Equipment Malfunction at Work: What to Know

    | Read Time: 3 minutes

As an employee, your employer must provide you with a safe work environment. In some situations, a careless manufacturer puts workers at risk. Every day, equipment malfunctions place many individuals at risk for severe machine injuries. If injured due to an equipment malfunction, it is crucial to promptly speak to a personal injury attorney and discuss your rights. You may have a right to seek workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries.  What Is the Most Common Injury Caused by Working Machines Unsafely? Various injuries may result from equipment malfunction at work. Some of these accidents may result in severe and permanent injuries affecting your ability to work in the future. Some common machine injuries caused by equipment malfunction include the following: Crush Hazards. When two heavy objects move toward each other, they create a crush hazard. In some accidents caused by this type of machinery, the machine injuries occur when a body part comes into contact with the moving parts. Shear Hazards. Shearing machines cut and punch heavy-duty materials. Many workers suffer severe injuries when a body part comes into contact with the blade or other part of the shearing machine. Nip Hazards. Conveyor belts represent a common type of machine causing nip hazards. When one or more rotating parts come into contact with a body part, this may result in devastating injuries.  People operating heavy machinery suffer severe injuries every year, including amputation, lacerations, abrasions, and crushing injuries. Fatalities may also occur as a result of equipment malfunction. Many machine injuries render workers unable to work and provide for their families. An experienced personal injury attorney works to obtain the benefits you deserve, so you may continue to provide for your family. Additionally, these benefits enable you to focus on your recovery, so you can get back to work. What Is Workers’ Compensation?  Workers’ compensation provides workers with multiple benefits when rendered unable to work due to injury or illness. These benefits include the following.  Wage-Loss Benefits Wage-loss benefits serve to compensate an injured worker for lost income due to a work-related injury. These benefits typically pay a percentage of a worker’s total wage without tax consequences. Many also refer to these benefits as disability benefits. The severity of your injuries determines what benefits you receive and for how long. Medical Benefits  Medical benefits simply serve to reimburse a person for medical bills expended due to their work-related injury. Medical benefits include coverage for the following expenses: Medications,  Nursing home care,  Hospitalizations, and Medical equipment. The medical benefits available depend on the length of care required due to your injuries. Vocational Rehabilitation Vocational rehabilitation includes work retraining, employment services, career counseling, and tuition for work-related continued education. You may be able to claim these benefits in situations where your injuries prevent you from returning to your previous employment.  Permanent Disability Benefits  Permanent partial and permanent total disability benefits serve to pay for the loss of your future earning ability due to your work-related injury. These may also benefit a person suffering the permanent loss or use of a body part. Benefit payments are based on a disability rating assigned to you by your doctor. Disputes arising as a result of permanent disability benefits commonly occur. Therefore, retaining a qualified personal injury attorney can help ensure you receive the benefits needed to assist you in moving on with your life.  Every workers’ compensation case includes a unique set of facts. However, many people receive a denial of their workers’ compensation claims. Without these benefits, you and your family may be left without support. Even in cases where your employer and workers’ compensation insurance company admit liability due to your machinery injuries, you may not receive the benefits you require. Disputes may arise over your entitlement to medical care, wage loss benefits, rehabilitation benefits, or permanent benefits.   Contact Us After a severe and traumatic injury due to an equipment malfunction, it is vital to contact a personal injury attorney. For over twenty years, the attorneys at Arechigo and Stokka have strived to provide the highest caliber legal representation to clients in their time of need. We work to understand each client’s circumstances and analyze the unique facts surrounding their case. Over the years, our firm has earned the trust of hundreds of clients. The attorneys at Arechigo and Stokka receive many new clients through past client referrals. Contact us today for a free consultation! Let us get to work to assist you in receiving benefits after an equipment malfunction.

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Workers’ Comp Settlements for a Back Injury in Minnesota

