Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines

    | Read Time: 7 minutes

Overview of Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Though judges may seem to have considerable leeway in sentencing individuals who have been convicted of crimes, real-life circumstances are very different from what you see in films. Minnesota, several other US states, and the federal government have implemented sentencing guidelines to assist judges in handing down punishment. These sets of rules are designed to ensure fairness and consistency, so that bias doesn’t adversely affect basic principles of justice. Like their counterparts in other jurisdictions, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines are extremely complex and take various factors into account in determining penalties for a conviction. For this reason, it’s important to retain experienced legal counsel as early on in the criminal process as possible. Your Minnesota criminal defense attorney can defend your interests in the underlying crime and will strive to obtain a favorable outcome when it comes to sentencing. In addition, you may find it useful to review some basic information about how sentencing works under Minnesota criminal laws. [DOWNLOAD] Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines E-Book MINNESOTA SENTENCING GRID FAQ Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Chart Below is the Minnesota sentencing guideline chart showing severity levels of crimes, the MN point system, and the felony point system in MN. Overview of Minnesota Sentencing Commission and Guidelines Back in 1978, Minnesota lawmakers enacted the first legislation in the US regarding a set of rules to assist judges in sentencing. The statute created the Minnesota Sentencing Commission, a government body that implemented another first in the country: The Minnesota sentencing guidelines went into effect in 1980. Since that time, the number of convicted felons who were sentenced according to the rules grew from 5,500 to 18,288 felony offenders in 2017 – according to the Commission’s 2019 Report to the Legislature. The Commission is charged with establishing the Guidelines and updating them on an annual basis, with the primary goal being public safety. A secondary objective of the sentencing system is to promote uniformity and ensure that decisions on punishment are not motivated by race, gender, or other constitutionally protected classifications. By applying the guidelines, sentencing is more likely to be neutral, logical, and consistent. As will be described in further detail below, the Minnesota sentencing guidelines encompass a grid system that assesses the severity of the crime and the individual’s criminal history. The product of this analysis is a presumptive sentence, though a judge can exercise some discretion within a limited range of potential punishments. Under designated – mostly rare – circumstances, a court can depart from the presumptive sentence. Over the decades since the Guidelines went into effect, they have been largely successful in meeting the stated objectives of the Commission. The 2019 Report indicates that Minnesota has consistently ranked in the top three US states with the lowest imprisonment rates; the state has earned this accolade in all but one of the 37 years spanning from 1980 – 2016. In addition, Minnesota’s imprisonment rate in 2016 was around 190 for every 100,000 residents in the state. This number is less than half the rate of all other states, which was 387 per 100,000 residents. Because the system created by the Guidelines results in some of the lowest rates of incarceration, your situation may not be as grim as you think. Of course, the outcome will depend on the specifics of your case. A skilled criminal defense attorney can work to develop a strategy that takes the best possible advantage of the Guidelines. SENTENCING GUIDELINES IN MN FAQ Presumptive Versus Maximum Sentences The Minnesota sentencing guidelines are developed around the concept of “presumptive” sentences. The term comes from the fact that the punishment is presumed to be appropriate for all typical cases, after accounting for the individual’s criminal history and the severity of the offense for which he or she was convicted. Within the presumptive sentence, there are two important factors: The presumptive duration, which is a defined sentence length as measured in months; and, The presumptive range of punishment, starting from a point 15 percent lower and 20 percent higher than the presumptive duration. When applying the factors of the two-part test explained below, the judge will come to a designated spot on the sentencing guidelines grid – which contains the presumptive duration and presumptive range for individuals convicted of Minnesota felonies. In a typical case, one that doesn’t encompass unusual circumstances, the judge will use the presumptive duration. However, where there are factors that reflect unfavorably on the convicted individual, the court can sentence up to the presumptive range limit. Likewise, when the person’s actions justify a reduced sentence, a judge may issue a sentence on the low end of the presumptive range. In addition, the court is required to abide by rules related to the statutory maximum sentence. For Minnesota felonies, the statute will usually use the phrase “imprisonment for not more than X years.” This language defines the maximum sentence a judge can issue. MINNESOTA SENTENCING FAQ Two-Part Determination Under Minnesota Criminal Laws The core of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines is the Grid, a table with a horizontal and vertical axis. The axes incorporate two separate factors that a court applies when determining a sentence. Severity Level: Here, the focus is the crime for which you were convicted in the current case. On the vertical axis, the severity level is an assigned ranking starting on the high end at Severity Level 11 – mostly murder cases. The lowest is Severity Level 1, which incorporates certain assault felonies. Criminal History Score: Your past criminal record is the key consideration with this part of the test, making up the horizontal axis of the Grid. For purposes of your Criminal History Score, you accumulate points for: Prior felonies; Your custody status at the time of the offense, i.e., whether you were on probation or otherwise within the Minnesota criminal justice system; Prior to certain misdemeanors; and, Previous juvenile matters. MINNESOTA SENTENCING GUIDELINES FAQ Specific Rules for Certain Offenders The standard sentencing grid applies to all felony cases except for...

