What is Self Defense in Criminal Law in Brainerd, MN

In Minnesota, the use of self-defense usually becomes necessary to protect yourself from another person who is threatening assault.

This also applies when someone is intent on physically harming an individual in some manner, such as in a home break-in. An individual can use self-defense techniques to not only protect their body, but also stop the imminent attack.

As experienced Criminal Defense lawyers in Brainerd, MN, we will help you learn more about what self-defense is and isn’t.

What Is Self-Defense in Brainerd, Minnesota?

Typically, a person will have to defend themselves against physical harm through the use of force to ensure the safety of their own body or that of a loved one’s. In situations like these, self-defense takes place when such force is used against the attacker/perpetrator of violence.

In short, the need for self-defense arises when another person tries to cause bodily harm. While the circumstances may not warrant lethal force, the act of self-defense can lead to death if there is no other way to defend against potential severe harm or death. If death does take place, the self-defending individual may have to legally defend their actions.

Proving Self-Defense in Brainerd, Minnesota

Self-defense is among the most commonly used defenses in cases related to assault, battery, and some other violent crimes.

In order to prove self-defense in the state of Minnesota, the accused must prove:

  • The alleged victim was the attacker  
  • The accused believed a real or perceived fear of physical harm was upon them
  • The accused’s belief was reasonable
  • The accused did not provoke the attack or display aggression
  • There was no reasonable opportunity to escape the attack by the alleged victim

It is important to remember that self-defense claims come with certain limitations. The use of force, even if it is for self-defense, should be acknowledged as reasonable by the judge/jury. Moreover, an individual can use only that amount of force which is necessary to deter the attack or protect themselves. Hence, the amount of force used must be in accordance with the threat of harm.

Use of Reasonable Force

In Minnesota, an individual facing potential assault or physical danger has four elements that enable them to exercise their right of self-defense. These are:

i.  The aggressive behavior of the other person

ii. The belief of imminent danger or physical harm

iii. Grounds for this belief

iv. Possibility that the danger is avoidable

The threatened individual can use varying degrees of self-defense against their attacker. If escaping the attacker is possible, the individual can avoid the use of self-defense altogether. In fact, this may prove to be the best course of action to avoid legal repercussions.

Mentioned ahead are the situations when an individual may use reasonable force:

  • Resisting or helping another person fight an offense against the person
  • Preventing an intrusion or other illegal interference with property
  • Foiling the escape of a person held by law on a charge or conviction of a crime
  •  A parent/guardian/teacher exercising necessary authority over a child/student
  •  A common carrier against a passenger who does not comply with lawful requirements for proper conduct
  • Restraining a person with mental illness or developmental issues from self-harm or causing injury to others

Duty to Retreat

In Minnesota, the law imposes a duty to retreat before an individual can use self-defense outside of their own house.

According to this law, if an individual is facing a threat of bodily harm or physical injury, they should first try to retreat to a safe location. Retreat refers to any attempt to scale back or avoid a hostile altercation. If retreating is not a possibility or is unsafe, they may use force or act in self-defense.

Further, Minnesota law allows a person to use lethal force outside the home only when there is absolutely no other alternative or no reasonable opportunity to retreat or when they believe that they are in imminent danger of serious physical harm.

An individual who uses lethal force in self-defense may face criminal charges, including murder, if they had an opportunity to retreat.

Self-Defense during Domestic Assault

In cases where domestic assault is involved, an individual may need to defend themselves from their aggressor. When the aggressor lives in the home, stopping the violence before it becomes life-threatening is crucial.

The victim of domestic assault may be able to protect themselves and/or their loved ones from the aggressor. If using lethal force becomes unavoidable, the victim should contact an experienced Criminal Defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN and discuss their circumstances/facts to build a case, should they be charged with committing a crime by law authorities.

Self-Defense Is Not Criminal Defense

Minnesota laws allow people to defend themselves against imminent threats of assault or grave physical danger. However, anyone using self-defense needs to meet certain conditions to prove that force was used to protect themselves or defend another rather than to harm the aggressor.

If criminal charges are levied against the individual, he or she will have to prove that the situation involved self-defense through sufficient evidence.

Self-defense situations also require certain actions to be taken, depending on the way the incident took place. For instance, if the individual is not in their home, they need to try and retreat rather than retaliate with force. If the individual did not retreat but responded with an attack, they may have to face a potential conviction.

To defend these charges, you will have to explain what transpired and may need the assistance of an experienced Criminal Defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN. Your attorney will know exactly how to present your case and the arguments as well as evidence to support your claim.

Conclusion

More often than not, when an aggressor threatens assault or severe physical harm, an individual can use self-defense to protect themselves from being attacked. Sometimes, self-defense may be used to protect another person or a loved one. The individual can tackle the aggressor and keep others safe depending on the situation. If self-defense goes wrong, it can lead to criminal charges and conviction. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is best to consult an experienced Criminal Defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN to find the most suitable defenses and receive justice. 

Consult Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers in Brainerd, MN Today

Understanding what self-defense is and how it can land you in legal trouble is more complex than you think. Several factors and limitations come into play. If you have a case and need legal advice with it, call the qualified criminal defense attorneys at Carlson & Jones, P.A. on (855) 976-2444. You can also contact us online through our website. We will get back to you at the earliest.