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Back injuries can severely disrupt your life and cause long-term health problems. Unfortunately, back injuries frequently occur in the workplace and are commonly reported for workers’ comp claims. Back pain alone costs employers almost $100 billion every year. If you suffered back injuries due to a workplace accident, an experienced Minnesota workers’ comp attorney can help you secure the compensation you need to cover the costs of your treatment.  Contact us online or call (651) 222-6603 today to get started. Common Workplace Back Injuries Back injuries commonly occur in the workplace, even in jobs requiring little or no physical labor. Back injuries can include damage to your spinal cord, muscle injuries, and damage to the nervous system. Common back injuries in the workplace include: Herniated discs, Muscle strains and sprains, Pinched nerves, Fractured vertebrae, and Degenerative disc disease. Back strains and sprains are common and can occur through even the slightest movements. In fact, many workers who complain of lower back pain spend most of their days sitting. Herniated discs are also common and particularly harmful. Our spinal cords are composed of bones called vertebrae, which are separated and cushioned by discs. These discs absorb shock when we place strain on our spinal cords through physical movements. A herniated disc occurs when the inner portion of the disc pushes out and ruptures the outer disc layer. When this happens, the ruptured disc pushes on the nerves in the spine, producing sometimes intense pain. Herniated discs can occur through a single event or over time through the degeneration of the spinal column. Common Causes of Workplace Back Injuries Back injuries in the workplace can occur through a variety of different events. Some of the most common causes of workplace back injuries include: Improper technique when lifting heavy objects, Sudden movements, Working too fast, and Repetitive motions that strain the back. Improper lifting technique commonly results in workplace back injuries. Lifting heavy objects without properly engaging the leg muscles places undue strain on the spinal cord. This often leads to back injuries such as herniated discs. Herniated disc settlements for workers’ comp may involve large payments to cover the full extent of rehabilitation and medical treatment. Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation for My Back Injury? If you suffer a workplace back injury while performing your job duties, you may be entitled to Minnesota workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation coverage normally includes: All medical costs associated with your injury, Lost wages, Disability payments, and Ongoing rehabilitation. Calculating workers’ compensation benefits is complicated. To ensure you receive a fair workers’ comp settlement for your back injury, you should speak with a qualified attorney before signing any agreement.  Can My Employer Deny My Workers’ Compensation Claim? While most workers’ compensation claims are approved, employers can deny their employees workers’ comp benefits. Your employer’s insurance company will assess whether the employer is responsible for paying for your treatment. In some cases, the insurance company may advise the employer to deny the claim. Some common reasons for denial of workers’ comp benefits include: Failing to file a claim in time, The injury did not occur in the workplace, Drugs or alcohol were involved, or The employee contributed to or caused their own injury. Denial of your workers’ comp claim is not the end of the story. An experienced attorney can help you appeal your denial and fight to receive the compensation you deserve. Contact a Qualified Minnesota Workers’ Comp Attorney Today If you suffered a workplace back injury, you should seek immediate medical attention. Untreated back injuries can lead to long-term health problems. After you receive medical treatment, contact the experienced attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka to help you handle your workers’ compensation settlements for your back injury. Our dedicated staff cares deeply about our clients, and we will always place your interests first. Our team will answer your questions and provide you hands-on legal services every step of the way. For a free consultation, call our office at (651) 222-6603 or fill out an online form today. 

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Minnesota Sexual Assault Vs Sexual Battery Laws

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Anyone accused of a sex crime will face a great deal of uncertainty and will likely have a lot of questions. The laws in this area vary from state to state, and there is a lot of misleading information on the topic. Because of this, we have tried to provide answers to some of the common questions that arise. However, because a conviction carries serious consequences, a person accused or charged with a sex crime should contact an experienced Minnesota criminal sexual conduct defense attorney as soon as possible. Assault Vs Battery Under Minnesota Law In general, assault and battery are two separate crimes in Minnesota. Typically, assault involves a threat of any violence that causes fear of physical harm. On the other hand, battery is the physical act itself. For example, a threat to punch someone is assault, while the punch is the battery.  Minnesota criminal law does not divide the two into separate crimes. In Minnesota, you can face a relatively similar criminal charge for physically attacking someone as you would if you threatened to assault someone. On the other hand, threatening violence with the intent to terrorize a person is a separate crime. There are subtle differences in the law between a threat and a physical act that can drastically change the type of criminal charge you may face. Sexual Battery Vs Sexual Assault Some states also use assault and battery to define sex crimes.  When this is the case, sexual assault typically involves less severe behavior, such as non-consensual sexual touching. Sexual battery, on the other hand, generally refers to more serious criminal behavior, up to or including rape. Minnesota Sexual Assault Laws In Minnesota, crimes of sexual assault, sexual battery, and rape are all classified as criminal sexual conduct. Criminal sexual conduct can be in the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth degree. First-degree criminal sexual conduct consists of the most serious criminal behavior, such as rape and child sexual abuse. Consent Consent is a critical determining factor in assessing whether a sexual conduct crime has been committed. It is also a common defense against such accusations. Because of this, consent (or lack of) is often a hotly debated and confusing element in a sex crime case. In Minnesota, consent is agreeing, in words or actions, to any sexual act. A prior relationship—sexual, romantic, or otherwise—by itself does not consent to any sexual act. However, the existence of a prior romantic relationship may help form the foundation for the explanation of consent as a defense to an accusation of sexual assault. Additionally, consent cannot be freely given if an individual is incapacitated or impaired in some way. For example, someone cannot always freely give consent if they have a developmental disability or mental illness. A person also cannot freely give consent when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, whether or not they chose to use them. Defenses Defenses against an accusation of criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota include innocence, insanity or mental incapacitation, mistaken age (in very limited circumstances), and, most commonly, consent.  Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in St. Paul, MN Today An accusation or conviction of a criminal sex offense is a serious matter. These crimes are aggressively prosecuted in Minnesota and should not be taken lightly. Charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, and a conviction can carry a sentence of up to thirty years imprisonment.  If you or a loved one has been accused of committing a criminal sex offense, you need a detail-oriented, accessible, and thorough attorney with experience in the area. Arechigo & Stokka has successfully defended hundreds of clients in criminal cases. Many successful defenses have involved accusations of sex crimes, including high-profile cases in this area.  We are dedicated to being there for you every step of the way and pride ourselves on the access we give our clients. Contact us online or call (651) 222-6603 today or to speak with our experienced attorneys. Read testimonials from prior clients, check out our Youtube channel, Facebook profile, or Twitter account to get to know us, and contact our firm today.