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5th Degree Drug Possession in MN – What Are the Consequences?

    | Read Time: 5 minutes

What is 5th Degree Drug Possession in MN? If you are facing 5th degree drug possession charges in the state of Minnesota, you might be unsure of what to do. Because of the complicated categorization of drug offenses, it can be confusing to understand your charges. It’s always important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. Your attorney can go over your charges with you and mount a strong defense. At Arechigo & Stokka, P.A., we have decades of experience handling these types of charges for our clients. In this article, we’ll discuss 5th-degree drug charges in Minnesota, as well as possible consequences and defenses. Remember that with the help of a criminal defense lawyer, you might be able to reduce, or eliminate charges. If you face drug possession charges, we strongly recommend that you contact us as soon as possible. Being charged with drug possession can be a complex legal process. Fill out the free and confidential form below with some brief details of your charge so we can review the details of your drug charge. What Are 5th Degree Drug Charges in MN?  In the state of Minnesota, there are five different degrees of drug charges. The degree of the crime depends upon the amount of substance in question. It also depends upon whether someone is selling or manufacturing the substance. 5th degree drug charges are the least serious. 5th degree drug charges only include those for possession or sale. However, 5th degree drug charges can be either a felony or gross misdemeanor.  Felony 5th degree drug charges in Minnesota are for the sale of drugs or possession of larger amounts of drugs. Gross misdemeanor charges are those for possession of a small amount of drugs. In other words, if the cops arrest someone because they were selling marijuana, mixed drugs, or one of the drugs on Minnesota’s Schedule IV list, they might charge the person with felony 5th degree drug sale. If they arrest someone who was in possession of any of the drugs on the schedule I, II, III, or IV list (in greater than the amounts listed for gross misdemeanor charges), they might charge the person with felony 5th degree drug possession. If it is someone’s first offense, and they possess less than 0.05 grams of heroin or less than 0.25 grams (or one dosage unit) of another controlled substance, they might charge the person with 5th degree gross misdemeanor possession.  What Are the Consequences for 5th Degree Drug Possession?  The consequences for 5th degree drug possession in Minnesota will depend on whether the charge was a felony or gross misdemeanor.  Gross misdemeanor possession charges are punishable by up to one year in jail, a $3,000 fine, oandr forfeiture of property related to the crime, like cash obtained. Felony 5th degree drug possession charges are punishable by up to five years in jail or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.  However, the consequences you face outside the justice system may be worse. You may experience difficulty adjusting to life after your conviction. It could be difficult to find work or housing. You may also lose certain privileges, such as voting rights or the ability to lawfully possess a firearm. Because the consequences of 5th degree drug possession can be so severe, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.  Choosing the Right Drug Offense Attorney Your choice of attorney will be the single most crucial factor in defending your drug charges in Minnesota. Several defenses may be available. The experienced attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. will thoroughly investigate your case and work tirelessly to defend you. Possible strategies for defense include the following: Investigating Entrapment Depending on the situation, entrapment may be a viable defense if officers tricked you into buying or selling drugs. Analyzing the Chain of Evidence We analyze the chain of evidence to assess whether the drugs were actually in your possession. Examining Due Process  We determine whether law enforcement complied with due process. We ensure that the arresting officers did not violate your constitutional rights, such as your right to be free from unreasonable searches. Assessing Legal Possession If you had a legal prescription for the substance but were not able to present it at the time of your arrest, you may still be able to get the charges dropped later. Contact Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. If you’ve been arrested on a 5th degree drug charge in Minnesota, contact the experienced attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. We offer free consultations and will aggressively defend your case. Our Case Results Our drug defense attorneys have had a number of drug charges dropped or reduced after a thorough investigation into the police conduct that resulted in the discovery of the drugs. Charges drop or reduce because of the unlawful search of a motor vehicle, insufficient probable cause to support a search warrant to search a home, unlawful seizures and pat searches of an individual, and unreliable informants providing information to police. Our criminal defense lawyers have also kept clients convicted of serious 1st degree drug crimes out of prison after successful downward dispositional arguments. Felony Drug Possession Felony Drug Possession Charges Dismissed For Unlawful Police Entry of Home THE FACTS: Client was charged with felony drug possession for drugs found during a search of his home. Police responded to a report of an injured female in the front yard of the residence. A bystander was with the female and had called the police. The caller did not provide any information concerning any activity at the residence. Responding officers recognized the female and knew her boyfriend was the client. The officers also knew the client had a prior history of drug charges and lived at the nearby residence. Officers walked up to the front door of the residence and found the door unlocked. The officers did not bother asking for any permission to enter the home....