 

What Does A Criminal Defense Lawyer Do in Brainerd, MN

In Minnesota, crimes vary from misdemeanors to felonies, and so do the punishments they carry. While for some misdemeanors and first-time offenses, you may get away with fines and/or community service, a significant crime can land you in prison. As a result, you need to represent yourself in the best possible manner in front of the judge and jury.

That’s where a professional criminal defense attorney comes in.

With the help of a seasoned lawyer, you can navigate the complicated and confusing US criminal law system easily. They can help identify, organize, and present facts related to your case that may end up reducing your punishment or even getting you acquitted.

Here’s what an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN can do for you.

1. Help You Understand Criminal Law

As mentioned, criminal law in US (state and federal) is vast and complicated, which can be confusing for most commoners. Criminal attorneys not only have the educational qualifications to understand the law, but also have first-hand experience in dealing with every aspect of it in court.

As they know the law thoroughly, a criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the legal aspects of your case. They can also help you know which loopholes in the law can help you get the most desirable outcome, depending on the circumstances of your case.

They also know about the local laws, court procedures, police, prosecutors, and judges. This information can help reduce the nuisance involved in dealing with a criminal charge.

2. Investigate Your Case Further

Your criminal defense lawyers will investigate your case further to see if they can unearth useful facts. The lawyer will talk to the police officers handling your case, eyewitnesses (if they are involved), and anyone else related to your case.

Your lawyer may also talk to the witnesses to crosscheck the facts mentioned in their testimony. If the investigators appointed by your lawyer find any loopholes in the testimonies presented by the witnesses, your case may not even go to trial.

Moreover, your lawyer will review the legal processes to see if they can find any inconsistencies that can help thwart the charges against you. For example, if you were arrested without a probable cause, the charges against you may get dropped. However, only the best criminal defense attorney can understand how probable cause is defined in your jurisdiction and whether there are any loopholes in your case.

3. Double-Checking the Evidence

When investigating your case, your criminal attorney will also double-check the evidence being presented against you. Most lawyers will not only study the facts and theories related to your case’s evidence, they may also rope in expert witnesses to offer a different point of view than the prosecution.

Your experienced criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN, may also hire a private detective to find any useful facts. However, these actions will be taken based on how serious your criminal offense is. For example, a simple DUI may not require independent evidence analysis, but an aggravated assault charge certainly will.

4. Negotiate to Get You a Better Deal

Most criminal cases, especially the ones involving minor offense, are less likely to go to trial. Usually, the prosecution will try to negotiate a deal with the defendant. However, the plea bargain will not be in your favor unless your lawyer is involved.

In other words, even if you want to go for a plea bargain, having a criminal defense lawyer on your side is a good idea. As the lawyer knows the state and the local law and premises of your case, they can help bring down the punishment by a great extent.

5. Defend Your Case If It Goes to Trial

If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will prepare your defense and represent you in the court. You and your attorney can work together to come up with the best defense strategy after evaluating the facts related to your case.

Usually, during a trial, your experienced criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN, will fill out your paperwork, introduce any new evidence on your behalf, submit court applications and requests, and take care of case-related paperwork.

Other important responsibilities include interviewing witnesses, taking their cross on the stand, making opening and closing statements, and jury selection. As the lawyer understands the intricacies involved in a criminal trial, self-representation may not be the best way to defend yourself. 

Conclusion

When it comes to fighting a criminal charge in Minnesota, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN on your side can help you turn the outcome of your case in your favor. But most importantly, your lawyer will make you feel confident enough to not give up. Hopefully, reading about these five benefits will encourage you to take the right step.

Call Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Brainerd, MN

Fighting a criminal charge is easier said than done. However, calling an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN, like Carlson & Sons is the first step towards getting the best possible outcome in your case. Call us on (855) 976-2444 for a free consultation or contact us online to see how we can help.

 

How to Find the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Minnesota

Whether it is a minor criminal offense or a major one, you will need to hire a competent criminal defense attorney to ensure your voice is heard clearly in the courtroom. However, finding the most suitable and experienced criminal defense lawyer is easier said than done.

According to Statista, in 2020, there were 1.33 million lawyers in the U.S. Although not all of them are criminal defense lawyers in Minnesota, you will still need to scan through dozens of prospects to find a suitable one.

So, how do you go about finding the right criminal defense attorney?

Don’t worry!

The following four tips will help you find the best criminal defense lawyer in Minnesota.

1. Get a Lawyer Specializing in Criminal Law

Most people end up hiring the first defense lawyer they find. It usually is someone who has helped them in a totally different legal matter. However, this is a huge mistake.

Just like you would see a diabetologist if you or your loved one is suffering from diabetes, you need to hire a specialist criminal defense lawyer. For example, an attorney specializing in assault charges will have in-depth knowledge of the assault law in Minnesota. In other words, a DUI lawyer will not be able to defend your case as effectively as an assault lawyer.

So, make sure to consult a criminal defense lawyer, not your family lawyer. You can, of course, ask your family lawyer to recommend a criminal defense attorney. If the recommendation doesn’t strike you as the right one, you can look elsewhere for a good defense lawyer.

