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Criminal Defense Archives

How witness testimony can influence a criminal proceeding

Minnesota residents could be harmed if a police officer engages in misconduct. In some cases, misconduct could include lying on a witness stand or otherwise providing inaccurate information in a criminal matter. Recognizing this possibility, groups in Florida, California and Texas have sent letters to authorities in those states. The letters ask that police officers who engage in misconduct not be allowed to testify in criminal cases.

Monitoring devices and apps could reinforce racist views

In Minnesota and throughout the country, people use apps and social media channels to keep tabs on what is going on in their communities. However, these apps may not be the best way to stay informed about local events or issues. In some cases, the alerts that they issue are nothing more than nuisances or blatant attempts to scare people. Individuals may receive reports about people knocking on doors or putting glue on mailboxes.

Innocent people could spend years in prison

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, prisoners in Minnesota and throughout the country lost over 1,600 years to wrongful convictions in 2018. That was the highest figure since this statistic was first tracked in 1989. In 2018, there were 151 prisoners who were released after it was determined that they hadn't committed the crime they were convicted of. Those individuals served an average of 11 years in custody.

Can't jump to conclusions

I just finished the third jury trial, all for the same case and client. Just over two years ago he was charged with 4 felonies, the story was all over the papers, screaming headlines, TV news, his mug shot all over the place. As you can imagine, the impact on his business and personal life was devastating. Customers did not want to come to his shop, assuming that he must be guilty of what he was accused of. 

Study finds racial bias impacts bail decisions

Black defendants in Minnesota and throughout the United States are 2.4 percent more likely to be held during the legal process than white defendants. This is the key finding in a study to be published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Furthermore, it was determined that bail for black defendants was higher and that both white and black judges seemed to be biased against them.

Supreme Court rules in favor of privacy

Police in Minnesota and throughout America will need a warrant to search a vehicle located on private property. The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of a defendant who had been taken into custody after being suspected of stealing a motorcycle. Police believed that the motorcycle in question was sitting in the man's driveway under a tarp. After completing a search, they took him into custody when he arrived back at his home.

To Plea Or Not To Plea

The term 'plea bargain' has a bad name, making people think of guilty people getting by on lesser charges or innocent people pleading guilty because their lawyer is too lazy or incompetent to take a case to trial. Those assumptions are certainly true in some cases, but plea bargaining, negotiating a settlement is no different than settling any other type of cases, both sides compromise to get a deal done. If you are charged with a crime, taking a plea bargain that keeps the consequences manageable as opposed to going to trial, where you face far worse consequences if you lose, may be a good idea. Take a good look at any plea bargain offered, taking into a account how strong your case is, and what the consequences of losing at trial would be. Remember, trials are unpredictable, there is no such thing as a 'slam dunk' for either side. 

You Get What You Pay For

You get what you pay for; It is an old saying but still true. Sometimes inexpensive means a bargain, and sometimes is just means cheap. I have written before about clients paying too much for some criminal defense attorneys. These are usually the ones who bill themselves as metro hotshots with fancy cars, slick offices, custom tailored suits. They spend a lot of money maintaining an image, and pass the costs on to their clients. One can also go too far in the other direction. Some of the fees I hear quoted for criminal work are amazingly low, so low that the attorneys involved are either losing money on them, or are doing almost no work for their clients. Handling a criminal case is not just a quick meeting with the prosecutor and striking a deal. While most cases settle based on an agreement, there is a huge amount of work that goes into getting a good deal for your client. Information is obtained from the prosecution, reviewed, discussed with the client, legal issues are researched, in some cases independent investigations are conducted. In many cases pre-trial motions are filed and argued, pre-trial motion work can take months and involve multiple hearings. If an attorney is willing to take on criminal work at a loss, more power to them. In most cases, low fees mean the attorney is not planning to put much into the case. If all you can afford is a low fee, that is better than nothing. Even a misdemeanor criminal case, if handled the wrong way can have long term negative consequences. If you are dealing with a felony the wrong move can send you to prison. If you do go low budget make sure to bank the money you save, there is a good chance you will need it for your prison commissary account, phone cards and snacks get expensive.

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