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Minnesota Self-Defense Laws | What Are They?

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In Minnesota, if you are facing a threat of imminent bodily harm or injury, in certain circumstances, you have a right to use force to defend yourself. Minnesota self-defense laws describe the conditions in which you can lawfully use force in self-defense. Knowing self-defense laws can help you understand your rights and responsibilities.  St. Paul, Minnesota Self-Defense Laws Self-defense is one of the most commonly used defenses in cases involving assault, battery, or other crimes of violence. To prove self-defense in Minnesota, an accused person must show: The alleged victim was the aggressor, An accused person had a real or perceived fear of harm to their person, The accused person’s belief was reasonable, The accused person did not use aggression or provoke the attack, and There was no reasonable opportunity to retreat or escape. A claim of self-defense has some important limitations. A person’s use of force in self-defense must appear reasonable to a judge or jury. Further, a person may use only the amount of force necessary to prevent the attack or to protect themselves from harm. The amount of force used in self-defense must be proportionate to the threat posed by the victim. Duty to Retreat Before a person can use self-defense outside of their own home, Minnesota law imposes a duty to retreat.  If a person is facing a threat of bodily injury or harm, he or she must first attempt to retreat to a safe location. The concept of the retreat includes any attempt to de-escalate or otherwise avoid violent confrontation. However, if the retreat is not available or the person cannot do so safely, he or she may then use force or otherwise act in self-defense. In addition, Minnesota allows a person to use deadly force only as a last resort. You may use deadly force outside the home only if there is no reasonable opportunity to retreat and you reasonably believe that you face imminent danger of great bodily harm. A person who uses deadly force in self-defense may still face criminal charges, including murder if he or she had an opportunity to retreat.  No Stand-Your-Ground Law in Minnesota Stand-your-ground laws remove the duty to retreat. If a state has a stand-your-ground law, a person may use force, including deadly force, without first attempting to retreat from the danger. Unlike many other states, Minnesota does not have a stand-your-ground law. In Minnesota, a person must first attempt to escape a dangerous threat before resorting to force.  Castle Doctrine  Although Minnesota does not have a stand-your-ground law, the state still applies the castle doctrine.  This doctrine removes the duty to retreat if a person is threatened in his or her own home. Minnesota courts have decided that a person should not be required to retreat from his or her own home. Thus, in certain circumstances, you may use force, including deadly force, in self-defense when threatened in your own home. The castle doctrine, like other forms of self-defense, is available only in certain circumstances and is subject to limitations. When to Contact a Lawyer If you are accused of a crime or were involved in a violent confrontation, you should contact a qualified attorney to represent you. Self-defense laws depend on a variety of circumstances and a complex set of rules and legal definitions. Understanding self-defense laws requires experience and familiarity with the criminal justice system. Cases involving self-defense often deal with serious crimes that carry potentially severe consequences. Even if you have a legitimate self-defense claim, if you fail to meet the legal requirements and provide sufficient evidence, you risk losing your case. Hiring a criminal defense attorney will improve your chances of establishing self-defense and winning your case.   Contact a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney Today If you are facing criminal charges. or you were in a violent confrontation, contact the law firm of Arechigo & Stokka, P.A., today. Our dedicated team has extensive experience defending our clients in criminal cases. We will thoroughly investigate your case, help you understand your legal options, and determine the best course of action. We know how difficult this process can be, and we will support you every step of the way. For a free consultation, call our offices at 651-222-6603 or fill out an online form today.  

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Is a DWI a Felony in MN?