2. Look for a Local Attorney

A local criminal defense lawyer in Minnesota is your best chance to get the right legal advice. A local lawyer is often aware of the way local prosecutors, police officers, court clerks, and judges work, which will most likely affect the outcome of your case.

For example, whereas a lenient judge will sentence community service for a first-time traffic rule violation, a strict judge is likely to go for more severe punishment. As the local lawyer is aware of such tendencies, they can help minimize the legal consequences of your case.

Moreover, you or your family members can effortlessly get in touch with a local attorney. You can also drop by for an in-person meeting as often as required.

3. Check out the Lawyer Thoroughly

In this digital era, most attorneys have a website, social media accounts, and presence on online marketplaces like Avvo. When looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Minnesota, you should check out their online presence thoroughly.

Most successful and experienced attorneys have a professional-looking website and decent online presence. Their website and social media profiles will have client reviews, professional achievements, and awards. Go through all this information to find out as much about your lawyer as you can.

This research will come in handy during your initial free consultation, which is a common practice in the legal industry. To make sure the customer reviews are genuine, you can ask for referrals. You can ask your friends, colleagues, and family members about the attorney in question.

You can also contact the Minnesota State Bar to find out if the lawyer has faced any disciplinary action in the past. You don’t want to end up hiring a lawyer who is late for court hearings or lacks communication etiquette.

Lastly, make sure to check out their team. Most lawyers will have a team of junior lawyers and paralegals, who are most likely to work on your case. The team members need to be as competent as their lead attorney. So, make sure to check out your lawyer thoroughly before making any decisions.

4. Go through the Fee Structure

Another crucial factor you must look for is the fee structure and its transparency. It is a common belief that the most experienced lawyer is the most expensive one. While it may be true in some cases, there can be exceptions.

Apart from experience, the amount of fee a lawyer charges will also depend on the type of criminal offense. The bottom line is, you should look for a lawyer who honestly discusses the fee structure.

Usually, a criminal defense lawyer in Minnesota will charge you a flat fee or on an hourly basis. In routine criminal cases, a flat fee is often a better choice as you have to pay the lump sum once instead of paying an hourly rate.

However, some lawyers will charge you on an hourly basis. This fee structure also involves paying a retainer. A retainer is an amount you have to pay upfront against which the lawyer will work. For example, for a $3000 retainer at a $300/hour rate, the lawyer will work for 10 hours on your case.

Conclusion

When you are facing criminal charges, your future is at stake. Getting the right legal help will ensure the best possible outcome in your case. That’s why you have to take your time and do thorough research to find the best criminal defense lawyer in Minnesota. These four tips should prove helpful in this regard. Good luck!

Call the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Minnesota Today!

If you or your loved one is facing criminal charges in Minnesota, we can help. As one of the best criminal defense lawyers in Minnesota, we will leave no stone unturned to get the best possible outcome for your case. When you hire Carlson & Jones, P.A., you are investing in safeguarding your or your loved one’s future. Call us at (855) 976-2444 or contact us online to know how we can help.

How Much Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost in Buffalo,MN?

Have you noticed that when you need something, the price usually goes up? When COVID-19 hit, face mask prices increased 500 percent in some areas. So, many people expect to pay lots of money for a lawyer if they are accused of a crime.

Fortunately, that’s not the way it works in this area. Legal ethics require attorneys to set fixed fees for certain services. Experience level is usually the biggest factor. So, as an attorney gains experience over the years, the attorney can charge more money. But lawyers cannot double or triple their fees because you had a brush with the law.

Nevertheless, retaining the services of a good Buffalo criminal lawyer is a significant investment. Before you transmit your credit card information, there are a number of things to consider. Always remember that you have choices in this area. Your criminal case is a very serious matter, but it is not a matter of imminent life and death. People usually have a few days to make a decision.

Free Lawyers in Buffalo, MN

In a significant number of cases, the cost of a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer is nothing, or at least practically nothing. The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel in criminal cases. Furthermore, the Supreme Court recently ruled that this right means the counsel of your choice.

Exact procedure varies in different counties, and in different courts in the same county. However, the free lawyer choices are always the same: a public defender or a court-appointed lawyer.

There is some truth to the image of the overworked public defender. But truthfully, if a Buffalo criminal lawyer is not busy, there is always a reason, and it’s usually not a good reason. Additionally, many court-appointed attorneys and public defenders must meet higher professional standards than a lawyer you happen to find on Google.

However, there are some serious drawbacks. Many judges only appoint lawyers for incarcerated defendants. They reason, perhaps wrongly, that if you can afford bail, you can afford a lawyer. Additionally, individuals have no say in this process. The judge assigns counsel, sometimes at random and sometimes according to a preset formula. If you do not like your lawyer for some reason, there is generally nothing you can do.

Incidentally, you can represent yourself in a court case, including a criminal case. As a rule of thumb, if the criminal case includes possible jail time, self-representation is one of the biggest mistakes a person can make.

Expensive Buffalo Criminal Lawyers

The old adage you get what you pay for is not always true. On the low end, an inexpensive Buffalo criminal lawyer is most likely inexperienced or not very diligent. The aforementioned public interest lawyers do not count. The state pays these attorneys a competitive rate.

