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

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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, charges can potentially be reduced or eliminated. If you face drug possession charges, we strongly recommend that you contact us as soon as possible. What Are 5th Degree Drug Charges?  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 the substance was being sold or manufactured. 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 arrested 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 arrested 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 possessed 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. 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 have been dropped or reduced 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. 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.

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What is a Downward Departure?

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If you face a conviction for a felony offense, you may worry about sentencing requirements. Minnesota uses a formula known as sentencing guidelines to determine recommended sentences for felony crimes. Guideline sentences are not mandatory, but they are presumptive. While a judge is supposed to follow the guidelines, you still have options for a lighter sentence. In some cases, a judge can use discretion to reduce the severity level of your conviction. This concept, called downward departure, happens when a judge departs from required sentencing guidelines and chooses to impose a lesser sentence using a downward departure. The judge may have many reasons for a downward departure, such as a first-time offense or extenuating circumstances. A good criminal defense attorney attempts to persuade a judge to use lighter sentencing. If you think lighter sentencing should apply to your case, you may ask, “What is a downward departure?” To understand legal options for Minnesota sentencing, you should know a few things about a downward departure. Here, we will discuss the following to help you gain a better understanding of downward departure: What are Minnesota sentencing guidelines? What sentencing factors does a judge consider? Why would a judge choose to grant a downward departure? Hear it From an Expert – John Arechigo – 2019 Attorney of the Year John Arechigo, a practicing criminal defense attorney in St. Paul, explains what you should know about downwards departures. Recently, John Arechigo was named the 2019 Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer. He sheds some useful insight based on his years of experience within the criminal defense. So, before deciding to hire any criminal defense attorney to consider if you are hiring an attorney with the experience you need to get the court ruling you deserve. What Are Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines? Sentencing guidelines are common across the United States. As lawmakers realized some offenders received unfair sentences, they began writing sentencing guidelines. These guidelines give a judge suggested or mandatory sentences for each crime. Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines first went into effect in 1980 and continue to be revised and renewed. The latest guidelines went into effect in August of 2019. The sentencing guidelines seek to promote consistent sentencing and public safety while reducing judicial bias factors. Different Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines are used for “standard” offenses, sex offenses, and drug offenses and outline minimum and maximum sentences using a grid system that accounts for a person’s prior criminal history and the severity of the current sentencing offense. The sentencing guidelines are advisory to the court, meaning they are not mandatory. The guidelines allow a judge to depart from suggested sentencing when “substantial and compelling circumstances” arise. It is a criminal defense attorney’s job to effectively convince a judge that such compelling circumstances apply to your case. What Sentencing Factors Does a Judge Consider? Downward departure means an offender receives a more lenient sentence than the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines recommend. Judges consider the following factors before allowing a downward departure sentence. Public safety. This is the primary factor in downward departure sentencing. A judge wants to protect the public from crime. Retribution. This sentencing element punishes the offender for their crime. The severity of the retribution should be proportional to the seriousness of the offense and the offender’s prior criminal record. Incapacitation. This sentencing goal takes away an offender’s ability to commit future crimes by keeping the offender in prison. Deterrence. This element attempts to deter criminal behavior by the threat of harsh sentencing. In theory, if a judgment is too light it may not deter people from committing additional crimes in the future. Restitution. This objective tries to pay the victim or society back for the harm done. Restitution comes in three forms: monetary, community service, and service to victims. Offenders with short criminal histories who committed non-violent crimes might be eligible for restitution, like community service. Rehabilitation. This goal seeks to reform the convicted individual in an effort to eliminate future offenses upon release from prison. Rehabilitation services include substance abuse, education, and mental health services. Some prisons may not have rehabilitation services. The absence of rehabilitation resources does not justify a longer prison sentence. A judge balances these factors when determining whether a downward departure is appropriate for an offender. Why Would a Judge Choose Downward Departure? A judge can depart from suggested sentencing grids in two ways: Aggravated Durational Departure. This occurs when a judge orders a sentence at least 20 percent higher than the sentence in the grid. Mitigated Durational Departure. This occurs when the court orders a sentence that is more than 15 percent lower than that suggested on the grid. Your criminal defense attorney will argue for substantial and compelling circumstances that necessitate a mitigated durational departure. This is a significant downward departure. This means your sentence will become at least 15 percent lighter than sentencing guidelines suggest. A plea bargain is a form of a downward departure. A plea bargain involves a defendant pleading guilty for a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter sentence. This moves the case through the court quickly and spares a defendant from facing a maximum sentence. Another situation that may invite downward departure sentences is when a defendant cooperates with the prosecuting attorney. This could mean that the defendant provides information that helps the prosecution with their case. The defendant could assist with the current case or another case, causing the prosecution to request a downward departure sentence. A judge may also consider reasons for a downward departure in these situations: The defendant was an accomplice to the crime. The defendant didn’t understand the criminal nature of the act. The defendant has a mental disorder that requires specialized treatment. The victim initiated or provoked the crime. The defendant committed the crime under duress. The defendant was too young to understand the consequences of criminal behavior. The need for restitution to the victim is greater than the need for prison time. After applying a downward departure sentence, the judge completes a departure report explaining...

