFP (Order for Protection) related to a previous domestic violence incident,
  • Violating an NCO (No Contact Order) which was issued under similar circumstances,
  • A violent crime, including murder, assault, criminal sexual misconduct, or malicious child punishment, of a person in one of the aforementioned protected classes,
  • Making terroristic threats (threatening an entire group of people, like a family),
  • Harassing behavior, violating a harassment restraining order, or stalking, and
  • Interfering with an emergency call (g. unplugging the phone so an alleged victim cannot call 9-1-1).

Domestic Violence in Family Court

A “DV” addition has significant collateral consequences, particularly in family court. Even if the offense involved a different family, a conviction could effectively prevent a person from obtaining favorable custody and visitation orders. A Brainerd domestic assault lawyer can advocate for individuals in these situations, whether they want to enforce a prior conviction or prevent one from being enforced.

Domestic Assault Penalties in Minnesota

Since domestic violence in any form is a serious crime, there are naturally some immediate effects as well. A person convicted for domestic assault may have to face consequences beyond the typical penalties of an assault. Breaking down a Minnesota domestic violence charge, they are as follows:

Misdemeanor or Felony Charges in MN

When a domestic assault is considered a misdemeanor, penalties may include up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. In case of a felony, domestic assault may include one to three years in prison and/or fines of up to $5,000.

These maximum penalties usually apply to first-time offenders. If the offender has one previous domestic violence-related conviction within the last 10 years, which is basically any offense in the list above which involves a person in a protected class, s/he may be charged with a gross misdemeanor.  Furthermore, if the offender has two previous convictions within the last 10 years of a third offense, s/he may be charged with a felony.

For a second-time offense, the maximum misdemeanor penalty increases to one year in jail and/or fines of up to $3,000. The third and subsequent offenses are always felonies. Possible punishment includes a prison term of up to five years and/or fines up to $10,000.

Additionally, any type of domestic or non-domestic assault is a crime of moral turpitude. CMT convictions have significant future employment consequences. Many insurance companies refuse to cover people in positions of trust who have any such crimes on their records. Moreover, a CMT could lead to deportation or other adverse immigration proceedings.

Protective Orders Resulting from Domestic Assault in MN

Protection orders are also associated with penalties of domestic assault. Violating them may result in additional penalties. An individual can request a protection order or no-contact order at any point in time. However, most Crow Wing County judges automatically issue these orders upon a domestic assault arrest or conviction.

These initial ex parte orders, which a judge could also issue based solely on an alleged victim’s affidavit, are good for up to fourteen days. Then, after a full hearing, the court decides if a permanent order is required depending on the severity of the case details. If granted, these orders may be valid for up to two years and can be renewed thereafter. Breaking down a Minnesota domestic violence charge, common prohibitions and requirements in protective orders often include:

  • Committing domestic abuse against a family member, the alleged victim, or the alleged victim’s pets,
  • Being in or near the alleged victim’s house, workplace, and common surrounding areas,
  • Contacting the alleged victim, either directly or through a third party,
  • Paying child and/or spousal support,
  • Surrendering child custody and visitation rights,
  • Giving up custody of shared pets,
  • Providing health insurance for the alleged victim and/or a family member,
  • Paying restitution, and
  • Attending marriage counseling or receiving mental health treatment.

A few additional words about a kick-out order, or an exclusion from a shared residence. In most cases, this relief is unavailable in an ex parte order. However, upon hearing, a judge may order a defendant to vacate a shared residence, even if the defendant is financially responsible for the rent or mortgage.

Contrary to popular myth, a protective order is not just a piece of paper. Law enforcement agencies which are slow to respond to domestic violence calls often respond immediately if the offense is a violation of a court order.

The violation of a protection order is considered a misdemeanor. The penalties for this offense may include a jail term of up to 90 days and fines of up to $1000. Bonds may also be imposed at $10,000 upon the defendant’s arrest. The severity of penalties may increase if the accused violates the protection order within 10 years of being convicted for domestic violence.