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St. Paul MN Workers Comp Attorney Fees

    | Read Time: 5 minutes

[WATCH] Tips For Making Sure Your MN Workers’ Compensation Claim is Paid Transcription: Since they’re trying to save money, insurance companies don’t like to pay out claims. Because of this, they’ll try to come up with reasons to deny or undervalue them. If you were injured at work, try your best to not give the insurance company any reason to deny your claim. Here are some tips to avoid getting your workers’ compensation benefits wrongfully denied. First, report the injury as soon as possible. State workers’ compensation laws often require you to report work injuries within 30 days. Second, gather the names of potential witnesses. If anyone witnessed your injury, get their names and contact information so they can verify your story. Third, get medical treatment immediately. Most insurance companies assume that if you don’t seek medical attention, then you weren’t really injured. Fourth, explain how you got hurt. Give details to your medical provider and the insurer about how the injury happened. We recommend having an attorney with you whenever you contact the insurance company. Fifth, fill out your employer’s accident report form. If you do not fill out an accident report with the company’s insurer, they may try to deny your claim. Sixth, sign a limited medical authorization for the insurer. This allows insurers to have copies of your medical records relating to your work injury. Seventh, attend all your doctor’s appointments. If you skip doctor’s appointments, the insurer may try to terminate your benefits. For more information about workers’ compensation claims, contact Arechigo & Stokka today. We’ve helped hundreds of workers throughout Minnesota get the benefits they deserve. St Paul, Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorney Fees Become Governed By Statute This means that unlike in, for example, a personal injury case, where the attorney has some discretion over what to charge for a fee, the Minnesota legislature heavily regulates what a Minnesota work comp attorney can charge.   There are several different types of Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer fees which we’ll explain below. Minnesota Workers’ Comp Contingency Fee This is one of the main methods for payment of Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney fees.   Minnesota Statute § 176.081, subd. 1(a) permits these fees.   For injuries from 1995 to October 2013, this section permitted a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer a fee of 25% of the first $4,000 and 20% of the next $60,000 of compensation awarded to the injured employee so long as the fees are calculated on genuinely disputed claims or portions of claims.   All fees for legal services pertaining to the same injury are cumulative and may not exceed $13,000. Fees for obtaining disputed medical or rehabilitation benefits are included in the $13,000 limit. In October 2013, the statute was amended to state that a fee for legal services of 20% of the first $130,000 of compensation awarded to the employee is the maximum permissible fee. Denied a Workers’ Compensation Claim? Call us today for a free and confidential case analysis. You can reach us at 651-222-6603, we are ready to help. We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to setup a consultation. Irwin/Roraff Fees The statute went under modification in 1995 to provide that the $13,000 limit on work comp attorney fees was the maximum possible fee for all legal services related to the same injury, including attorney fees paid for by the employer/insurer.   In Irwin v. Surdyk’s Liquor, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the limitations on attorney fees in the 1995 amendments to the Minnesota Statute were unconstitutional in that they impinged upon the court’s inherent power to oversee attorneys and attorney fees. Fees in Excess of Maximum  Under Irwin, to get a fee more than the statutory limit, the court set forth a list of factors to consider the compensation judge in the determination of Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney fees: The amount involved Time and expense necessary to prepare for trial The responsibility assumed by counsel The expertise of counsel The difficulty of the issues The nature of the proof involved The results obtained MN Workers’ Compensation Fees on Intervenor Recoveries  These are usually companies that have provided medical treatment or wage replacement benefits such as a short term disability plan. Minnesota Statute § 176.361, permits any “person” who has an interest in any matter before the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals, Commissioner or compensation judge, such that the person may either gain or lose by an order or decision, to file an application or motion to intervene.   Issues arise whether and to what extent an intervenor must contribute to the attorney fees or costs incurred in establishing the injured employee’s entitlement to Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits that result in a recovery for the intervenor.   The main case involved in this issue is Edquist v. Browning-Ferris. The St. Paul Statutory Scheme for MN Workers’ Comp Fees The Statutory Scheme That Outlines Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorney Fees Is to the Benefit of Injured Workers: A Minnesota work comp lawyer only entitles to make a claim for workers’ compensation attorney fees on genuine disputes. This means that if you hire a work comp lawyer at the beginning of your claim, and the employer/insurer does not dispute anything (wage loss, medical, etc.), the work comp attorney cannot make a claim for fees.   Also, many attorney fees and rates become paid for by an employer/insurer.   For example, if an injured worker’s doctor requests to perform an MRI, the insurer denies payment, and the Minnesota work comp lawyer succeeds in getting the MRI paid for, those fees become paid for by the insurer/employer. Because of this, it is important for an injured employee to obtain a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer at the beginning of the case for a few reasons.   One, many different time deadlines exist that you must adhere to and failure to adhere to them can adversely affect the case.   Second, if a dispute does arise, our MN workers’ comp attorney has all the information and can make a quick decision and...

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Can My Employer Contact My Doctor Without My Consent?