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Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Laws

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When you’re going about your day at work and performing job-related tasks, the last thing you expect is to suffer injuries in a workplace accident. However, statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that these incidents are more common than you think. According to a report on State Occupational Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities for 2017, there were 72,500 recordable cases in Minnesota regarding medical conditions resulting from work-related activities. The implications extend far beyond the physical pain and into financial consequences, as employees experienced 36,600 days away from work. Fortunately, Minnesota workers’ compensation laws protect employees who are unable to work because of illness or injury. Monetary benefits are available, though they’re not automatic. You must successfully navigate the claims process, which can be complicated. To increase your chances of quick approval and prompt payment, it’s wise to retain a Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney for assistance. A summary of the relevant laws may also be helpful. Legal Obligations for Minnesota Employers Under MN workers’ compensation laws, all employers must procure insurance policies to cover the losses of eligible employees who suffer from work-related ailments. As such, your first step in seeking monetary benefits is filing a claim with the worker’s comp insurance company. You don’t have to prove that your employer was at fault, but you must meet strict eligibility rules to qualify. Eligibility Under MN Workers’ Comp Laws The primary consideration for purposes of qualifying for benefits is your status. Most workers will be eligible, even those that are part-time. The exception is for individuals who work as independent contractors, as separate from the employer’s business. The second key to qualifying for workers’ comp benefits is the incident or work-related factors that led to your medical condition. Both injuries and occupational illnesses are covered by state laws. Aside from eligibility, you should note that there are deadlines and time restrictions you must obey to ensure you get the workers’ comp benefits you deserve. You need to inform your employer within 14 days after a workplace accident, or you could lose your rights. Benefits for Qualifying Employees If you qualify, there are multiple monetary benefits you may be entitled to receive: The costs of medical care, including all treatment, equipment, supplies, and transportation expenses to and from appointments; Lost wages, which are a percentage of your income that you lose because of being unable to work; and, Vocational rehabilitation, to provide training, education, and other support if you need to move into another occupation because of your injuries. In addition, death benefits are available for family members of workers who lose a loved one because of a workplace accident. Schedule a Free Consultation with a Skilled Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Lawyer To learn more about your rights under Minnesota workers’ compensation laws, please contact Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. to speak to a member of our team. You can call 651-222-6603 or visit our website to set up a complimentary case evaluation at our St. Paul, MN office. We’ll be in a better position to advise you once we review your unique circumstances.

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Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines

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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 Guidelines Chart 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. [Video] Overview of MN Sentencing Guidelines John Arechigo – Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney 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. What our clients say… ★★★★★ “They were also upfront and honest with me regarding the severity of my charges. I was informed about ALL of the possible directions that I could take in the legal system as well as the consequences and benefits what would accompany each course of action.” Abigail P. ★★★★★ “I was so happy when John took my case, I was kept Informed of all of his every intentions, plans, and his recommendations was well thought out. My case was over in a timely manner and I felt like he was working in my best interest.” Kiki H. ★★★★★ “I was so happy that we chose John to be our attorney! He was with us every step of the way helping us get the best outcome possible. I was very pleased with how responsive John was to our needs, even responding to my emails and texts during odd hours of the day. “ Nicole B. ★★★★★ “Very Responsive attorney , always available by phone, email, or text. Helped me Expunge a case. Best decision I ever made.” Rae C. 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. 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....