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When is a DWI a Felony in MN? Not every DWI is a felony in Minnesota. You can face charges for felony DWI, but a series of aggravating factors is required to trigger a felony DWI in Minnesota. In fact, a large percentage of DUI/DWI crimes in MN are felonies. But even if the court finds you guilty of a misdemeanor, the penalties you face can be life-changing. In addition to the potential for going to jail, you will have to pay substantial fines as well as court costs and fees. You could lose your driver license, your license plates, or even your vehicle. With the help of a DUI defense attorney, these charges can potentially be reduced or eliminated. Contact our office today to discuss your specific case and possible defenses. What Is a Misdemeanor DWI? Typically, you will face misdemeanor charges for your first DWI offense. If any aggravating factors apply to your arrest, however, the court could charge you with a gross misdemeanor. Aggravating factors include: Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.16 or above, Having a child age 16 or under in the car, Refusing to submit to BAC testing, and Having prior DWI convictions. Upon conviction for misdemeanor DUI/DWI, you could face 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Although penalties are less harsh than the penalties for a felony, a gross misdemeanor DWI conviction could earn you up to one year in county jail. You will also face monetary fines up to $3,000 as well as a lengthy suspension of your driver license. What Is a Felony DWI in MN? In Minnesota, you will face felony DWI charges under any of the following circumstances: You have a prior felony DWI conviction on your record; You had a prior felony vehicular injury or homicide conviction involving impairment; or You had three or more DWI convictions in the past ten years. Although you may associate DWI with drinking and driving, you face the same penalties if you drive while under the influence of a Schedule I or II drug in any amount. Costs & Consequences of Felony DWI Upon conviction for a felony DWI in MN, you face up to seven years in a state prison and as much as $14,000 in fines. If you have prior felonies on your record, your penalties could be much worse. Further, the prosecutor can tack on additional charges based on the circumstances of your arrest. With a felony conviction, you also face years of supervised probation, long-term alcohol monitoring, and a host of administrative penalties. Administrative penalties may include: The cancelation or revocation of your driver license, The requirement to install an ignition interlock device on all your vehicles, Impoundment of your license plates, and/or Forfeiture of your vehicle. You will have a permanent criminal record, which can interfere with your ability to get a job or rent a home. You will also struggle to find affordable insurance coverage as a convicted DWI offender. When Should You Contact a Minnesota DUI Lawyer? Any DWI arrest – felony or misdemeanor – can substantially affect every aspect of your life. Don’t risk your future by agreeing to a deal with the prosecutor or trying to represent yourself in court. The Minnesota felony DWI lawyers of Arechigo & Stokka understand how frightening this experience can be, and we are here to help you. We have assisted hundreds of clients facing misdemeanor and felony DUI/DWI charges. Let us put our extensive knowledge, experience, and resources to work for you. Still have questions to see if your Minnesota DWI charge is a felony? We offer a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to answer your questions and help you make the right choice for your future. Contact us today to learn more.

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What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover in MN?

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If you suffer a job-related injury, workers’ compensation insurance could provide some benefits that can assist with your medical expenses and the time you miss from work. However, there are strict eligibility rules, and navigating the claims process can be frustrating. Understandably, many injured workers are left trying to figure out, What does workers’ comp cover? If you have questions about pursuing a workers’ compensation claim, contact an experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney.   What Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover? If you are eligible, your workers’ compensation benefits can cover: Medical treatment, Loss of earnings, Any ongoing care costs, and Funeral expenses. Some workers’ compensation claims are not related to a single accident or traumatic event. Instead, they develop over time. Some illnesses would qualify for benefits if you suffered exposure to harmful substances or chemicals. If a medical doctor diagnoses you with a condition connected to your work-related activities, workers’ compensation benefits would likely provide some assistance with your treatment and time off work.  Repetitive injury claims also fall under workers’ compensation. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome can take years to develop in some cases. If your job involves a lot of typing, workers’ compensation may pay for some of your treatment costs. In some cases, injuries or illness are severe enough that you are temporarily disabled. In that case, workers’ compensation could potentially pay for some of your missed wages during your disability period as well as your treatment. What Does Workers’ Compensation Not Cover? Workers’ comp benefits won’t cover you for injuries you sustain outside of work. Additionally, benefits won’t apply if you: Were intoxicated or using illegal drugs at the time; Intentionally hurt yourself; Were injured during the commission of a crime; Started a fight; or Violated company policy. If you are worried about a denial, it’s better to be honest upfront. If you try to cover up your actions and someone figures it out, you could be facing a coverage denial even if your claim was valid. Who Gets Workers’ Comp? In general, Minnesota Workers’ compensation laws state that employers must purchase applicable coverage or be self-insured. However, some employers may be exempt from carrying coverage. Federal government employees are also not covered under state-run benefits programs. Instead, federal employees have benefits under federal workers’ comp. Minnesota law excludes specific categories of workers from workers’ comp benefits as well. The exclusions can apply to people who are associated with the following business types, depending on their role in the company, their relationship to the company owners, and the size of the company: Family farm corporations, Sole proprietors and partnerships, Closely held corporations, and Limited liability companies. In some cases, employers who wish to include categories of workers excluded from workers’ comp can take steps to have them listed as eligible for benefits. Some employers elect to do this if they have independent contractors, seasonal workers, domestic workers, etc. If you fall under one of these categories and suffer a job-related injury, ask about potential coverage. How Does the Workers’ Compensation Coverage Process Work in MN? You must report your accident or condition to your employer within 14 days of the injury. For repetitive injuries or occupational diseases, your date of injury is when you knew or should’ve learned that you had work-related injuries. Once you have reported the information, your employer will fill out a form and send it to the insurance company. Provided your injury wasn’t severe and required immediate transport to the hospital, the insurance company will advise whether you are approved for benefits and provide a list of doctors within the plan. Typically, you are expected to see a doctor covered under the plan, unless there is no listed medical provider within 30 to 50 miles from your home. If your benefits are denied, you have the right to file a formal appeal with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.   I Wasn’t Injured at My Workplace; What Does Workers’ Comp Cover? There may be coverage for someone who wasn’t injured at their place of employment in some cases. Were you still in the course and scope of your employment but somewhere else? If so, then your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should provide coverage. Maybe you were out at a training session, speaking at an event, or driving a company vehicle on your way to the office after visiting a job site. Injuries occurring during any of these events could potentially trigger workers’ compensation benefits. Why Would I Need a Workers’ Comp Attorney? Unfortunately, it’s common to have a legitimate claim for benefits denied by the insurance company. The appeals process can be complicated. You want an experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits attorney on your side who can help you through the process.  If you need assistance with a workers’ compensation claim, contact the Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka. We have decades of experience handling workers’ compensation denials. Let us put our experience to work for you and help you get the benefits you’re entitled to after a work-related injury.  