However, a high-priced lawyer is not necessarily better than a mid-priced lawyer. Typically, clients of high-priced lawyers pay for extras, like a large office, a famous name, or a large staff. Effective criminal defense usually does not require these things.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay?

First, a few words about fee structure. Informed consumers usually make the best choices. Some attorneys require retainers and bills by the hour. When the retainer account falls below a certain level, the client must add more money. Hourly billing is especially common in civil cases.

Most criminal attorneys charge stairstep fees, such as X for a negotiated settlement, X+Y for a bench trial, and X+Y+Z for a jury trial. Most Buffalo criminal lawyers also charge more for felonies than misdemeanors. Felonies are more complex, and there is more at stake.

Next, let’s look at how most attorneys set their fees. As mentioned, the Minnesota State Bar allows lawyers to set fees based on a number of factors. Two of the big ones are:

  • Experience: Look beyond years of experience. To many lawyers, criminal law is a sideline. These lawyers should be avoided, as should one-trick pony attorneys who only practice criminal law. You want someone in the middle.
  • Time Commitment: A murder trial or similar complex felony might require several months of full-time work. Since the lawyer cannot work on anything else during this period, the legal fee could be substantial. Also, the reason some lawyers charge less to handle plea bargains is that such matters are less time-consuming.

Other factors include the prevailing market rate for similar services, the novelty of the legal questions involved, and the client’s ability to pay.

Conclusion

Hiring an attorney involves smart thinking. Being charged with a crime can have life-changing consequences for the defendant and not in a good way. A conviction can ruin your life, and must be avoided as far as possible. In such cases, the services of an attorney who is experienced in dealing with such legal matters and getting favorable outcomes can make all the difference. Hence, it makes sense to have the best attorney on your side. Consider it as an investment you make towards a secure future. Hopefully, this post has helped you understand the importance of choosing an ethical and experienced criminal defense lawyer who adheres to a set fee structure to aggressively protect your interests.

Contact an Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney in Buffalo

If you or your loved one has been arrested, you should act as quickly as possible because evidence and case facts need to be gathered without any delay. Our Buffalo criminal defense lawyers can begin working on your case as soon as you contact us, so you can look forward to positive outcomes and even avoid a potential conviction. Legal representation in a criminal case might be the most important investment you ever make. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo criminal lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. at (855) 976-2444. Convenient payment plans are available.

A Brainerd, MN DWI Lawyer Looks at Some Possible Defenses

Alcohol-involved wrecks usually have both civil and criminal consequences for Minnesota drivers. In civil court, victims must only establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence. That’s the lowest standard of proof in Minnesota. But in criminal court, prosecutors must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s the highest standard of proof in Minnesota.

Essentially, the state’s evidence must be so overwhelming that it not only overcomes the presumption of innocence. The proof must also firmly convince jurors that the defendant is guilty. Maybe or probably guilty is not good enough.

Because the burden of proof is so high, a Brainerd, MN DWI lawyer has several options in terms of a successful defense. The result of this approach could be a complete dismissal of charges, a not-guilty verdict at trial, or a plea to a lesser included offense.

Procedural Issues

Most DWI arrests begin with traffic stops. Typically, officers can pull over motorists based on little more than a hunch. In a 2015 Iowa case, a federal judge ruled that officers could pull over a motorist for traveling 1mph over the speed limit, even though the speeding stop was just a pretext and the officers knew the charges would not hold up in court.

Sometimes, however, even this tiny bit of proof is unavailable in a DWI case. Informer tips are a good example. Frequently, these tips are so vague (blue sedan eastbound on Highway 210) that they have no value in court whatsoever.

If the stop was illegal, then the arrest was illegal as well, under the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine. It does not matter if the driver was passed-out drunk behind the wheel.

Minnesota law enforcement officers also periodically set up DWI checkpoints. These roadblocks often appear around the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, and other holidays associated with drinking and driving. 

Officers do not need evidence of wrongdoing to pull over motorists at checkpoints. However, these roadblocks must meet rigid requirements. If they fall short, a Brainerd, MN DWI lawyer can invalidate the checkpoint and therefore invalidate the arrest.

Brainerd, MN DWI Lawyers and Intoxication Defenses

After they are pulled over, about 80 percent of defendants provide a chemical breath or blood sample. If the sample shows the defendant’s BAC was above the legal limit, the defendant is guilty as a matter of law.

Chemical tests are not always accurate. For example, if a defendant burped, vomited, or belched in the fifteen minutes prior to a Breathalyzer test, alcohol particles from the stomach gush into the mouth. As a result, the Brethalyzer’s BAC estimate might be artificially high.

Furthermore, chemical tests are not always admissible. If the Breathalyzer had not been calibrated properly or recently, any results might be legally inadmissible.

In the remaining 20 percent of DWI cases, prosecutors must use circumstantial evidence to prove intoxication. Such evidence usually comes from the four approved field sobriety tests, which are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The DWI eye test determines if the defendant has nystagmus, a condition also known as lazy eye. Intoxication is only one cause of nystagmus, and it is not even the leading cause.
  • Portable Breathalyzer: Some of the Breathalyzer’s flaws were discussed above. Portable Breathalyzers are even more inaccurate than the larger ones used at police stations.
  • One-Leg Stand: People with any mobility impairment at all usually cannot stand on one leg for more than a few seconds, whether they are drunk or sober.
  • Walk and Turn: Environmental factors often affect these test results. For example, it is much more difficult to walk an imaginary line heel-to-toe than it is to walk an actual line, like a parking lot stripe, in this fashion.