If there is a parallel proceeding in family court, some judges hesitate to issue protective orders. There are no statistics on how many alleged victims lie in these proceedings to receive an edge in family court. But these things do happen. If a criminal judge refuses to issue a protective order, the judge presiding over the family law proceeding probably will. A civil protective order is basically the same as a criminal protective order.

Gun Ownership Rights in Minnesota

According to the laws of Minnesota, the person who has been convicted for domestic violence may lose the right to have a gun. If the defendant used a deadly weapon during the domestic assault, the defendant must forfeit that knife, gun, or other object. There are no ifs, ands, or buts.

If the defendant owns any deadly weapon, the judge could take it away, if the circumstances warrant such a move. These take-away orders also eliminate the defendant’s ability to keep and/or bear arms, at least temporarily.

Furthermore, acquiring a gun after losing the right to own one will result in severe penalties that include a jail term of up to one year and fines of up to $3,000.

How a Brainerd Domestic Assault Lawyer Can Help

A domestic assault charge can negatively impact the offender’s professional life, personal reputation, finances, and living conditions. It is best to get help from a domestic assault lawyer to fight these charges. Your lawyer’s main focus is breaking down a Minnesota domestic violence charge. You do not have to simply take your licks, and you don’t have to accept the prosecutor’s first settlement offer.

Analyze the Domestic Violence Charges in MN

Prosecutors are very aggressive in these situations. If the facts could possibly support a domestic violence enhancement, one is almost certainly forthcoming.

However, as outlined above, there are many moving parts in a domestic assault case. An assault which happens in a private residence is not automatically a domestic assault, even if the defendant and alleged victim know each other. There are also a number of possible procedural defenses. We’ll look at them next.

Even if prosecutors wrongfully applied the DV label, it’s not always a good idea to fight this designation. Frequently, in domestic violence court, there is an emphasis on treatment as opposed to punishment. In regular criminal court, the opposite is usually true. So, if the defendant has PTSD or another issue, domestic violence court might be the place to be, even if the case might belong somewhere else.

Nevertheless, since DV assault has some significant additional consequences, like protective orders, Brainerd domestic assault lawyers usually file motions to transfer these cases if at all possible.

Procedural Errors as a Defense in MN

Did you notice that peace officers may arrest domestic assault defendants even without a warrant and even if they didn’t witness the offense? This procedural shortcut is usually unavailable in other cases. As a result, some officers erroneously assume that other procedural shortcuts apply as well. That’s not true.

Failure to properly Mirandize the defendant is a good example. Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the Miranda rights (such as “you have the right to remain silent”). However, most people do not know how early the obligation to Mirandize the defendant kicks in.

Miranda Warnings in Minnesota

Legally, peace officers must administer the Miranda warnings before custodial interrogation begins. Let’s look at these two words in detail.

In this context, “custody” does not mean being placed in handcuffs or a holding cell. Instead, custody usually begins when defendants don’t feel free to leave. Most people don’t feel free to leave as soon as officers knock on their front doors or approach their vehicles. Some people don’t feel free to leave when they see a police car nearby.

Somewhat similarly, “interrogation” is not limited to asking questions about the alleged assault. In fact, it’s not even limited to asking questions. Skilled investigators know how to use very subtle means and extract damaging information from defendants.

That’s why it’s usually important to not say anything and call a Brainerd domestic assault lawyer immediately. If you do these things, officers will almost certainly arrest you. But an arrest was probably inevitable at this point anyway.

Self Defense Against Domestic Violence in MN

This defense is an affirmative defense. Defendants must admit that they assaulted the alleged victim, but that the assault was legally justified. In this case, the justification is the defense of self, the defense of others, or in some cases, the defense of property.

These defenses usually hinge on principles like proportionality of response and reasonable belief of a threat. Once again, let’s break these concepts down.

Proportionality essentially means that the defendant may only use the amount of force necessary to fend off an assault. In other words, if someone pulls a knife, you cannot pull a gun, at least in most cases.

Size matters. If Jason Momoa charged at me with a stick, I might reasonably believe that I need a gun to stop him. In fact, I might reasonably believe that I need a death ray to stop him.

