Is Wax a Felony in Minnesota?

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Possessing marijuana wax in any amount qualifies you for felony charges in Minnesota.  You will also face felony charges if you distribute or sell wax (also known as “dabs”), THC oil, or other alternative forms of marijuana. If you are convicted, you will face substantial penalties that can seriously affect your life. Fortunately, a Minnesota drug possession lawyer can help you by building a strong case for your defense. What Are the Penalties for Wax Possession? Any offense involving the possession of marijuana in resin or hash oil form – including wax – can result in felony charges. Although possessing the plant form of marijuana in small quantities carries only petty misdemeanor charges, even the smallest amount of wax can send you to prison for years. The level of felony charges you face for possessing wax will depend on the quantity in question, your prior criminal history, and the circumstances of your arrest.  Even the least of the potential felony charges carries the threat of five years in prison and fines up to $10,000. For larger quantities, you could face up to 30 years behind bars and as much as $1,000,000 in fines. If you have prior convictions on your record, you can expect to face the maximum penalties. What Are the Penalties for Distributing Wax? Selling or distributing wax and other non-plant forms of marijuana carries even harsher penalties, especially when larger quantities are involved. The maximum penalty could lead to 35 years in prison and a fine of $1,250,000.  Any quantity sold to a minor or distributed in a school zone can lead to 15 to 20 years in prison and fines that range up to $250,000. Costs & Consequences of a Wax-Related Crime Upon conviction for a wax-related felony, you also face a variety of consequences in addition to fines and potential prison time. You will have a permanent criminal record, which can prevent you from getting a job, getting into a good school, holding a professional license, and more. You could lose your driver’s license, and in some cases, the state could even seize your property and assets, depending on the circumstances of your case. How Does Medical Marijuana Affect Wax? If you are medically qualified for marijuana use, you can legally possess small quantities of wax. To avoid facing misdemeanor or felony wax charges, you must be duly enrolled and in compliance with the applicable medical marijuana regulations. Potential Defenses Against Wax Charges Fortunately, drug crimes lawyers have many options when building a defense to felony wax charges. For example, an illegal search and seizure can render evidence inadmissible in court. Likewise, if the police fail to properly handle the evidence, it may also become inadmissible. Another effective defense strategy involves the location in which the police found the wax. If you did not have physical control of the substance (such as in a pocket or purse), your lawyer can potentially make the case that the wax wasn’t yours. If the police violated your legal rights at any time during your arrest or processing, you may also have grounds for getting your charges reduced or dismissed.   When Should You Call a Drug Crimes Lawyer? Being arrested for any drug-related crime is a serious situation. Before you make any statements or agree to any plea deal, talk to a Minnesota marijuana crimes lawyer. At Arechigo & Stokka, our criminal defense attorneys understand the seriousness of your situation. That’s why we offer a free consultation, so you can understand the charges pending against you and your potential options. Call us now for help.

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Maximum Sentence for Misdemeanor in Minnesota