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Is There Workers’ Compensation for Independent Contractors?

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Workers’ compensation coverage will provide benefits to an employee who suffers a work-related injury or illness. In most cases, workers’ comp insurance for independent contractors does not exist. This means that independent contractors are not usually eligible for workers’ compensation, but there are some exceptions. If you disagree that you’re an independent contractor, workers’ compensation benefits may be available if you can prove you’re an employee. To learn more about workers’ compensation for independent contractors, contact a skilled Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney.    Are Independent Contractors Covered by Workers’ Comp? The law doesn’t require employers to purchase workers’ compensation for independent contractors. This coverage is typically reserved for employees only. However, some employers choose to buy coverage that would extend to independent contractors. Independent contractors can also purchase their own policy that would cover them in the event of an injury on the job.   Sometimes, employers try to classify workers as independent contractors who are actually employees. In some instances, the misclassification is a mistake, but other times it’s intentional. By categorizing employees as independent contractors, employers get out of paying benefits and additional taxes.   Independent Contractors and Employees Answering some questions can help determine whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor. The most critical factors to look at are:  Payment—Is payment by the job, or do you receive wages, either hourly or salary? Control and Direction—How much control do you have over your own work? Equipment—Do you provide your own equipment, or does the employer provide it? Training and Character of Work—Is your work highly skilled, and do you only perform a single job while working for multiple companies? Answering these questions can help determine whether you are an employee who is misclassified as an independent contractor. If you find that your employer dictates these factors, then you are likely an employee. Some employers might have you sign an agreement that says you are an independent contractor, but that’s not enough to override the laws that determine whether you’re an employee or not. If you feel your employer wrongfully denied your benefits due to independent contractor status, you need to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney right away.   When Are You Entitled to Workers’ Comp in Minnesota? You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you are an employee who suffers a work-related injury or sickness. Workers’ comp can cover some expenses like your medical and rehabilitation costs, and it can replace a portion of your lost wages.

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What Happens If I Miss My Court Date in Minnesota?