The threat must always be physical. Words, no matter how hurtful or threatening they are, hardly ever justify a violent response, at least in the domestic assault context.

Reasonable belief basically means that the defendant feels threatened. Let’s go back to the me vs. Jason example and switch things around. If I waved a stick at Jason, he probably would not feel threatened. In fact, if I leveled a death ray at him, he might not feel threatened. If there is no credible threat, the self defense doctrine usually does not apply.

Plea Bargain Agreement in Minnesota

Even if there is no defense, prosecutors are usually willing to offer a plea bargain. It’s just that this offer is usually better if a defense could apply. Usually, a plea bargain means a reduced sentence and/or reduced charges. For example, if there are some police procedure questions, prosecutors might reduce felony aggravated assault to simple misdemeanor assault.

We touched on the difference between punishment and treatment above. If the defendant has a substance abuse problem or other issue, treatment for that problem probably produces a better outcome than a few weeks stewing in jail.

It is important to understand that every case is different as they involve several different details. Though a domestic assault lawyer will offer the best representation possible and try to get the charges dropped, the final outcome depends on the severity of the case and the evidence presented to the jury. Based on these aspects, your lawyer will try his/her best for the best result, including a reduced penalty and fines.

Consult a Minnesota Domestic Violence Lawyer at Carlson & Jones

It is necessary that you protect your rights if you have been charged with domestic violence. if you’re interested in breaking down a Minnesota domestic violence charge, seeking legal help can minimize penalties to a great extent. The experienced Brainerd domestic violence lawyers at Carlson & Jones P.A. will plan and present your case facts in the most favorable manner to obtain positive results. Contact us today for a free consultation.

How Long Does Divorce Take in Minnesota?

It’s impossible for anyone to say exactly how long it will take to divorce your spouse without knowing the details of the circumstances. When you’re asking how long does divorce take in Minnesota, know that a wide range of factors can influence the timeline. Your divorce will be unique to you.

Going through a divorce is rarely an easy experience. It’s understandable that the parties involved often want to complete the process as quickly as possible. If you’re a Minnesotan preparing to get a divorce, you may be wondering, how long does divorce take in Minnesota?

This general guide on how long it takes to get a divorce in Minnesota will cover the essentials, helping you get a more realistic sense of how long you should expect the process to last. Just remember, while resolving the situation quickly may seem ideal, you don’t want to make unnecessary sacrifices or concessions in order to speed up your divorce. In the long run, you’ll likely wish you’d spent more time negotiating for a more equitable outcome.

Consider Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Minnesota

This is one of the many reasons it’s important to enlist the help of a qualified and experienced family law and divorce lawyer in Minnesota when you’re getting a divorce. They’ll work hard to ensure that when your divorce is finalized, you’re satisfied.

A Realistic Timeline for a Minnesota Divorce

There are instances when getting a divorce in Minnesota can take as little as four weeks. This occurs when both spouses agree on various issues and work together (typically through their lawyers) to arrive at a mutually satisfying resolution quickly.

However, it’s often the case that spouses divorcing one another disagree on a number of issues. If the disagreements are fairly basic and both parties are willing to make some reasonable concessions, a divorce may take up to six months. That said, there are instances when significant disagreements can cause the divorce process to last years.

This is another reason it’s critical to hire the right Minnesota family lawyer when getting a divorce. Although no attorney can promise to convince your soon-to-be ex to change their mind on issues they may be stubborn about, they can negotiate on your behalf and increase your chances of finalizing the divorce relatively fast.

Factors Affecting How Long it Takes to Get a Divorce in Minnesota

Again, many factors can influence the timeline of a divorce. The following are among the more significant.

Children and Child Custody After Divorce

Divorces often take longer when there are children involved. Parents divorcing from one another tend to disagree over who should have custody of the children.

In some instances, it’s easy to determine which parent should have custody. If one parent has been clearly more involved in raising the kids up until this point or if one parent is unable to provide for them (whether financially, emotionally, or both), determining who should be the primary caregiver won’t be too difficult.

However, it’s often the case that both parents may seem to have strong arguments for why they should have custody. Skilled family law attorneys can help when this happens by carefully assessing all the reasons one parent is better-suited for the role of caregiver.