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However, when speaking of possible sentences for misdemeanor criminal convictions in Minnesota, there is a broad range of possible sentences.   District courts have wide discretion in deciding which conditions to place on a person convicted of a misdemeanor in Minnesota.   THE MAXIMUM SENTENCE FOR MISDEMEANOR IN MINNESOTA IS 90 DAYS IN JAIL AND A $1,000.00 FINE These conditions can include random drug or alcohol testing, payment of restitution, and no contact with certain individuals, to name just a few. For the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor conviction in Minnesota, a court cannot impose more than a 90-day jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.   If a judge imposes the maximum sentence and orders the convicted individual to serve 90 days in jail, the judge cannot also impose conditions such as random drug or alcohol testing.   A person convicted of a misdemeanor in Minnesota has the option to execute the maximum 90-day jail sentence. If executed, the judge cannot order probation or additional conditions to be imposed after the 90 days have been served. SOME CRIMES IN MINNESOTA ARE ENHANCEABLE OFFENSES This means that the more you get, the worse the punishment gets.  DWI and Domestic Assault are probably the most common enhanceable offenses.   If a person is convicted of a first-time misdemeanor Domestic Assault offense, the maximum sentence that could be imposed is 90 days in jail.   However, if that same individual is convicted of a subsequent Domestic Assault offense within ten years of the misdemeanor conviction, that second offense will be enhanced to a gross misdemeanor and will carry increased penalties. In addition to a 90-day jail maximum sentence for a misdemeanor in Minnesota, there are additional penalties that could come into play for a conviction of certain types of offenses These additional penalties are commonly referred to as “collateral consequences.”   Again, DWI and Domestic Assault or probably the most common types of offenses that trigger collateral consequences if convicted.   For example, certain firearm restrictions are triggered by a misdemeanor domestic assault conviction in Minnesota and driver’s license revocation issues pop up if convicted of a misdemeanor DWI. If you or someone you know is facing a misdemeanor criminal charge in Minnesota, you need an experienced  Minnesota criminal defense lawyer.   Our St. Paul criminal defense attorneys will answer all of your questions about your misdemeanor charge.   Our Minnesota criminal defense attorneys will prepare a strong and effective defense that will help you avoid the maximum sentence for your misdemeanor charge.   Contact our St. Paul criminal defense lawyers today to schedule your free consultation.

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Keep Calm and Lawyer Up

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Perhaps the most important thing someone can remember to do when they find him or herself in the middle of a police encounter is to keep calm.   Getting into an argument with the police, no matter how right you may be, is not going to do any good.  The police will most likely describe you as being “uncooperative” or “combative.” Instead, keep calm and lawyer up.  Tell the officers that you would like to have your attorney present for any questioning.  After you have asserted your right to have an attorney present, the police cannot ask you anymore questions and the interrogation must end. Keep calm and lawyer up.

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How Long Can the Police Detain You?

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MOST PEOPLE WONDER HOW LONG CAN POLICE DETAIN YOU OR YOUR VEHICLE DURING A TRAFFIC STOP. The duration of the vehicle stop depends on the initial reason for the traffic stop and any other criminal suspicion that develops after the stop.   The Minnesota Supreme Court states that the duration of the vehicle stop must be temporary and cannot last any longer than is necessary to investigate the initial reason for the traffic stop.  However, there is no concrete time limit for a lawful length of a traffic stop. The police need to suspect other criminal activity separate from the reason for the initial traffic stop before they can continue to lawfully detain the vehicle beyond the time it would have taken to write a traffic citation.   Examples for Determining How Long Minnesota Police Can Detain You In determining how long can police detain you for failing to use a blinker while turning, the officer cannot approach the vehicle and ask the driver if there are drugs in the car.  That would be an unlawful expansion of the reason for the traffic stop.  The officer stopped the vehicle for not using a blinker, not because he suspected there were drugs in the car.  Before the officer can expand the duration of the traffic stop, he would need reason to believe there were drugs in the car.   If the officer thought he smelled marijuana in the vehicle then he could question the driver about having drugs.  In this situation, the officer could detain the driver as long as the officer acted to confirm his suspicions of drugs in the car.  How long police can detain you or your vehicle increases with each additional suspicion of criminal activity. THERE IS NO HARD-AND-FAST TIME LIMIT FOR A LAWFUL TRAFFIC STOP. The duration of the traffic stop will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding each individual traffic stop situation.  In one case, the Minnesota Supreme Court held a 61 minute traffic stop to be lawful under the circumstances. If you find yourself in the middle of a traffic stop, it is important to remember that you DO NOT have to answer any of the officer’s questions.  You have the absolute right to remain silent.  In most cases, it is in your best interests not to answer any questions.  Instead, simply tell the officer that you are not going to answer any questions without your Minnesota criminal defense lawyer present.   After that, call the St. Paul criminal defense lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka.  Our Minnesota criminal defense lawyers will advise you how to handle the situation and tell you what to say, if anything.  If you find yourself arrested or facing criminal charges following your traffic stop, our St. Paul criminal defense lawyers will investigate the reasons behind the initial traffic stop and the officer’s reasons for expanding the length of the stop.  If the officer unlawfully expanded the duration of your traffic stop, our St. Paul criminal defense lawyers will fight to have the evidence suppressed. Contact our Minnesota criminal defense lawyers today if you or someone you know recently faced an expanded traffic stop.