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Missing a court date for a misdemeanor is not something to take lightly. Courts take missed court appearances very seriously. Depending on the reason you missed it, the judge could take additional legal action against you. Defendants who have legitimate reasons for missing a court appearance could have their hearing rescheduled, but you want to take immediate action. If you missed a court date for a misdemeanor, please contact a Minnesota criminal defense attorney right away.   What Happens If I Miss My Court Date for a Misdemeanor? Understandably, people want to know what happens if you miss a court date for a misdemeanor. Depending on the charges, you could be required to appear in court several times. Failure to show up to any of the scheduled hearings could result in the judge charging you with contempt of court or marking you as a failure to appear. You could be facing fines, jail time, and more. Possible Consequences of Missing Court Date for a Misdemeanor The consequences for missing a court date for a misdemeanor will vary depending on the circumstances and the judge. The judge will mark you as a failure to appear, and they could also order any of the following: Bench warrant—this is a warrant for your arrest, which means if the police stop you, you could be arrested; Bail revoked—the judge could revoke your bail, which means you would forfeit your original bond and remain in jail until your trial; Harsher sentence—the judge could impose a harsher sentence in your case if you failed to appear at a sentencing hearing and a negotiated plea agreement was contingent on your appearance Driver license suspension—Often used in traffic offenses, the judge could notify the DMV of your bench warrant, which could give you a deadline to resolve your case or they will suspend your license. There’s no way to know what the judge will do until you appear in court again. Please don’t risk your future by missing a court date, even for a misdemeanor, unless it’s an emergency. What Should I Do If I Just Missed My Court Date? If you just missed your court date, act quickly to show the court you are serious about your case. Waiting will only make your situation worse. If you don’t get it resolved, you could be arrested at your job, at home in front of your family, during a routine traffic stop, etc. Courts tend to be more lenient if you can show you are committed to resolving an outstanding bench warrant, rather than just ignoring it. If you do not have a lawyer on your case, you should call the court clerk’s office and ask if your case can be rescheduled to a future court calendar. This is not always possible, though. Your best option may be to hire a criminal defense lawyer to represent you and resolve the outstanding warrant. Can an Attorney Help Me? Contacting an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney is crucial in these situations. At Arechigo & Stokka, we know how best to handle a missed court date. We can immediately contact the court clerk and try to get your case rescheduled. Our goal is to minimize any legal repercussions and get your appearance rescheduled. If you missed a misdemeanor court appearance, contact our office right away. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start working with the court to get a bench warrant dismissed and your hearing rescheduled.

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Public Defender vs Private Attorney | Which Is Better?

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Being arrested and charged with a crime can be a terrifying experience. You may be thinking about legal representation and wondering what the differences are with a public defender vs private attorney. There are pros and cons to each, which is why it’s imperative to weigh your options carefully. In most cases, hiring a private attorney is better, especially if you are facing serious charges. To learn more, contact a Minnesota criminal defense attorney today. What You Get with a Public Defender One of the most common things people ask at their initial consultation is, Is it better to have a public defender or a private lawyer? With a public defender, you are represented by someone who is paid by the government. You cannot choose who your public defender is. The upside with a public defender versus private attorney is you are not paying out of pocket for legal fees. Public defenders also work with the same prosecutors regularly, so they may be well-positioned to negotiate favorable plea agreements. Unfortunately, public defenders are almost always overworked and underpaid. With a heavy caseload, you aren’t likely to get a lot of time with your attorney. You may find yourself feeling like you have not had enough time to discuss your case with your lawyer. And not everyone is eligible for a public defender. You must fill out an application asking for a public defender to represent you. A judge will review your personal financial circumstances and determine whether you qualify for a public defender. What You Get with a Private Attorney When you hire a private attorney, you can choose your own lawyer. That means you can interview multiple attorneys and find the one you connect with most. You can also choose someone with experience defending clients with charges similar to yours. With a public defender, you have no idea what types of cases they’ve handled in the past. A private attorney may have a lower caseload, and they can devote the time necessary to get a favorable outcome in your case. Usually, you will have an easier time contacting a private attorney than a public defender. The only real downside with a private attorney is the cost. You will be paying for legal fees and expenses, whereas a public defender is assigned to those who can’t afford to hire their own counsel. Why a Private Criminal Defense Attorney May Be Your Best Choice In almost every criminal matter, hiring a Minnesota criminal defense attorney is the better option. You have the benefit of an attorney who has the necessary skills and experience, and they aren’t struggling with unmanageable caseloads like most public defenders are. Your private attorney should have more time to investigate your case. Most public defenders are rushing from case to case, and may not have the time to carefully consult with each client. Serious criminal offenses require serious choices to be made during the course of the case. It’s important that you have time to talk through options with your lawyer before making impactful decisions. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Minnesota, contact Arechigo & Stokka today to schedule an initial consultation. We have over a decade of experience helping clients just like you. Let us put our knowledge and expertise to work for you and build the best defense possible.