Finances

Research shows that money issues are among the leading causes of divorce in the US. Unfortunately, finances can also impact the length of the divorce process.

Depending on the details of the circumstances, one spouse may argue they’re entitled to a certain dollar amount or a share of the assets when getting a divorce. They may be unwilling to finalize the divorce until they feel they’ve been granted what they deserve.

Once more, an attorney’s help can be vital when this happens. If they can convince the lawyer of the stubborn spouse that what they’re asking for is unreasonable, the lawyer of the spouse who’s requesting more than they deserve might explain to them that they’re unlikely to get the deal they’re asking for, and should thus accept less in order to finalize the process and save money in the long run.

Disagreement Over the Divorce in Minnesota

Sometimes, one spouse will not wish to get a divorce from the other spouse. They may drag out the process in the vain hope that the spouse who initiated the divorce will change their mind.

This can be a very painful experience for all involved. However, it’s important to protect yourself when this happens. Don’t make the mistake of offering your spouse more than they deserve during negotiations in order to convince them to set aside their emotions and finalize the divorce. This may be tempting, but later, you’ll be unhappy that you came to an “agreement” that’s less-than-ideal for you because you simply wanted to wrap up the process. Your lawyer can advise you when you’re giving up more than you should.

Communication

It’s not uncommon for divorcing spouses to have difficulty communicating and cooperating with one another. This may even be one of the main reasons they’re getting a divorce.

However, sometimes spouses are able to cooperate, despite no longer being able to stay married. If you and your spouse communicate and work together, the divorce process will go much more smoothly and quickly.

Schedules

This may seem like a basic detail, but it’s an important one, as scheduling issues can have a relatively significant impact on how long a divorce may take in Minnesota.

Often, the divorce process involves meetings between spouses and their attorneys, court appearances, and other events that need to be scheduled. If spouses and/or their attorneys are busy, or the court is somewhat backed up, the process can take longer than it might need to.

However, it’s important to understand that it’s possible to limit the number of meetings and court appearances that need to occur if both spouses can agree on various issues. This is often easier with the help of a skilled Minnesota family lawyer.

Getting a Divorce in Minnesota: Need-to-Know Information

Along with understanding how long it takes to get a divorce in Minnesota, there are a few more important points you should be familiar with when divorcing your spouse. They include the following:

Minnesota’s ‘No-Fault’ Divorce Law

To file for a divorce in Minnesota, you have to have resided in the state for at least 180 days. However, exceptions are made when at least one spouse is a member of the armed forces and has kept their Minnesota residency.

Luckily, Minnesota is a “no-fault” divorce state. That means you can get a divorce without needing to demonstrate that your spouse did something “wrong.” Even if your spouse doesn’t want to get a divorce, you can still be granted one.

Additionally, no-fault laws limit the court’s ability to consider various factors when making key decisions. For example, there may be disagreements over custody, but when resolving this issue, the court can’t account for whether one spouse cheated on the other.

Rights During the Divorce Process in Minnesota

Generally, under Minnesota law, both spouses have equal rights during the divorce process. This impacts the degree to which both spouses may access and use assets and property during the divorce.

For example, if you and your spouse have a joint bank account, during the divorce process, both of you can withdraw money from it. If you have a car that’s under both of your names, both of you can drive it until the divorce is finalized. However, if the car is only under your name, your divorce doesn’t have the right to use it, even if you allowed them to do so freely in the past.

The law does not allow either spouse to eliminate property, assets, or money when anticipating a divorce. For instance, perhaps one spouse doesn’t want the other to share any of the funds from a retirement account when the divorce is finalized. Thus, they might cash out the account. Even if they do, though, the court can still require them to share the money.