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Can Police Force You to Unlock Your Phone?

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Can Police Make You Use Your Fingerprint to Unlock Your Phone? Many newer smartphones allow owners to unlock their phone with the touch of their fingerprint. Smartphone manufacturers market the fingerprint lock as an advancement in security.  I would probably bet that a good number of people do not set a passcode lock on their phone because it’s annoying to have to enter a passcode to check your phone every ten minutes.  But, many more people probably would – and do – set up the fingerprint lock feature on their phone.  So, what’s the difference between a fingerprint and a passcode?  Well, when it comes to compelled police searches of your phone, the difference is enormous. Police Can Force You to Use Your Fingerprint to Unlock Your Phone Police can force iPhone – or any other smartphone equipped with fingerprint technology – users to unlock their iPhone if the iPhone is only secured by fingerprint security.  As long as the police have obtained a valid search warrant, they can command an iPhone owner to put her finger on the button and unlock the phone. Police Cannot Force You to Divulge Your Passcode to Unlock Your Phone If your iPhone is protected by a passcode, then the police cannot compel you to disclose the passcode for purposes of forcing you to unlock your phone.  It does not matter if they have secured a search warrant.  A search warrant cannot compel an iPhone owner to disclose the phone’s passcode.  The Fifth Amendment protects us from being forced by the government to provide evidence against ourselves.  This is the right against self-incrimination. Why the Legal Distinction Between A Fingerprint And A Passcode? Courts have drawn a legal line separating a fingerprint from a passcode.  Fingerprints are viewed as who we are rather than what we know.  A passcode is data stored in the brain, something we know.  Fingerprints, on the other hand (sorry, couldn’t resist), are much more accessible and make up our “biometric data.” This is a key distinction for purposes of compelled police searches.  Providing a passcode requires giving an oral statement to the police that potentially incriminates an individual.  Courts refer to this as a “testimonial statement.”  The Fifth Amendment gives us the right to remain silent and prevents the government from compelling a testimonial statement. Fingerprints are classified with DNA samples or voice samples.  This is not viewed as evidence you know; so, forcing you to put your finger on your iPhone is not the same as compelling a testimonial statement.  You’re not being forced to say something you know that potentially incriminates yourself. Moral of the story?  If you know you’re keeping potentially incriminating or unlawful information on your iPhone, best to lock it up with a passcode instead of a fingerprint. Schedule a Consultation With a Criminal Defense Lawyer Contact our criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation.   Our criminal defense lawyers are licensed in Minnesota, North Dakota, and United States District Court.   If the police have unlawfully recovered evidence against you by illegally searching your iPhone, our criminal defense lawyers will fight to have the evidence suppressed.

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What is Domestic Assault Felony?

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What is Domestic Assault Felony? Domestic assault in Minnesota can be either a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or a felony. Felonies are much more serious charges, which usually result in greater fines and more time in jail or prison. Also, felons can lose their civil rights, such as the right to vote or possess a firearm. If you have been accused of any crime of domestic violence, please contact us today. We have extensive experience with felony domestic assault in Minnesota and can help defend you. What Is Felony Domestic Assault in Minnesota? Felony domestic assault is an aggravated version of misdemeanor domestic assault, so let’s start there. Misdemeanor domestic assault under is defined under Section 609.2242 as doing the following to a member of the family or household: Acting with the intent to cause another person to fear death or immediate bodily harm Intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm Members of family or household includes: Parents Children Spouses Former spouses Any blood relative Someone currently residing with the defendant or someone who has resided in the past Romantic or sexual partner Person the defendant is pregnant with or has already had a child with If this is a defendant’s first offense, then he or she will be charged with misdemeanor domestic assault. The charges get kicked up to a felony if this is the third or subsequent “qualified domestic violence-related offense” within a 10-year period. At that point, the defendant can be charged with a felony. You can also be charged with domestic felony assault if you strangled a person, even if this is your first domestic violence-related offense. What Counts as a Prior Qualified Domestic Violence-Related Offense? This is a broad category and includes the following: Violation of certain protective or restraining orders Murder (first or second degree) Assault Misdemeanor domestic violence assault Malicious punishment of a child Sending private sexual images without consent Female genital mutilation Terroristic threats or stalking Interference of emergency call Also, convictions of similar type offenses in other states will count. Two or more of any of these offenses in a 10-year period means you can be charged with domestic felony assault for your third offense. Punishment for Felony Domestic Assault in Minnesota A convicted felon faces the following punishments: Up to 5 years in state prison A fine of up to $10,000 Both Felons in Minnesota can also lose important civil rights. As an example, a felon cannot vote in Minnesota until he or she has completed their probation or prison sentence/parole. You will also lose your ability to lawfully possess a firearm and will be burdened with the stigma of a convicted felon. Contact Us Today If you have been accused of domestic felony assault, you need a passionate criminal defense attorney by your side. Contact Arechigo & Stokka today. We have helped many people accused obtain a favorable resolution, and we are anxious to help you in every way we can. We offer a free, confidential consultation.