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Suffering from any sort of injury can put a serious damper on your life. Injuries can bring medical bills, psychological trauma, missed wages, and a number of other unsavory things with them. Workplace injuries are no exception. Luckily, in most situations, if you injure yourself at work, your employer is liable to cover any damages you suffer. Employers in the United States have a special type of insurance called workers’ compensation (often referred to as “workers’ comp”) that covers workplace injuries specifically. In fact, workers’ comp insurance is compulsory in the US. Sometimes, employers are not as forthcoming in some workers’ compensation claim processes as they are in others. After all, the more injuries that their workers’ comp insurance has to cover, the greater their insurance premiums become. As a result, if you suffer an injury at work that is not a visible emergency, your employer may not believe you. Even with a doctor’s note, employers sometimes don’t believe that you have an injury or think you are exaggerating your injury. This often happens when you discover your injury outside of work. In this situation, how do you proceed? Generally, your medical records are private, but your employer has to verify the injury somehow. Can your employer call your doctor? Can any employer call a doctor to verify a note? Read on for guidance on workers’ compensation, privacy, and your employer from the award-winning workers’ compensation team at Arechigo & Stokka. How Does HIPAA Apply to Workers’ Compensation? As noted, for the most part, our medical records are private. They are covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The HIPAA contains privacy rules that apply to certain types of individuals and legal entities. Those entities, which include medical care providers and insurers, possess confidential medical records. The aforementioned entities are only allowed to disclose medical records, without your authorization, to certain parties in specific circumstances. One of the circumstances explicitly mentioned on the CDC website is workers’ compensation.  Can My Employer Call My Doctor Directly? Generally, your employer should not contact your doctor directly. In a perfect world, your employer would find a note from your doctor enough evidence of an injury. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Your employer may still feel the need to contact your doctor, even without your authorization. The situations where a workers’ compensation insurer, state administrator, employer, or other entity involved in workers’ compensation systems can contact your doctor without authorization are as follows: As authorized by and to the extent necessary to comply with laws relating to workers’ compensation; If such a disclosure is required by any other state or federal law; To obtain payment for any health care provided to the injured or ill worker. As you can see, these situations may very well apply to your employer and their insurer when they need to verify an injury for purposes of workers’ compensation. So yes, your employer or their insurer can sometimes directly contact your doctor without your authorization. You can always directly authorize your employer to contact your doctor. If that is what you choose to do, you will need to give your doctor the name of the person you are authorizing to contact them. Can My Employer Call My Doctor and Access the Entirety of My Medical Records? No. The information that an entity covered by the HIPAA privacy rules can disclose in the aforementioned situations is limited. The HIPAA requires that covered entities only disclose the minimum medical information necessary to accomplish the workers’ compensation purposes. This includes the minimum amount of information necessary for payment purposes. Thus, your employer should have access to very specific, minimal information contained in your medical record. A HIPAA violation would occur if your employer were to access the entirety of your medical records.  Does My Employer Have to Follow My Doctor’s Orders? Yes, your employer absolutely has to follow your doctor’s orders. It is critical that your employer do so. Not only can your employer face fines otherwise, but your injury may worsen and they may end up with a lawsuit on their hands. After your initial treatment, your doctor will put together a recovery plan for your injury. The recovery plan will include what sort of work, if any, that you are authorized to do while recovering. If your employer can accommodate you at a different position in the workplace, they should do so. If your injury worsens or you become unable to do the new job you were given, it is critical that you contact your doctor as soon as possible to update your work authorization and recovery plan. For Help With Your Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Claim For help with any aspect of your Minnesota workers’ compensation claim, go with Arechigo & Stokka—the small firm that gets big results. There is no room for error in your claim, so there is no substitute for experience. Our workers’ compensation team has decades of experience helping injured individuals recover as quickly as possible and maximize their workers’ compensation benefits in the process. If you suffered an injury at work, don’t wait to get legal help. Reach out to us at Arechigo & Stokka for a free consultation regarding your workers’ compensation claim today.

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Juvenile Record Expungement: Do Felonies Committed as a Minor Go Away?