Important Divorce Terminology

The following are a few key terms worth being familiar with if you’re planning on getting a divorce in Minnesota:

  • Dissolution of marriage: This is the legal term for divorce in Minnesota.
  • Legal separation: A legal separation involves addressing many of the key issues spouses would settle during a typical divorce, such as custody issues and division of assets. However, a legal separation isn’t technically a divorce. Spouses who opt for legal separations instead of divorces often do so for religious purposes.
  • Annulment: An annulment involves a court ruling that two people were never legally married to begin with. For example, a court may grant an annulment if one spouse was unable to consent to a marriage (perhaps due to limited mental abilities) or one of the spouses was too young to get married at the time that they did. That said, it’s important to understand that legal annulments are not the same as religious annulments, which must be granted by religious institutions and which don’t affect legal marriages.

How Long Does Divorce Take in Minnesota? Ask a Minnesota Divorce Lawyer

Yes, getting a divorce is often challenging, and it makes sense that you’d want to see the process through as quickly as possible. Still, you shouldn’t sacrifice more than is necessary simply to finalize a divorce in a few weeks. If you’re wondering how long does a divorce take in Minnesota, you should consider hiring a divorce lawyer in Minnesota to ensure your needs and rights are protected.

Contact a divorce lawyer from Carlson & Jones for a free consultation.

 

Is Forgery a Felony in Buffalo, Minnesota?

Forgery is perhaps one of the oldest criminal activities that has been around for centuries. Contrary to popular belief, forgery is related to more than just artwork. It often involves creating and using fake goods, documents, and money, and presenting them as genuine ones with the intention of deceiving someone. If you’re wondering, Is forgery a felony in Buffalo, Minnesota? Yes, forgery can be a felony, falling under the white-collar crimes’ category.

A Short History of Forgery

Over the years, forgers have laid their eyes on almost everything that is valuable, including artwork, literature, contracts, identification cards, legal certificates, documents, monetary instruments, and historical artifacts. Different states have different laws to protect their residents from crimes involving forgery.

In Buffalo Minnesota, forgery and counterfeiting are treated differently even though they are similar in nature. When is forgery a felony? The state will levy a forgery charge if you create a fake document, but you will be tried under counterfeiting if you are involved in creating fake money or distributing it.

Is Forgery a Felony in Buffalo Minnesota?

The short answer is yes!

In fact, in almost all cases, a forgery charge is a felony-level crime in Buffalo Minnesota. In other words, you will face serious consequences if you are involved in a crime of forgery or counterfeiting. Depending on the crime, you may also face an aggravated forgery charge, requiring you to spend years behind bars. Employing a forgery criminal defense lawyer in Buffalo MN

Levels of Prosecution

Generally, the level of criminal prosecution depends on the amount in controversy. Typically, if the property at issue is worth less than $500, a property crime is a misdemeanor. Forgery is different. Any computer or document forgery is a felony, regardless of the amount in controversy. Additionally, some forgeries are felonies in Minnesota because of aggravating circumstances. More on that below. Furthermore, forgery is a very broad crime. Under Section 609.63, there are seven different ways prosecutors can bring forgery charges. More on that below as well.

Minnesota Prosecution Must Prove Intent for Forgery Charges

However, the state or prosecutor must prove that the forgery was committed with the intention to defraud a person or an entity like a business, or a private or government organization. The purpose of this rule is to protect those who were in possession of fraudulent documents or goods without knowing they are fake.

All forgery matters require the state or prosecutor to prove that the forgery was committed with the intent to defraud a person or an entity like a business, a private individual, or government organization. The purpose of this rule is to protect those who were in possession of fraudulent documents or goods without knowing they are fake.

Types of Forgery in Minnesota

When it comes to forgery and counterfeiting, laws in Buffalo Minnesota are broken down into Forgery and Aggravated Forgery.

Definitions of Forgery in Minnesota

In Buffalo Minnesota, forgery involves using false documents or goods to defraud a person. If you have committed any of the following actions, you are likely to get slapped with a forgery charge:

    • Using a falsified recommendation or identification with intention to defraud someone or something.
    • Destroying a falsified document, goods, artwork, or literature illegally.
    • Using a trade or business label of one entity on another’s merchandise or product is also considered forgery. So, if you buy a printer manufactured by ABC brand and sell it with XYZ brand’s label without their consent, you are likely to be charged with a forgery crime.
    • Creating or knowingly possessing a fake membership or identification card can also land you in hot water.