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Domestic Assault Law in Minnesota

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Minnesota takes violence between family members very seriously, and the state has laws on the books to punish those who harm or threaten those they are close to. If you have been accused or arrested for domestic assault, you are looking at serious penalties, so you will need the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Arechigo & Stokka, our team has defended many people accused of domestic assault in Minnesota, and we can help you, too. Please reach out to a criminal defense attorney today to discuss your options. What is Domestic Assault? Domestic assault is essentially violence between family or household members and is different from assault between strangers. Minnesota’s domestic assault law is found at 609.2242, and states that domestic assault consists of: actions that cause (or were intended to cause) fear of imminent bodily harm or death intentional infliction (or attempts to inflict) bodily harm A family or household member is defined as: Spouse or former spouse Parent Children Blood relative Person who is residing in the home or with whom you have resided in the past A person you have a child with, regardless of whether you were ever married Romantic or sexual partner Man and woman if the woman is pregnant with the man’s child Under the law, a perpetrator does not have to physically touch the victim. Instead, waving a gun in the person’s face could qualify as an act “intended to cause fear.” Penalties for Domestic Assault in Minnesota Domestic assault is a misdemeanor offense that carries the following penalties: Up to 90 days in jail Fine of up to $1,000 Both A defendant can also lose their firearms if convicted. A judge will need to find that the defendant used a firearm in “any way” during the assault. If so, then the judge can order the defendant to forfeit the firearm for a specific amount of time. If the defendant has a previous domestic violence-related conviction within the past 10 years, then a subsequent conviction will be a gross misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $3,000. A third conviction in a 10-year period will qualify as a felony. Felonies carry punishment of up to 5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both. Felons can also lose their civil rights, such as their right to vote while incarcerated or on parole. Protection Orders A family member might have gotten a protection order against you. If you violated the order at the same time as the assault, you are looking at additional penalties. For one thing, you can be immediately arrested by the police and held in jail subject to posting bond. You are also looking at a misdemeanor offense, including up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Criminal Defense Attorneys You Can Trust A domestic assault accusation is no small matter. Smart defendants will immediately meet with an attorney to review their case. At Arechigo & Stokka, we can help you understand your obligations under a protective order, and we can fight to get your domestic assault charge dismissed. Please contact us today for a free consultation.

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Supreme Court Limits Relief of Expungements in Minnesota