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Understanding Minnesota Pre-Existing Conditions in a Workers’ Compensation Claim

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If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, you’re probably already experiencing the unfortunate effects.  Do you have a pre existing injury and being denied your workers compensation benefits? Read on to understand how a MN workers’ compensation attorney will be able to help you with your case. Beyond the physical pain, there are financial consequences of being unable to work and earn an income to support your household.  Plus, you will also incur medical bills for treatment, including costs related to surgery, physical therapy, pain medications, and others.  When you suffer injuries that make you unable to work in your chosen occupation, you may need to learn new skills.  For medical conditions that render you permanently disabled, you may never be able to work again. Fortunately, Minnesota’s workers’ compensation laws provide you with rights as the victim of a workplace accident.  However, the process of filing a workers’ comp claim can be daunting, especially when your employer’s insurance company denies payment on the grounds that you suffer from a pre-existing injury.  As such, you may believe you’re not eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits, but the system does cover work injuries that aggravate a nonwork-related medical condition.  A Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney can explain the legal issues and assist with the claims process. You can also read on for some important information regarding your rights. We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to setup a consultation. Why Pre-Existing Injuries Matter in a Minnesota Workers’ Comp Claim There are two key requirements you must meet to be eligible for workers’ comp: You must be a covered employee, as opposed to an independent contractor; and, Your injuries must be the result of a work-related accident, or some other workplace conditions in the case of an occupational disease. When you have a pre-existing injury, workers’ compensation rules can be complicated because of factor #2.  The line between on-the-job and non-work injuries can be blurry.  It’s common for workers’ comp insurers to deny benefits based upon any reason they can find, and a pre-existing medical condition offers a way out of their legal obligation to pay your claim.  Even when there’s scant evidence that you suffered from a condition that was exacerbated by a workplace accident, the insurer will claim that you weren’t hurt in the course of your normal job duties. As it relates to workers’ comp, a pre-existing condition is subject to a legal standard by law in Minnesota. You’re still eligible under the legal system if the work-related accident was a “substantial contributing factor” to your current medical condition.  This means you can still qualify to recover monetary benefits, such as: Your medical bills, covering your current treatment and costs you incur in the future for care; Wage replacement for lost income while you’re out of work; and, Vocational training, if your medical condition – including a pre-existing injury – makes it impossible for you to work in your current position. Your Workers’ Comp Claim and the IME When an insurance company is processing your claim, it may request that you participate in an independent medical exam (IME).  However, even though you’re seeing a doctor, the purpose is not the treatment of your injuries. Plus, the exam is typically anything BUT independent.  The physicians who conduct these exams are paid by the insurer, so their goal is to please the entity that’s paying them.  he IME is an opportunity for the insurance company to discover enough information about your pre-existing condition to justify a denial. Still, an IME is common for other reasons and it’s critical for you to keep the appointment. Failure to participate alone could be grounds for the insurer to reject your claim.  The point of the IME is to determine the nature of a pre-existing injury, and report on whether it’s an aggravation or not related to work. What to Do If You’re Denied Workers’ Comp Benefits for a Pre-Existing Injury As part of their denial of your claim, your employer’s workers’ compensation or work accident insurer will issue a Notice of Primary Liability stating your pre-existing condition as the reason.  At this point, your situation becomes highly complicated because you’ll need to ask the State of Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to reconsider liability.  Instead of trying to represent yourself in connection with the proceedings, your first order of business should be consulting with a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer that has experience in pre-existing conditions.  Your attorney will: Assist in gathering medical records that include details on any pre-existing condition; File the appropriate forms for officials to reconsider your claim; Represent you in connection with any hearings regarding your rights under workers’ compensation laws; and, Take the next steps as necessary to protect your interests. Contact a Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your Claim If you’ve been denied workers’ comp benefits or are required to participate in an IME, please contact the St. Paul, MN Workers’ Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka, P.A.  You can call 651-222-6603 or check us out online to set up a no-cost case evaluation.  We’re happy to answer your questions about workers’ comp and pre-existing conditions and provide assistance with the claims process.