Common Types of Forgery in MN

Just like there are several different types of forgery offenses, there are several different types of document forgery, including:

  • Simple Forgery: As the name implies, simple forgery is, well, simple. The forger makes no effort to duplicate another person’s signature or handwriting. Many check forgery cases are simple forgery cases. Forged doctors’ notes or other excuses are another example. Sometimes, Buffalo criminal defense lawyers are called upon to handle these cases.
  • Free Hand Simulation: This kind of forgery is a bit harder to detect. Usually, the forger is looking at a signature or handwriting sample when s/he falsifies the instrument. 
  • Tracing: If a forger traces a signature, a person reproduces the most prominent or obvious features of a signature or handwritten text. Frequently, traced signatures and writings match the original signature or text. Since prosecutors must use advanced methods, such as light tables, to detect tracing, these cases often involve multi-million dollar frauds.
  • Electronic Manipulation: Pretty much anyone can Photoshop or otherwise alter a document on a laptop, and the result is fairly realistic. Imagine what professional editors can do with professional editing tools. Electronic manipulation forgery cases usually involve complex, multi-agency investigations.

If you accept documents as a merchant or otherwise, what are some telltale signs of forgery? Here are a few examples:

  • Methodical, slow pen strokes,
  • No pen pressure variation,
  • Unnatural tremors, and
  • Page substitution (e.g. one page has thicker paper or a different typeface than the other pages).

Proof like this usually isn’t enough to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But it could constitute probable cause. That’s enough for officers to obtain a search warrant, question a suspect, or do other things to investigate the matter.

Aggravated Forgery in Minnesota

Aggravated forgery occurs if you alter or falsify an object or document knowingly and with the intention to defraud a person or an entity. It is a felony offense in Buffalo, Minnesota. Passing a bad check is usually forgery. Writing a bad check could be aggravated forgery. The reasons why you will be charged with this felony include, but are not limited to:

  • Documents that render legal rights like official seals, badges, or identifications,
  • Public records and government documents (federal, state, and local),
  • Court records, documents, and orders,
  • Possessing an instrument that you can or have used to create a forged document or artwork or goods,
  • Falsifying bank records of a person or an entity receiving government aid or funding, or
  • Falsifying account records of a public officer or entity.

The court could sentence you to up to ten years of imprisonment or a fine of up to $20,000 or both.

Resolving Forgery Charges in Minnesota

Just like these are several ways to bring forgery charges, there are also several ways to defend them. The best method often depends on the amount of the forgery.

Pretrial Diversion

This resolution is very common in small-scale check forgery cases, meaning the disputed amount is less than $1,000. Typically, banks, merchants, and other such organizations immediately refer these matters to prosecutors. Frequently, the arrest warrant or other document is the first notice that defendants have that something is wrong.

Pretrial diversion programs vary significantly in different counties, and even among different courts in the same county. Typically, however, if the defendant pays restitution and completes some other program requirements, such as attending a self-improvement class and performing community service, prosecutors dismiss the charges.

If a Buffalo criminal defense lawyer keeps a conviction off the defendant’s record, that’s usually the best possible result. Furthermore, pretrial diversion programs are normally risk-free. If the defendant doesn’t successfully complete the program for whatever reason, prosecutors simply pick up where they left off.

A few words about the difference between an arrest and conviction record. Pretrial diversion and deferred adjudication, which is discussed below, take care of the judicial conviction record. If anyone looks, the court records are still available, but the outcome is usually something like DISM (Dismissed) or NFOG (No Finding of Guilt). However, the police record remains in full.

Generally, employers and others only care about conviction records. If they ask about the arrest record, a simple explanation like “I hired a Buffalo criminal defense lawyer, and the lawyer took care of it” usually suffices.

Deferred Adjudication

Prosecutors often don’t offer pretrial diversion in check kiting and other more advanced forgery cases. They reason that writing a rubber check is not malicious. But if the defendant is a kiter, there is evidence that the defendant is trying to game the system.