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The Minnesota Supreme Court has once again restricted the relief district courts are allowed to offer individuals seeking expungements in Minnesota. On May 22, 2013, the Court issued its decision in State v. M.D.T.  The Minnesota Supreme Court has taken the position that ordering agencies outside of the court system to seal their records of convictions is not a necessary judicial function inherent in the performance of a court’s duties.   If you were convicted of a crime in Minnesota, you may still be eligible to seek an expungement of the court records, but any records of that conviction maintained by agencies outside of the court system will likely remain open to the public. The Minnesota Court of Appeals issued a decision in the same case in 2012. There, the Court of Appeals held that district courts can use their inherent authority to seal the records held by executive agencies, such as police departments and the BCA, even in cases that resulted in convictions. However, the Supreme Court limited the reach of the Court of Appeals’ decision in its M.D.T. opinion. This means expungements in Minnesota may not offer the full relief people are seeking. At this point, it is going to be difficult if you wish to expunge all records that resulted from a criminal conviction in Minnesota. This doesn’t mean you can never get an expungement of criminal records kept by agencies outside of the court system. If criminal charges were filed but later dismissed, or if you were found not guilty after a trial, then you are still entitled to an expungement of all criminal records related to the charge(s), including any records kept by outside law enforcement agencies. The expungement relief offered in State v. R.H.B. still exists despite the Court’s ruling in M.D.T.   As noted in this site’s previous post, if criminal charges were dismissed or you were acquitted after trial, you are still presumed to be entitled to an expungement of all records maintained by the courts and outside law enforcement agencies. So, while Minnesota continues to offer a fairly significant amount of expungement relief, that relief has been reeled in a bit by the Court’s latest decision in M.D.T.  The exact expungement relief available will continue to depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. Contact Us Contact the Minnesota expungement lawyers at Arechigo and Stokka if you would like to discuss a possible expungement of criminal records. Our Minnesota expungement attorney will review the facts of your case and determine whether you qualify for expungements in Minnesota.

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Minnesota Passes New Revenge Porn Law

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As expected, Minnesota has passed a new revenge porn law. Minnesota will become the 33rd state to criminalize revenge porn. Lawmakers began debating a revenge porn law ever since the Court of Appeals declared Minnesota’s former criminal defamation law unconstitutional in our Turner case.  Lawmakers formed a revenge porn working group designed to gain input into what the new revenge porn law should look like.  Attorney John Arechigo was a member of the working group.  The new law takes effect August 1, 2016. NONCONSENSUAL DISSEMINATION OF PRIVATE SEXUAL IMAGES Minnesota’s new revenge porn law has been titled Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images. The law punishes anyone who intentionally disseminates a private sexual image of another. The law does not require the person disseminating the photo to actually know the other person did not consent to the dissemination. Rather, it’s enough if the circumstances show the person should have known the subject of the photo did not consent to the dissemination.   The law also does not require that the state prove the actor actually knew the subject had an expectation that the photo would remain private. The law makes a first-time offense without any aggravating circumstances a Gross Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES The act of disseminating private sexual images is treated as a felony punishable by up to three years in prison if there is sufficient proof of any of the following circumstances: the subject of the image suffered financial loss due to the dissemination the actor disseminated the image with an intent to profit off of the dissemination the actor maintained a website for the purpose of disseminating these types of images the actor posted the image on a website the actor disseminated the image with an intent to harass the subject the actor obtained the image through computer hacking the actor had previously been convicted of this offense. NEGLIGENCE VS. SPECIFIC INTENT The biggest question surrounding the new Minnesota revenge porn law is what’s referred to as the legal standard for punishment.  The nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images law punishes actors under a negligence standard in that it does not require proof that the actor acted with any sort of intent to harm the subject or intent to cause some level of emotional distress in disseminating the photos.  The law punishes the act of disseminating the images, regardless of the actor’s intent. Criminal laws typically require two elements before criminalizing conduct – the act itself and a level of criminal intent to commit the crime. Criminal laws typically do not punish innocent conduct, that is, conduct that may be a crime but the circumstances show the person did not act with the necessary level of intent to commit the crime.   This is essentially negligence. We usually do not criminalize negligence because there is not a sufficient level of criminal intent to actually commit the underlying criminal offense. Let’s use Theft as an example.  Theft requires proof that a person had property of another without the property owner’s permission and also had an intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession of the property. If the person possessing the property didn’t actually know they had the property, for example, then there clearly is no intent to permanently deprive the property owner of possession.  There is no guilty mind to punish. Minnesota’s new revenge porn law criminalizes negligence.  It does not require proof that the actor disseminated the images with any sort of underlying criminal intent.  This may very well turn out to be a fatal flaw in the law exposing it to a constitutional challenge. The new law also arguably encroaches on areas of free speech protected by the First Amendment.  Activists argue the law punishes conduct – the act of disseminating – and, therefore, does not encroach of free speech issues.  They argue the new revenge porn law essentially punishes conduct invading one’s privacy.  However, it is well established that distribution of photos, video, recordings, and other forms of media falls under the first amendment’s protection.   Expressive conduct – that is, behavior that combines some sort of conduct with a level of speech – can be protected by the first amendment.  Laws that punish the content of speech walk a fine line in terms of their constitutionality.  It will be interesting to find out how Minnesota courts will view the new revenge porn law.   Courts may very well find that the new law punishes speech.  If that is indeed the finding reached by a court, the state may have a hard time arguing the law is constitutional. EXPERIENCED MINNESOTA CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS Minnesota’s non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images is a new law.  It will take time for the courts to adapt and get a handle on the law.  We previously successfully challenged the constitutionality of the prior law punishing revenge porn.  The new law may have a number of constitutional shortcomings, as well.  Working with the legislative working group gives us the inside knowledge needed to challenge this law. CONTACT US If you are facing a charge under the new revenge porn law, please contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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Can You Go to Jail for Accidentally Killing Someone with Your Car?