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Everybody has a lapse in judgment every once in a while. Children experience lapses in judgment all the time, but a mistake made as a child should not follow someone around for the rest of their life. The truth is, good kids make mistakes. The Minnesota government recognizes this and aims to ensure that children’s lives are not ruined by criminal convictions. To achieve that aim, the criminal records of minors are subject to different rules than the criminal records of adults.   In most instances, the law automatically takes childhood crimes off a criminal record after 10 years, but not always. Minnesota has specific rules surrounding the process. This may, however, bring up more questions than it answers. Some of the questions you might have at this point include: If you get a felony as a minor does it go away when you turn 18? Do juvenile records get erased? What is juvenile record expungement?  In this piece, the team at Arechigo & Stokka answers those questions and explains the rules surrounding the criminal records of minors, expungement, and felonies committed as a minor. Why the Legal System Treats Minors Differently Than Adults Governments all around the world recognize that children are continuously developing. As a result, children do not yet have the same faculties or capacities as adults. Recognizing this, governments worldwide do not grant the same civil, political, and economic rights to children as they do to adults. In tandem, children also do not typically have the same obligations as adults in a given country or state. For example, minors do not have the right to do things like vote, own a gun, or join the military. This logic applies to criminal law just as much as it applies to a person’s right to vote. In most countries and all US states, the law does not prosecute minors for crimes the same way as adults. In many instances, minors below a specific age cannot face a criminal charge at all. The law calls the age at which the state can certify a juvenile for adult prosecution of a felony the “age of criminal responsibility.” Different states and countries apply different age thresholds and specific rules regarding the criminal prosecution of minors. But prosecuting children differently than adults is ubiquitous throughout the country and world. In Minnesota, the age of criminal responsibility is 14 years old.  What Is Expungement? In the dictionary, to expunge is to erase or remove something completely. In criminal law, expungement describes the process where a judge seals someone’s criminal record, in whole or in part, from public records. The result of the expungement of a criminal conviction is that there is no public record of it. It is as if the conviction never happened. Expungement doesn’t stop at convictions. An expungement also includes arrest records themselves. Through expungement, an arrest record goes away regardless of whether or not someone was convicted of the crime. Only a judge can expunge a crime from someone’s record. Expungement of Minor Records In Minnesota, there is a general expungement rule for minors. The law automatically expunges the criminal record of a minor 10 years after a conviction. However, this automatic expungement only occurs if there are no arrests or criminal convictions in the intervening 10 years. For felony convictions, expungement does not happen automatically. Instead, those wanting an expungement of their record for a felony committed as a minor must petition the courts to do so. Expungement of Felonies for Minors in Minnesota Minnesota can charge minors with felonies for crimes like robbery, distribution of drugs, and sex crimes. Even those crimes can be expunged, but only in specific circumstances. To expunge a felony charge from one’s record, one must petition a judge for the expungement. In making the determination, the judge will consider whether: The charges were dismissed; The individual was not convicted or found guilty of the crime; or The individual did not plead guilty to the criminal charges. If your case meets any of these three criteria, a judge can expunge your felony record. But even if a court found a child guilty of a felony, a judge can expunge the charge at their discretion. And while expungement in Minnesota applies to state records, it does not apply to federal records. Do You Have a Criminal Record for a Crime You Committed As a Minor? Whether you have a felony or misdemeanor charge, if you want to have your juvenile criminal record expunged there is no substitute for an experienced criminal defense attorney. Whatever your situation is, the defense attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka can help. Our team has helped countless individuals who committed crimes as minors expunge their records so they can put their past behind them. We know that people make mistakes and firmly believe that everyone deserves a second chance. Don’t let your juvenile criminal record follow you around for the rest of your life. Contact the defense attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka for a free consultation on your Minnesota expungement case today!

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What Are the Minnesota Indecent Exposure Laws?

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Receiving any sort of criminal conviction can bring numerous consequences. Some criminal convictions, of course, are worse than others. And the worse the crime is, the more severe the consequences. Minnesota prosecutes sex crimes at several different levels that sometimes carry unique consequences. Notably, some sex offenses require a person to officially register as a sex offender. Because it is prosecuted as a sexual offense, anyone accused of indecent exposure in Minnesota should understand the rules and consequences surrounding it. If you are wondering, Is indecent exposure a felony? Or you may wonder what sort of public indecency penalty exists. Let the defense team at Arechigo & Stokka break down the rules and consequences surrounding indecent exposure in MN. What Is Indecent Exposure in Minnesota? When you think of indecent exposure, you might picture a streaker running onto a football field or someone at the beach without a top on.  But do these situations actually qualify as indecent exposure in Minnesota? To answer this question we need to look at Minnesota Statute 617.23 on indecent exposure. According to the statute, the state can prosecute someone for indecent exposure at three levels—misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony. All three levels require that the act occurs either in a public place or a place where others are present. But please note that Minnesota cannot charge a breastfeeding woman with indecent exposure. The Indecent Exposure Statute Explained At its least severe level, Minnesota prosecutes indecent exposure as a misdemeanor. If the “public” requirement is met, there are three acts that qualify: Willfully and lewdly exposing one’s body or private parts; or Persuading or coercing another person to expose their own private parts; or Engaging in any open or gross lewdness or lascivious behavior, or any public indecency that does not specifically appear in this rule. The same three options also apply to indecent exposure when charged as a gross misdemeanor and as a felony. In those instances, however, there are additional qualifications. Indecent Exposure As a Gross Misdemeanor For the state to pursue an indecent exposure infraction as a gross misdemeanor, one’s actions must first occur in the presence of others and fulfill one of the three options noted in the previous paragraph. In addition, the individual must commit the act either: In the presence of a minor under 16 years of age; or Have a prior conviction for indecent exposure; or Have a prior conviction for another sexual offense. There are many other sexual offenses that Minnesota can charge an individual with. In fact, there are five lengthy Minnesota criminal sexual conduct statutes. Each of them qualifies as a sexual offense and will aggravate a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge to a gross misdemeanor if on one’s criminal record. The same applies to similar convictions from states other than Minnesota. Indecent Exposure As a Felony Finally, at its most severe level, Minnesota can prosecute indecent exposure as a felony. There are two routes to a felony indecent exposure charge. First, felony indecent exposure occurs when someone’s public actions meet any of the aforementioned qualifications in the presence of a minor and while having a prior conviction (or adjudication as a minor) for a sexual offense. Second, felony indecent exposure occurs when someone, publicly or around others, intentionally exposes their private parts to another while confining or otherwise restricting that person’s movement. The Importance of Intent Indecent exposure is often a tricky crime to prosecute. That is because an essential element of all indecent exposure charges is that the prosecution must demonstrate that someone intentionally exposed themselves. Depending on the circumstances, one’s intent can be difficult to establish. Many people’s actions meet the basic requirements for indecent exposure save for intent, so false accusations are not uncommon. For example, suppose the wind blows open someone’s robe while bringing their trash cans in from the curb. This may expose their body to others, but because it is unintentional it does not constitute indecent exposure. As it happens, lack of intent is one of the most common defenses against indecent exposure charges. Our Examples Now, let’s go back to the examples noted at the beginning of this section. We can see now that both of those actions would likely qualify as misdemeanor indecent exposure offenses. Someone not wearing a swimsuit at a public beach would expose their private parts to others on the beach without question. However, if their swimsuit fell off by accident, indecent exposure would not apply. Someone streaking across a football field would also meet the qualifications for an indecent exposure misdemeanor charge. The entire intention behind streaking at a sporting event is to expose one’s self in public. Finally, we should note that if minors under the age of 16 were present in either of these situations, the individual might face a gross misdemeanor indecent exposure charge.  Penalties for an Indecent Exposure Conviction in MN The penalties differ depending on what level the state prosecutes an indecent exposure charge. In general, one may face public indecency fines, jail time, or both, at the following levels: Misdemeanor: Up to 90 days in jail, up to $1,000 fine, or both; Gross Misdemeanor: Up to 365 days in jail, up to $3,000 fine, or both; or Felony: Sex offender registration, up to 5 years in prison, up to $10,000 fine, or both. Having to register as a sex offender can affect many aspects of your life. It can limit where the law allows you to live, to work, and who you can work with. One thing is clear from these penalties: Minnesota can severely punish those convicted of indecent exposure at any level. Are You Facing a Minnesota Indecent Exposure Accusation? A Minnesota indecent exposure charge can severely impact the trajectory of your life. If you face such an accusation, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced sex crime attorney to help you fight the charge. The defense attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka know how daunting these accusations can feel. With the help...