Some officers administer additional unapproved tests, like Romberg’s balance test (head back, eyes closed, and arms extended test). These results are usually only admissible for limited purposes.

Non-Intoxication Defenses

Frequently, the “intoxication” element is the only real issue in a DWI case. But in many situations, a Brainerd, MN DWI lawyer can challenge the “driving” element as well.

According to the Minnesota DWI law, “driving” is more like “operating.” The vehicle need not be moving. If the defendant is behind the wheel and the vehicle is drivable, DWI charges will probably hold up in court, at least with regard to “driving.” Sometimes, however, the defendant does not have the keys, the car is out of gas, or there are other extenuating circumstances.

DWI collisions are another example. Generally, by the time emergency responders arrive, the defendant has left the vehicle. Unless a witness places the defendant behind the wheel at or near the time of the crash, there may be insufficient evidence on this point.

Other non-intoxication defenses include the public/private place issue. Driving while intoxicated is only illegal if the defendant was in a public place. Shopping center, apartment complex, and some housing development parking lots are not public places, even if they are open to the public. A private driveway is not a public place either. The street directly in front of a private residence is in a grey area.

Connect with a Dedicated Attorney

There is a big difference between a DWI arrest and a DWI conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN DWI lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. The sooner you call us, the sooner we start fighting for you.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer in Brainerd, MN Talks About the Different Burdens of Proof

Some people might remember the O.J. Simpson murder saga in the early and mid-1990s. In 1995, after a long and sensational criminal trial, a jury acquitted the former football star of double murder charges. About a year later, another jury heard basically the same evidence and concluded that Simpson was responsible for the deaths. That’s perhaps the best example of the different burdens of proof in court cases, as outlined below.

Apropos of nothing, in 2016, NFL “concussion doctor” Bennet Omalu said he would “bet my medical license” that Simpson had a serious brain injury. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain injury commonly associated with football players, would explain Simpson’s erratic behavior and fits of rage, according to Dr. Omalu. But that’s the subject of another blog.

The different burdens of proof affect the way a criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN approaches different cases. Since the defendant is presumed innocent in the United States, the burden of proof is on the state. So, if an attorney casts doubt on the state’s case, the defendant often goes free. Alternatively, weak evidence gives a criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN an edge during settlement negotiations.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Minnesota law usually defines a reasonable doubt as a doubt based on reason and common sense. Many courts have criticized this definition, arguing that it is akin to saying “a white horse is a horse that is white.” Nevertheless, that’s the generally accepted definition in The Gopher State. Some variations, such as reasonable doubt “does not mean a fanciful or capricious doubt, nor does it mean beyond all possibility of doubt,” are acceptable.

DWI-collision cases are a good illustration of the way this standard works in practice. Assume Ben and Jerry hit another car in an intersection. Ben and Jerry are both intoxicated. By the time emergency responders arrive, they have exited the vehicle. Officers arrest Ben for DWI.

Wright County prosecutors could probably prove Ben was in the car, but it would be difficult for them to prove Ben behind the wheel. Another witness, such as the other driver in the collision, would have to testify that Ben emerged from the driver’s side. That testimony would not prove he was driving beyond a shadow of a doubt, but it would establish that fact beyond a reasonable doubt.

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Brainerd, MN and Clear and Convincing Evidence

Child custody, financial fraud, and certain juvenile cases commonly employ this standard of evidence. C&C basically means “the evidence is highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue.”

Let’s return to the previous example and change the facts a bit. Now assume that Jerry told officers Ben was driving the car. There are a number of reasons to question Jerry’s statement. He was drunk, so his memory and perception are questionable. Additionally, he might have been tattling so officers would arrest Ben instead of Jerry.

So, if the standard was beyond a reasonable doubt, Jerry’s statement might not be enough to convict Ben. But if the standard was clear and convincing evidence, which is a step lower, Jerry’s statement might hold up in court.

Preponderance of the Evidence

Typically, this final standard determines what an individual must prove, as opposed to what the state must prove. A preponderance of the proof (more likely than not) is the standard in most personal injury cases. It’s the standard the Simpson civil jury used.

Picture two stacks of typing paper sitting side by side. Both stacks have the same number of sheets. If a criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN adds one sheet of paper to the stack on the left, it has more paper than the stack on the right. That’s a picture of a preponderance of the evidence.

Once more, let’s look at our DWI-collision example. Now assume the car is abandoned by the time emergency responders arrive. An investigation reveals that Ben owned the car. It’s more likely than not that a car’s owner was driving the vehicle at any given time, unless the owner had an airtight alibi. So, by a preponderance of the evidence, Ben was probably driving the car. Proving intoxication, however, would be a much more difficult matter.

Reach Out to Savvy Lawyers

The burden of proof affects the way attorneys approach different cases. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Brainerd, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

How Does a Buffalo, MN Lawyer Uphold the Presumption of Innocence in All Three Phases of a Criminal Case?