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Yes, it is possible. Minnesota has a criminal vehicular homicide statute that criminalizes the accidental killing of someone in a grossly negligent manner or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This statute does not cover every accidental killing but will certainly apply to someone who was drunk or high or who was severely negligent. Penalties are very severe, as you would expect when someone dies. Atour firm, we defend these cases aggressively, but it is important that you understand the details of the law. Minnesota’s Vehicular Homicide Law You can find the statute atSection 609.2112. It defines criminal vehicular homicide as killing someone while operating a motor vehicle when one of the following aggravating factors applies: You operated the vehicle with gross negligence You operated the vehicle negligently while under the influence of drugs or a controlled substance You had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher You left the scene of an accident that you caused Your accident was caused by a defect in the vehicle and a peace officer had previously issued a citation or warning for defective maintenance These are basically the 5 bases that warrant a criminal vehicular homicide charge. Let’s look at some of them more closely. Gross Negligence Gross negligence is more serious than simple carelessness. For example, anyone could forget to check their rearview mirrors before backing up in a parking lot, which causes them to accidentally run someone over. This type of mistake, though, probably doesn’t qualify as gross negligence. Instead, gross negligence requires more blameworthy conduct. Generally, any action that a driver should know would cause a high risk of injury would qualify, such as running someone off the road by following too closely or dangerously trying to pass someone who is in a crosswalk. Impairment by Drugs or Alcohol There are several ways to qualify as sufficiently impaired. First, if you blow too high a number on a breathalyzer, then you are impaired for purposes of this statute. However, you can also qualify as impaired even if your BAC is under 0.08. The law covers situations where motorists operate a vehicle “negligently” while having some drugs or alcohol in their system. So, if you accidentally back up over someone after ingesting cocaine or heroin or drinking a beer, you could be charged with vehicular homicide. Leaving the Scene of an Accident If you caused an accident, you need to stop and render reasonable assistance. If you fail to, and the victim dies, you can be charged with criminal vehicular homicide. Can You Go to Jail for Accidentally Killing Someone in a Car Accident? Yes. In fact, you face a presumption of going to prison for 48 months if you are convicted of criminal vehicular homicide. If you are convicted of criminal vehicular homicide, you can face the following additional penalties: Up to 10 years in prison A fine up to $20,000 Both If you have a recent qualifying driving offense, the maximum imprisonment could be 15 years. Of course, not everyone convicted ends up in jail. A lot will depend on your criminal history. An aggressive criminal defense attorney can present your case to a judge in a way that helps get the most lenient sentence possible. Avoid Delay – Contact Us Arechigo & Stokka is a leading Minnesota criminal defense law firm that has tackled vehicular homicide cases. We will fight to get the most favorable resolution to your case, whether that is a dismissal, plea deal, or acquittal at trial. Contact ustoday to find out more. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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