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Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Guide

    | Read Time: 6 minutes

Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Assisting Clients in Minnesota If you are injured on the job in Minnesota and cannot return to work due to the severity of your injury, you may be eligible to file a claim for Minnesota workers’ compensation. Under Minnesota law, most workers who sustain serious injuries or illnesses in the course of their employment are eligible to seek Minnesota work comp benefits. However, there are some exceptions to the rule, and there are very specific guidelines that govern when and how an injured worker must file a claim. Filing a workers’ comp MN claim can be extremely complicated, and there are various reasons that your claim can be denied. With the help of a workers’ compensation MN attorney, you can ensure that you take all necessary steps in the initial process of filing your claim. If you have already filed a claim and are facing a denial of benefits, one of the dedicated attorneys at our firm can assist with your appeal. Do not hesitate to get in touch or call (651) 222-6603 to speak with the experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka to learn how we can assist with your case. [DOWNLOAD] Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Free Guide What is Workers’ Compensation in Minnesota? Workers’ compensation insurance is a type of insurance that most employers in Minnesota are required to carry, and it can provide coverage to employees who sustain illnesses or injuries on the job. When an employee gets hurt at work or as a result of his or her employment, that employee can file a workers’ compensation claim in order to seek benefits. Typically, Minnesota workers’ compensation coverage can compensate an injured employee for a portion of his or her lost wages, as well as medical coverage for the injuries, suffered on the job. Injuries must be work-related injuries, or arise out of the course of employment, in order to be eligible for coverage. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (MDLI) defines a work-related injury as “any condition that is caused, aggravated, or accelerated by employment activities.” Traumatic injuries, gradual injuries, and occupational diseases all may be covered by workers’ comp. For example, an injury that happens on a job site typically will be covered. If a worker drives a vehicle as part of his or her job duties, then injuries sustained in a traffic crash also may arise out of the worker’s job and may be covered by workers’ comp. However, injuries sustained in a crash on the way to work will not be eligible for workers’ comp MN coverage. MINNESOTA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION REQUIREMENTS FAQ Mandatory Coverage: Who is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Minnesota? Generally speaking, most employers in Minnesota are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. To be clear, Minnesota has what is known as mandatory coverage when it comes to workers’ comp. As such, most employers who hire other people to perform services are required to buy workers’ compensation coverage or self-insurance. Even employers who only hire minors or non-citizens are required to have workers’ compensation coverage under the mandatory coverage provisions. In some cases, even volunteers are covered by workers’ comp. However, there are some exceptions. Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Exceptions While these exceptions are limited mostly to certain small business situations, the following are some examples of employers who may be exempt from purchasing workers’ compensation insurance under Minnesota law: Sole Proprietors If a person is a sole proprietor of a business, that small business owner is not required to have workers’ compensation coverage for herself or for close family members working in the business (such as children, a spouse, or parents). However, it is important to be clear that a sole proprietor is required to have workers’ compensation coverage for other employees. Partnerships Businesses that are structured as partnerships, similar to sole proprietorships, tend to be exempt from coverage for the partners and for close relatives of the partners who are employees of the business. Executive Officers in Closely Held Corporations In some closely held corporations, an executive officer is exempt from workers’ compensation coverage. However, numerous requirements must be met in order for the executive officer to be exempt. Managers in LLCs Managers of limited liability companies (LLCs) are, in some situations, exempt from mandatory coverage for workers’ compensation. Other parties may be exempt, and it is important to confirm with an experienced workers’ comp MN lawyer whether coverage is mandatory. Just because a person is exempt does not mean that the person cannot elect to provide workers’ compensation coverage. If an employer is exempt but elects to provide coverage, then any employees who are covered can be eligible to file a claim. Types of Disability Benefits Provided By Workers’ Compensation Workers’ compensation benefits tend to provide compensation for four different types of disability benefits: Temporary Total Disability Temporary total disability means your injury prevents you from returning to work in any capacity, but you are expected to recover (at least in part) from your injury. Temporary total disability benefits, or TTD benefits, pay two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wage with a maximum of the 2019 statewide average weekly wage (SAWW) of $1,112.00. Typically, TTD benefits are paid for a maximum of 130 weeks. In some cases where an employee is in a vocational rehabilitation program, TTD benefits can be extended. Temporary Partial Disability Temporary partial disability means your injury prevents you from returning to work in your full capacity, yet you are able to return to work in a part-time or modified capacity. You are also expected to recover from your injuries. Compensation is two-thirds of the difference between your earnings if you were at full capacity and your modified earnings. TPD benefits typically are available for a maximum of 225 weeks. Permanent Partial Disability Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are designed for injured workers who suffer a permanent disability, but your disability does not prevent you from working entirely. For example, most permanent partial disability benefits involve the loss of...