The presumption of innocence is usually associated with the seventh century Roman Emperor Justinian. But the concept of ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof lies upon him who affirms, not he who denies) might go back even further than that in Roman law. Jewish and Islamic religious scholars talked about this idea as well.

Today, this concept is a cornerstone of common law systems in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and a few other places. But in most parts of the world, it is almost unheard of.

Wright County prosecutors have almost unlimited resources, and they bring these resources to bear in the most serious felony and the least serious misdemeanor. The presumption of innocence is the only way a Buffalo, MN lawyer can level the playing field. So, as soon as the attorney/client partnership begins, the fight to uphold this critical concept begins as well.

Jail Release

Upholding the presumption of innocence begins at this point. If the defendant remains in jail, the presumption of innocence essentially becomes a presumption of guilt. Incarcerated defendants cannot participate in their own defense in any meaningful way. Additionally, defendants who are behind bars often accept help from a public defender instead of a top Buffalo, MN lawyer.

Typically, the Wright County sheriff sets presumptive bail amounts according to the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal record. People charged with felonies must pay more than people charged with misdemeanors. And, even if the prior conviction was completely unrelated, it usually drives up the bail amount.

Research suggests the opposite is true. People charged with serious offenses are more likely to face the music than people charged with petty offenses. Furthermore, if the defendant has been through the system before, the defendant is not as scared.

A Buffalo, MN lawyer can bring up these points during a bail reduction hearing. This hearing usually occurs within seventy-two hours of an arrest. When the case comes up, the judge considers a wide range of factors, including:

  • Amount of evidence the state has,
  • Defendant’s contacts with the community,
  • Risk of flight, if any, and
  • Defendant’s ability to pay.

Frequently, Buffalo, MN lawyers make deals with prosecutors to secure the defendant’s release. These deals usually involve some give-and-take. For example, the state might agree to reduce the bail amount if the defendant wears an ankle bracelet.

Attorneys often work out these same kinds of arrangements to resolve criminal cases. More on that below.

Lawyers in Buffalo, MN and Pretrial Matters

The police might gather evidence against the defendant, but that does not mean prosecutors can use this proof in court. If a Buffalo, MN lawyer reduces the amount of available evidence, it’s much easier to successfully resolve the charges.

Pretrial proceedings often focus on procedural matters. A police error early in the process has a significant impact on the trial. Some examples include:

  • Failure to Mirandize: When custodial interrogation begins, officers must give defendants their Miranda rights (you have the right to remain silent, etc.). Otherwise, any statements the defendant makes are inadmissible. Custodial interrogation starts when officers ask any questions and the defendant does not feel free to leave.
  • Search Warrant Issues: Possession cases always involve either search warrants or search warrant exceptions. Unless officers had a valid warrant or a narrow search warrant exception applied, any guns, drugs, or other contraband officers seized is probably inadmissible.
  • Lineup Issues: Criminology professionals recommend double-blind lineups. Neither the witness nor the administering officer should know the suspect’s identity. But Minnesota only requires blind lineups. Arguably, these identifications are inherently unreliable.

Buffalo, MN lawyers also do their own evidence collection. Technically, prosecutors are legally required to turn over exculpatory evidence. But they short-circuit this requirement whenever possible.

Resolving a Criminal Case

As discussed above, plea bargains resolve about 95 percent of the criminal cases in Wright County. Mostly because of the presumption of innocence, these plea bargains usually involve reduced charges and/or a reduced sentence.

Aggravated assault, which is one of the most common felonies in Minnesota, is a good example. If the evidence is weak, prosecutors often agree to reduce these charges to ordinary assault, which is a misdemeanor. Additionally, instead of lengthy incarceration, many defendants are sentenced to a brief period of probation.

If the case goes to trial, prosecutors must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt, which brings us back to the presumption of innocence. So, in the aggravated assault example, unless there is overwhelming evidence that the defendant assaulted the victim and also caused a serious injury, the jury must acquit the defendant.

Connect with an Assertive Attorney

The presumption of innocence alone is enough to acquit a defendant in Minnesota. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and jail visits are available.

Should a Brainerd, MN Criminal Defense Lawyer Represent Me at the DWI ALR Hearing?

Few other offenses have more indirect consequences than DWIs. One such collateral consequence is the Administrative License Revocation process. If the defendant’s BAC level was above the legal limit at the time of arrest, the state automatically suspends the person’s drivers’ license. The same thing happens if the defendant refuses to provide a chemical sample.

However, because of the Fourteenth Amendment, states like Minnesota usually cannot “automatically” do anything. The Fourteenth Amendment requires due process of law, and at a minimum, that means notice and an opportunity to be heard.

This right is an important one, but like so many other rights, it is just ink on paper unless a Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer enforces it. ALR hearings are difficult, but certainly not impossible, to win. And, there is more than one way to “win” one of these hearings. Keep reading to learn more about these things.

Possible Defenses

ALR hearings are difficult to win because the administrative law judge is normally a paid DMV employee. Additionally, the ALJ serves as prosecutor, judge, and jury. Finally, this proceeding is not technically a criminal proceeding. So, many of the normal Constitutional protections do not apply. For example, the ALJ may force defendants to testify against themselves.