However, deferred adjudication, which is also known as deferred prosecution or deferred disposition, is usually available. Prosecutors normally offer deferred as an incentive to plead guilty. Most states’ attorneys would like to avoid financial crimes trials if at all possible. These matters are outside their general area of expertise and often require outside expert witnesses.

In many ways, deferred adjudication is like regular probation. Generally, the same terms and conditions apply. However, if the defendant successfully completes deferred adjudication probation, the judge dismisses the case.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that, if the defendant doesn’t successfully complete probation, the judge could sentence the defendant to anything up to the maximum allowed by law.

Since deferred adjudication is a high risk/high reward alternative, your Buffalo criminal defense attorney should thoroughly review your case before you plead.

Trial Defenses

In very large cases, prosecutors often don’t offer favorable plea bargain deals. If police officers invest substantial resources in an investigation, they usually want the defendant to receive the harshest possible punishment.

Procedural defenses are sometimes available. As mentioned, large, multi-agency investigations usually involve search warrants. These warrants must be based on probably cause. Frequently, the “probable cause” in these warrants is little more than the uncorroborated testimony of a paid informant. Unless the informant has a solid track record of providing accurate information, these warrants usually don’t hold up in court.

A combination of delay and a restitution payment agreement is often an effective defense as well. No one likes to delay criminal trials. But delay usually hurts the party with the burden of proof, which is the state. Sometimes, witness memories fade so much that they have no independent recollection of the event. In that case, they might be incompetent to testify in court. 

Furthermore, many organizations lose interest in the case if the defendant voluntarily pays restitution. Buffalo criminal defense attorneys must tread carefully in these situations, or the state could accuse the defendant of bribing a witness.

Penalties for Forgery in MN

If found guilty, you will be charged with a fine of up to $5000 or a prison sentence of to up to three years or both. However, in certain circumstances, the court may increase your sentence.

For example, if the forged good or document was presented as evidence in a trial or a court proceeding, you could end up with a fine of up to $10000 or the court may sentence you to up to five years in prison or both.

Check Fraud Penalties in MN

Although forgery is common, the layman is rarely involved in art theft. One of the most common forgery crimes is check fraud, which involves using checks to withdraw funds illegally from someone’s bank account. Writing forged or worthless or fraud checks is a criminal offense in Buffalo Minnesota.

Writing a bad check involves writing a check for the amount that exceeds the available clearing balance in your bank account. Writing another check from a different bank account to falsely inflate the balance to clear the first check results in check kiting offense.

Check washing, which involves stealing a check in transit and then forging it to withdraw money is also a punishable white-collar offense with serious legal consequences.

Check forgery involves changing the name of the borrower on a genuine check, creating counterfeit checks, and forging the signature of an account holder. Just like any other forgery charge, you can face a fine and even a prison sentence for a check fraud.

Work With a Forgery Criminal Defense Attorney in Buffalo MN

Unfortunately, most check forgeries are made in distressful financial situations. So, facing a criminal charge on the top of that can put you and your loved ones in real bad shape. That’s why it is essential that you talk to a forgery defense attorney immediately.

There are many ways to recover from a forgery charge like check fraud. For example, if the state or prosecutor fails to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew the check would be dishonored, you may be able to recover from the charges.

Another way to reduce the penalties is to prove that you didn’t know it was a forged check. However, you will need a good forgery defense lawyer on your side, who can look for potential legal options as soon as possible.

Depending on the circumstances of your case such as the amount of forgery and the evidence, an experienced felony forgery attorney can help you get a fair settlement or even get the charges dropped.

Both forgery and aggravated forgery are felony-level offenses in Buffalo, Minnesota. So, whether you are dealing with a check forgery charge or the legal consequences for forging a power of attorney document, you are likely to face a sizable fine or even a prison sentence. 

Our Felony Criminal Defense Lawyer in Buffalo Minnesota Can Fight Fraud Charges

If you’re asking is forgery a felony in Buffalo Minnesota, you may need to consider reliable legal assistance. An experienced Buffalo criminal defense attorney can help. Contact us at Carlson & Jones at (855) 215-6862 or contact us online!

 

This blog was originally published on July 4, 2020 and updated on July 6, 2021.

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