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What Are Minnesota Statutory Rape Laws?

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Facing any criminal charge is a difficult situation to find yourself in. A criminal conviction can follow you around for the rest of your life and complicate simple things like getting a loan or a job. However, some crimes can have more of an impact than others. A conviction for statutory rape or any other sexual criminal offense can impact your life far more than a theft or shoplifting conviction.  If you face a statutory rape accusation, you are probably wondering, What is statutory rape? or, How long is a statutory rape sentence? Read on to find the answers to these and other questions about Minnesota’s statutory rape laws from our Minnesota criminal defense attorney. What Is the Difference Between Rape and Statutory Rape? The general colloquial definition of rape is engaging in sexual acts without the consent of one or more of the parties involved. Statutory rape is different in that both parties to the sexual act in question may technically consent to it. Still, because of the relevant laws (or statutes), it is illegal and a criminal offense. Statutory rape is a crime because one of the parties involved is not yet at the age of consent. “Age of consent” refers to the age that one must be in order to legally consent to sexual acts. Below that age, consent is not possible. Just like it is illegal for minors to possess firearms, it is illegal for persons under the age of consent to engage in sexual activity. The age of consent differs between states but is generally age 15 or older. In Minnesota, the age of consent is 16 years old. What Is Statutory Rape in Minnesota? Minnesota prosecutes stautory rape at one of four degrees of sexual conduct. The most severely penalized level is first degree sexual misconduct while the least severe is fourth degree sexual misconduct.  Here, we will look into the legal definitions of each of the four levels. In the legal definitions there are two important terms that we must understand.  The first term is “sexual penetration.” Minnesota law states that sexual penetration includes oral sex, anal sex, and vaginal sex. Whenever a part of one person’s body penetrates a part of another person’s body, sexual penetration occurs.  We also need to know how Minnesota defines someone “in a position of authority over the minor.” Someone holds a position of authority over a minor when they are a parent or otherwise responsible for a minor’s supervision, wellbeing, or health. People in positions of authority over minors include teachers, babysitters, and parents. Fourth Degree Fourth degree statutory rape occurs when criminial sexual conduct occurs between a defendant and another person and one or more other criteria is met: The minor is under 13 years old and the defendant is no more than 36 months older than the minor; The minor is older than 13 years old, but under 16, and the defendant is more than 48 months older than the minor or is in a position of authority over the minor; or The minor is more than 16 years old, but less than 18 years old, and the defendant is in a position of authority over the minor and more than 48 months older than the minor. If someone’s actions meet any of the latter three conditions in addition to sexual conduct between two individuals, the state can charge the defendant with fourth degree statutory rape. Third Degree Third degree statutory rape occurs when someone engages in sexual penetration with a minor and one or more of the following criteria is met: The minor is less than 13 years old, and the defendant is no more than 36 months older than them; The minor is more than 13 years old, but under 16, and the defendant is more than 24 months older than them; or The minor is more than 16 years old, but under 18, and the defendant is in a position of authority over the minor at the time of the incident and more than 48 months older than them. The key determining factor between third and fourth degree statutory rape in Minnessota is whether or not penetration occurs. Second Degree Second degree statutory rape occurs in Minnesota when a person engages in sexual conduct that stops short of penetration with certain classes of minors. The relevant classes of minors are as follows: A minor less than 13 years old when the perpetrator is 36 months or more older than the minor; or A minor more than 13 years old yet less than 16 years old when the perpetrator is greater than 48 months older than the minor and in a position of authority over them. By now, you should notice that the severity tends to depend on two factors: the age gap between the defendant and the victim and whether the sexual act included penetration. First Degree First degree statutory rape is the most severe category of statutory rape. First degree statutory rape occurs when sexual penetration occurs between: A minor more than 13 years old and less than 16 years old when the perpetrator is more than 48 months older than the victim and in a position of authority over them; or A minor who is less than 13 years old and a perpetrator who is more than 36 months older than the victim. Anybody whose actions meet the threshold of first or any other degree of statutory rape meets the legal requirements for a criminal statutory rape conviction in Minnesota.  Statutory Rape Penalties The potential penalties for a statutory rape conviction in Minnesota are severe. A fourth degree statutory rape conviction can lead to up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both. On the other end of the spectrum, first-degree statutory rape convictions can bring up to 30 years imprisonment, $40,000 in fines, or both. There are other potential penalties for statutory rape, including sex offender registration, restrictions on where one can live,...

