First Degree Murder Defenses

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Being arrested and charged with an allegation of Murder in the First Degree carries the potential to forever change a life.  Personal relationships and individual freedom are very much literally on the line. However, it’s important to understand the paramount rule of the US criminal justice system: an arrest isn’t the same as a conviction, and you’re not guilty unless a prosecutor proves it beyond a reasonable doubt.  There are several defenses to murder, and one or more of them may present a strong strategy for fighting the charges – or reducing them to a lesser crime. Time is of the essence to discuss your circumstances with a Minnesota homicide defense attorney.  You have a greater advantage when you retain legal representation as early as possible in the criminal proceedings. Some important information on your defense options may also help you understand that your situation is possibly not as grim as you think. Attack the Prosecution’s Allegations Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is an extremely heavy burden for the prosecutor, who must establish every essential element of first-degree murder, including: A willful intent to take a human life; and, Premeditated deliberation to kill, which could range from a split-second thought to a long period of planning. In addition, Minnesota’s statute covers a wide range of conduct generally categorizes as the “felony murder” rule.  The State of Minnesota can file a first-degree murder charge if someone is killed during the commission or attempted commission of a separate felony, even if the death wasn’t intended. The first line of attack in fighting murder charges is gathering as much information to refute one or both of the elements that the prosecutor must establish. An inkling of a doubt or question in the minds of the jury could result in an acquittal.  Defenses to Murder Though you may be unsuccessful in disproving the allegations as set forth by the prosecution, you still have ample opportunity when it’s your turn to present your case-in-chief. There are multiple options available as “complete” defenses, which means you’re acquitted if you’re successful. Self-Defense This falls under Minnesota’s statute on Authorized Use of Force, which allows a reasonable amount of force under certain circumstances. You could be able to beat first-degree murder charges if you were trying to protect yourself from the victim.  To claim self-defense in a first-degree murder case, you need to show: That you didn’t engage in any aggression yourself; You believed that you were in imminent danger of being killed or sustaining great bodily harm; Your belief was reasonable under the circumstances; AND, There was no opportunity for you to retreat to a safe location where you could avoid the threat. With respect to #4, you may recognize this element as a “stand your ground” concept, a rule which Minnesota does NOT follow. This is why you have a duty to retreat from the violent encounter before using deadly force. If you’re unable to get away, only then can you engage in deadly force and claim self-defense to fight the charges. The Innocence of the Underlying Felony In a case where you’re charged with felony murder for killing someone in connection with committing a felony, there’s a defense if you’re not guilty of the underlying crime. Insanity This defense is closely associated with the intent element of a first-degree murder charge. You need to prove that you suffer from some medical condition that: Renders you unable to understand what you were doing; Makes you incapable of knowing right from wrong; Leads you to act on uncontrollable impulses; or, A combination of all these issues. In addition, you should keep in mind that there are other defenses that are partial in nature. This means that you don’t completely beat the charges and gain an acquittal. Instead, successful use of the defense means you can have the charges lowered, such as to Murder in the Second or Third Degree.  Schedule a Consultation with a Minnesota Murder Defense Lawyer Right Away For more information on defenses to murder and potential strategies for fighting the charges, please contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. to speak with our criminal defense lawyer.  You can set up a free consultation at our St. Paul, MN office by calling 651-222-6603 or visiting our website. Our attorneys fight for the rights of clients throughout Minnesota and North Dakota in both federal and state court, so we’re prepared to take on your defense.

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Understanding 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. 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. 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 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. The 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’ comp 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’ comp 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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