Moreover, the burden of proof is rather low in ALR hearings. The state must only establish that officers had probable cause to demand a sample and the defendant either failed the test or refused to take it. “Probable cause” basically means officers believed that a crime had been committed.

This standard might be low, but it is higher than a reasonable suspicion, which is basically an evidence-based hunch. So, unless the state presents substantial proof, a Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer can challenge the lack of evidence.

The Field Sobriety Tests are a good illustration. Normally, officers depend on these four tests to establish probable cause in a DWI. These tests are:

  • Horizonta Gaze Nystagmus (DWI eye test),
  • Walk and Turn,
  • One Leg Stand, and
  • Portable Breathalyzer.

Some officers administer unapproved field sobriety tests, like Romberg’s balance test (head back, eyes closed, arms extended test). But these controversial test results might not be admissible in the ALR hearing.

Frequently, defendants refuse to perform any of these tests. Or, they perform one or two and then refuse to go on. Either way, there might not be enough evidence to establish probable cause.

There is a preliminary matter as well. Generally, officers pull over DWI defendants because they saw them commit traffic violations or they got caught in a DWI roadblock. Sometimes, however, officers rely on more subjective proof, like furtive movements behind the steering wheel. But a nervous-looking driver is not probable cause in Minnesota.

Why You Should Work with a Brainerd, MN Criminal Defense Lawyer

If left to their own devices, many ALJs would probably ignore these things and always side with police officers. So, a Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer must diligently research the law and present these findings in a compelling way.

Once these defenses are presented, the ALJ might at least reduce the suspension period or probate part of the license suspension term.

A Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer can also help a defendant obtain an occupational drivers’ license, which is called a work permit in Minnesota. This limited license allows people to drive to and from work, to and from school, to and from the doctor, and to perform some essential household functions, like buying food. A waiting period applies, as follows:

  • Fifteen days for a first work permit,
  • 90 days for a second work permit, and
  • 180 days for a third work permit.

Longer waiting periods apply in complex cases, such as DWI-manslaughter or DWI-collision cases. Defendants cannot drive with their work permits until the waiting period expires.

After a fourth DWI, a work permit might not be available. But that doesn’t matter much, because at this point, the state usually revokes the defendant’s license permanently.

A Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer might still be able to help in these situations. A little-used loophole, called the B-card, is available in these situations. If these people complete alcohol treatment and sign alcohol abstinence pledges, the state can issue a limited drivers’ license after a waiting period expires. That waiting period is usually between one and three years.

Any alcohol use, even during something like a religious ceremony, cancels the license. It is a gross misdemeanor to drive with an invalid B-card.

Reach Out to a Dedicated Attorney

A DWI arrest does not necessarily mean an interruption or cancellation of your driving privileges. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Evidence in Drugged Driving Cases and Buffalo, MN DUI Lawyers

One day soon, marijuana Breathalyzers might revolutionize drugged driving prosecutions in Wright County. Under current law, if the defendant’s THC level was above five nanograms per milliliter of blood, the defendant was intoxicated as a matter of law. Marijuana, whether it was legally acquired or not, is the leading source of drugged driving prosecutions in Minnesota, followed by prescription medications like Xanax and Oxycontin.

For the foreseeable future, prosecutors must normally rely on rather thin circumstantial evidence to convict defendants in these situations. The burden of proof is very high. So, in order to overcome the presumption of innocence, the amount of evidence must be almost overwhelming.

Given the current environment, a skilled Buffalo, MN DUI lawyer is often able to successfully resolve these cases. That resolution could be a complete dismissal of charges, a not-guilty verdict at trial, or a favorable plea bargain arrangement.

Unapproved Drug Impairment Tests

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has approved three field sobriety tests for use in DUI-drug arrests. These tests arguably have some scientific basis, although that basis is rather shaky, as outlined below.

Nevertheless, many Wright County law enforcement officers have defendants perform unapproved tests as well. These tests fatigue defendants mentally and physically, so they do not do as well on the tests that count. Additionally, unless a Buffalo, MN DUI lawyer objects to their use, these test results are usually admissible in court.

Romberg’s balance test is probably the most common unapproved test. A German scientist developed this test about two hundred years ago. Subjects must stand perfectly straight while their eyes are closed and their heads are tilted back. This position robs subjects of the three things needed to maintain balance, which are:

  • Knowing the position of one’s body (proprioception),
  • Knowing one’s head position (vestibular function), and
  • Vision.

Sometimes, officers add additional bells and whistles, like having subjects touch the tips of their noses with their index fingers.

A Buffalo, MN DUI lawyer can normally get this test, and other tests, excluded. However, it’s sometimes best to let an officer try to explain things like “vestibular function” and “proprioception” to jurors. If the officer does not know the underlying principles of this test, which is likely, it looks like the state is trying to railroad the defendant.

Buffalo, MN DUI Lawyers and Approved Drug Impairment Field Tests

The Horizontal Dage Nystagmus test is usually the first approved test in the three-test battery. Subjects must follow moving objects, like ink pens, using only their eyes. If a pupil moves involuntarily at certain angles, the subject probably has nystagmus.