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Understanding 2nd-Degree Assault in Minnesota

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An Overview of Second Degree Assault in MN Criminal assault can happen in a variety of circumstances. The types of charges vary depending on the circumstances and the severity of the harm. Second-degree assaults involve a dangerous weapon and carry serious penalties. If you are facing 2nd-degree assault charges, contact a qualified Minnesota criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal options.  MN SECOND DEGREE ASSUALT FAQ What Is Second-Degree Assault? Under Minnesota law, second-degree assault is a felony offense. Second-degree assault charges fall into two different subdivisions: Subdivision 1, assault with a dangerous weapon, and Subdivision 2, assault with a dangerous weapon that causes substantial bodily harm. A “dangerous weapon” can include numerous different objects if used as a weapon to harm another person. Dangerous weapons include: Any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded; Any combustible or flammable liquid; and Any other object that is used or intended to be used to cause great bodily harm or death. Under subdivision 2, if a person causes substantial bodily harm to another person while using a dangerous weapon, the aggressor will face heftier penalties.  Minnesota law defines “substantial bodily harm” as bodily injury that: Involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, Causes a temporary but substantial loss of function of a body part, or Causes a fractured or broken bone. It is important to remember that a person can face 2nd-degree assault charges even if substantial bodily injury does not occur. Even threatening someone with a dangerous weapon may be sufficient evidence to prove guilt. MN SECOND DEGREE ASSUALT FAQ 2nd-Degree Assault Sentences  People charged with 2nd-degree assault face felony charges and serious consequences. Under subdivision 1, if you commit an assault with a dangerous weapon, but the victim does not suffer substantial bodily injury, you may face: Jail time up to seven years, A fine of up to $14,000, or A combination of jail time and monetary fines. Second-degree assaults that cause substantial bodily harm carry harsher penalties. Subdivision 2 second-degree assault sentences include: Imprisonment of up to ten years, A fine of up to $20,000, or A combination of jail time and fines. Second-degree assault charges are very serious and can substantially disrupt your life. A criminal defense attorney can help you assess your options and figure out the best course of action. MINNESOTA SECOND DEGREE ASSUALT FAQ How Will It Affect Me?  In addition to the possible legal penalties, felony convictions can affect you long after you pay your fines and serve your jail sentence. Felony convictions may: Prevent you from securing a job, Limit your ability to find housing, and Prevent you from obtaining student loans for education expenses. Because second-degree assault charges carry such severe penalties, it is critical that you seek an experienced attorney to help you defend your interests. Your attorney can help you understand your legal options and craft a defense that improves your chances of success. MINNESOTA SECOND DEGREE ASSUALT FAQ Defenses to Second-Degree Assault Charges Depending on the facts of your case, several different defenses may be available. The most common types of defenses to second-degree assault are described below. Self-Defense and Defense of Others Self-defense is one of the most common defenses to second-degree assault. A person can claim self-defense when: The alleged victim initiated the confrontation, You reasonably believed you faced immediate bodily injury, You could not escape or retreat to a safe location, and They used only enough reasonable force to stop the attack. Defense of others is another common defense to second-degree assault. Also, defense of others is the same as self-defense except that you may use reasonable force to protect others from imminent bodily injury.  Defense of Property A person may also reasonably defend their property, but only in limited circumstances. For example, if someone steals your property, such as a wallet, directly from your person, you may use reasonable force to protect your property. Other Defenses Other types of defenses to second-degree assault include: Lack of sufficient evidence, Consent to the contact, Voluntary or involuntary intoxication, and An alibi. A strong defense can result in dismissal of all of your charges, or the defense can help reduce your criminal sentence. However, successfully proving your defense is a complex process. Working with a skilled Minnesota criminal defense attorney will improve your chances for success and help you return to your normal life as quickly as possible.  How We Got Charges Dropped for Our Client 2nd Degree Assault and Threats of Violence in Ramsey County Ramsey County Charges of 2nd Degree Assault and Threats of Violence Dismissed Before Trial THE FACTS: Client was charged in Ramsey County with separate counts of 2nd Degree Assault With a Deadly Weapon and Threats of Violence for an alleged incident that occurred in a grocery store parking lot. The complainant called the police and reported that a parking lot dispute between her vehicle and client’s vehicle allegedly resulted in client pointing a pistol at her as client drove past her vehicle. THE DEFENSE: Defense lawyer John Arechigo thoroughly investigated the alleged complaint. The investigation included obtaining video security recordings from the grocery store. The video recordings captured the interaction between the complainant and client. The video recording established that the complainant’s allegations were questionable, at best. Through additional discussions with the client and investigators, criminal defense lawyer John Arechigo was able to establish that his client did not have the type of firearm described by the complainant. Additional discussions with the state convinced the Ramsey County prosecutor that the state would not be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. The state prosecutor recognized the lack of evidence to support the charges and conceded its inability to present sufficient evidence to a jury at a trial. The state dismissed all charges at a pre-trial hearing. THE RESULT: Client’s felony charges of 2nd Degree Assault and Threats of Violence were dismissed. MINNESOTA SECOND DEGREE ASSUALT FAQ Should I Hire an Attorney? Experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorneys understand...

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