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What Is Conditional Release in St. Paul, MN?

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Anybody who faces criminal charges should know about conditional release, but what does conditional release mean? What is a conditional release from prison?  In the context of criminal law, conditional release can refer to two situations. First, criminal release can refer to a situation where someone faces a criminal accusation and is arrested but, upon arraignment, is released from incarceration during the pre-trial period. Second, conditional release refers to an extended period of supervision that people charged with certain crimes are subject to after they serve their jail or prison time. In both situations, the release of someone from incarceration hinges on certain conditions. The conditions differ to some degree. However, in both situations, the conditions for release are typically similar. The general condition for someone to maintain their conditional release is to stay out of trouble. If you are out on conditional release, further criminal charges will almost certainly violate your release conditions and lead to further incarceration.  Pretrial Conditional Release The Minnesota conditional release law most relevant for pretrial conditional release is in the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure. According to Rule 6.02, a judge should release anyone appearing before a criminal court at an arraignment from their incarceration, without bail, pending their criminal trial. The rule goes on to state that this release should happen unless the release will endanger public safety or there is a reasonable expectation that the defendant will not appear at their trial. When Pretrial Conditional Release Is Possible If a judge determines that the pretrial release of a defendant will endanger public safety or that there is a risk that they will not appear in court, the Minnesota conditional release statute provides instructions on what to do to mitigate those risks. The instructions say that a judge can require some combination of four things to mitigate the risk of flight or the danger to public safety: First, the judge can impose travel, residence, or association restrictions; Second, the judge can place the defendant under the supervision of another person or organization if they agree to such supervision; Third, the judge can securitize the defendant’s appearance in court with a bail bond or other security; or Finally, the judge can impose other necessary conditions to ensure that the defendant appears in court. Judges have discretion as to which of these mitigating factors to employ in a given case. Prosecutors can argue for more stringent mitigating factors or argue against pretrial conditional release entirely. Thus, the help of a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney is essential in the fight for pretrial conditional release. Conditions for Pretrial Release The conditions one has to follow to maintain their pretrial conditional release are relatively simple. On top of the two basic conditions of not committing crimes and appearing at a scheduled court date, the conditions are whatever the judge imposes. A combination of anything on the aforementioned list is possible, which includes “any other necessary conditions.” Other conditions may include things like staying within the state or not associating with certain people. The state can revoke a defendant’s pretrial conditional release if they fail to abide by conditions of their release. Conditional Release From Prison Conditional release from prison differs entirely from pretrial conditional release. Instead of a privilege, conditional release from prison is a burden. It is an extra term of imposed supervision the court imposes in addition to one’s prison sentence. During the conditional release period, the Minnesota Department of Corrections continues to supervise those convicted of a specific crime. Conditions for Conditional Release From Prison There are quite a few different Minnesota conditional release statutes relevant to conditional release from prison. Each of the statutes corresponds with a specific crime or crimes. The conditions for a defendant’s conditional release from incarceration differ depending on the crime that the defendant is convicted of and reflect that crime’s specific societal harms and risks. Some of the criminal charges subject to conditional release from prison include: First degree (felony) driving while impaired; Predatory offense registration violation committed by certain sexual offenders; Assault in the fourth degree against secure treatment facility personnel; First through fourth degree criminal sexual conduct and criminal sexual predatory conduct; and Possession of pornographic work involving minors. Each of these crimes comes with various potential conditions for release. For example, a condition for someone convicted of possession of pornographic work involving minors will likely include no contact with minors or only supervised visits with their children. Alternatively, someone convicted of first-degree-felony driving while impaired may have their license suspended for a few years or be required to use an ignition interlock device. The conditions for one’s conditional release from prison will always reflect the specific crime that they are convicted of.   If You Need Help with Conditional Release Whether you need pre-trial assistance or post-conviction legal advice on conditional release in Minnesota, your best course of action is enlisting the help of an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney. Our team at Arechigo & Stokka has over twenty years of experience fighting for the rights of Minnesotans caught in the net of the criminal justice system. You have a right to a fair trial. Let us help ensure that the state respects that right. Contact Arechigo & Stokka today!

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