Drug impairment is one cause of nystagmus. But it’s not the only cause. It’s not even the leading cause. Genetic abnormalities and mild childhood brain injuries cause most nystagmus cases. This condition is also known as lazy eye. Many people have a lazy eye, but the symptoms are so mild they do not know it.

The bottom line is that many people “fail” this test even if they are not high or stoned. As a result, many Wright County judges only admit HGN test results for limited purposes.

The Walk and Turn usually comes next. Walking a straight line is probably the signature drug impairment field test. During this exam, officers look for a number of clues, such as swaying or not walking heel to toe, which indicate drug impairment.

Environmental factors often affect this test. It’s very difficult to walk an imaginary line unless the surface is perfectly level and flat. Additionally, it’s hard to maintain concentration when cars whiz by at high speeds and flashing strobe light dance on the top of the squad car.

By the time defendants get to the One Leg Stand, they are usually fatigued mentally and physically, especially if they had to do unapproved tests. Under these conditions, anyone with any mobility impairment will be unable to pass this test. Additionally, officers often issue failing grades on this test because of technicalities, like holding the elevated leg at slightly the wrong angle.

Drug Recognition “Experts”

DREs are police officers who have additional training in this area. That additional training usually comes exclusively from a brief, police-sponsored seminar, so its educational value might be limited.

If the DRE comes to the scene of the arrest early and administers the field sobriety tests, these individuals have some credibility. They are better able to grade tests than officers on the street.

But frequently, DREs arrive after the FSTs are in progress or completed. If they testify in court, a Buffalo, MN DUI lawyer can usually challenge the testimony. Their conclusion is based on hearsay, and under Minnesota law, these police officers normally do not qualify as “experts.”

Contact an Assertive Attorney

It is not easy for the state to prove DUI-drug cases beyond a reasonable doubt. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN DUI lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Jail Release and Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers

The Gopher State has one of the highest unsentenced inmate percentages in the United States. Most jail inmates are simply waiting for their trial dates. They have not been convicted of anything. This situation is not good for a number of reasons, some of which are outlined below.

The high unsentenced inmate population gives Minnesota criminal defense lawyers more options than ever in terms of jail release. Keep reading to learn more about them. In most cases, even if you were charged with a serious felony, there’s no reason to wait for your trial date in an iron cage.

Why Jail Release is Important

Pretrial detention makes it very difficult to successfully resolve criminal cases. In fact, according to many observers, pretrial detention transforms the presumption of innocence into a presumption of guilt.

These individuals understandably want quick trial dates. As a result, a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer might be forced to take shortcuts during the case evaluation and evidence collection processes. Furthermore, many people who are behind bars accept unfavorable plea bargain arrangements just to “get it over with.” Indirect effects, like immigration consequences of a felony conviction,  do not get the attention they deserve.

Jail release is also important for personal reasons, and not all these reasons are obvious. For example, incarceration greatly increases stress hormone production. Prolonged exposure to these hormones alters brain chemistry. Have you ever known a person who went to jail and came back as a different person? That’s because their brains are different.

Initial Jail Release

Blue states like Minnesota have rather liberal jail release policies. However, only a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer knows how to take full advantage of them.

If the defendant is charged with a nonviolent offense and has no criminal record, pretrial release might be an option. A review board examines the case, and if the board decides OR (own recognizance) release is appropriate, the board tells the Sherriff to release the defendant without posting any financial security.

Even if they meet the minimum qualifications, not everyone receives OR release. Sometimes, the board thinks that the defendant does not take the charges seriously. If the defendant has already hired a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer, that concern is irrelevant.

Cash bond is almost always an option. Essentially, cash bond is like a rental security deposit. If tenants pay the rent on time and take care of the property, they get most of the deposit back when the lease ends. Likewise, if defendants appear at trial and fulfill other obligations, like staying out of trouble with the law, they get most of the bond back when the case is over.

Bond amount varies, but it’s usually about $750 for a misdemeanor and $2,000 for most felonies. To many families, $2,000 might as well be $2 billion. That’s one reason the unsentenced proportion is so high. Many people simply don’t have the money.

So, a bail bond is usually available as well. A bail bond is like an insurance policy. If the house burns down, the fire insurance company covers the loss. If the defendant does not appear at trial, the bail bond company covers the financial loss. Most bonding companies charges about a 15 percent policy premium.

Frequently, bail bonds come with many, many strings attached. In addition to staying out of trouble with the police, most defendants must report to a bail bond officer and fulfill other conditions. A Minnesota criminal defense lawyer can negotiate with the bonding company and reduce these extra conditions.

Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers and Bail Reduction Hearings

Despite an attorney’s best efforts, bail is often either unavailable or unaffordable, at least initially. At the arraignment, which usually occurs about forty-eight hours after arrest, a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer can ask the judge to reduce bail. Some factors in this decision include:

  • Severity of the offense,
  • Defendant’s ability to pay,
  • Amount of evidence against the defendant,
  • Defendant’s contact with the community (e.g. family and/or job), and
  • Any threat to the community if the defendant is released.

These matters, and all criminal matters, usually settle out of court. For example, the prosecutor might agree to reduce bail if the defendant agrees to electronic monitoring.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

Prompt jail release does not guarantee a successful result, but it does put the wind at your back. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

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Buffalo Lawyers

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