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Maximum Sentence for Misdemeanor in Minnesota

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

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What’s the Difference Between DUI and DWI in Minnesota?

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Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorneys Assisting Clients with DUI and DWI Cases If you were charged with DUI or DWI in Minnesota, you must understand the severity of the charges you are facing and the difference between DUI and DWI.  In some states, there is a distinction between a DUI and a DWI for legal purposes. However, a DWI—or driving while impaired—is the charge that most people will face for drunk or drugged driving in Minnesota. A Minnesota DWI defense attorney can get started on your case. History of DUI and DWI Laws in Minnesota What’s the difference between a DUI and DWI in Minnesota? There is no difference—a person charged with drunk, drugged, or intoxicated driving will face DWI charges. Over the years, Minnesota criminal law charged drivers with the crimes of “driving while intoxicated” and later “driving under the influence.” Since 2001, anyone charged with one of these offenses will face charges for “driving while impaired” or DWI. Understanding Minnesota’s DWI Law Under Minnesota law, a person can face DWI charges if that person violated the state’s DWI law. The law states that it is unlawful to “drive, operate, or be in physical control of any motor vehicle anywhere in the state” while one of the following is true of the driver: The driver is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any intoxicating substance; The driver has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher (the standard for DWI charges in most states); The driver has any amount of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance other than marijuana in his or her body; or The driver is driving a commercial vehicle and has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher. It is also unlawful to refuse to submit to a chemical test if law enforcement stops you on suspicion of a DWI. Consequences for DUI and DWI Convictions in Minnesota The consequences of a DUI vs. DWI conviction depend on a variety of factors. The following are examples of consequences for a DWI conviction: First offense under 0.16 alcohol concentration: Misdemeanor that can result in 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and a license suspension for up to 90 days; First offense with 0.16 alcohol concentration or higher: Gross misdemeanor that can result in up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $3,000, a license suspension for up to 1 year, license plates impounded, and the possibility of a required ignition interlock device; Second offense in 10 year period under 0.16 alcohol concentration: Gross misdemeanor that can result in up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $3,000, a license suspension for up to 1 year, license plates impounded, and the possibility of a 30 day mandatory jail sentence and the possibility of a required ignition interlock device; Second offense in 10 year period with 0.16 alcohol concentration or higher: Gross misdemeanor that can result in up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $3,000, a license suspension for up to 2 years, license plates impounded, vehicle forfeited, the possibility of a 30 day mandatory jail sentence, and required ignition interlock device; Third offense in 10 year period: Gross misdemeanor with penalties of up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $3,000, the possibility of a mandatory 90-day jail sentence, license canceled, license plate impounded, and vehicle forfeited; and Fourth or more offense in 10 year period: Felony offense that can result in up to 7 years in prison, a fine of up to $14,000, license cancellation, license plate impounded, and vehicle forfeited. Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Minnesota Do you need help defending against DUI or DWI charges? A Minnesota DWI defense attorney can assist you.  Contact Arechigo & Stokka today for more information, or contact us at 651-401-7926.

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Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Guide

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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 with the experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka to learn more about 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, 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. 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. 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: 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: 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 function of part of the body. The amount of PPD benefits depends upon the type of permanent disability and the severity of...

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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. 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 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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Arechigo & Stokka Receive Win in Minnesota Cyberbullying Case

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In June, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling reversing the cyberbullying conviction of a high school student that has been working its way through the court system for the last three years. The student, identified in court documents as A.J.B., was originally charged under Minnesota’s mail-harassment laws. The case, which involved a series of tweets containing insults mocking the target’s autism and sexuality, raised concerns over the law’s potential infringement of the First Amendment. A.J.B. was originally found guilty in juvenile court of multiple charges of stalking and harassment under Minnesota’s mail harassment laws. On appeal, the Court of Appeals allowed the Minnesota cyberbullying case conviction to stand, prompting the further appeal to the state’s supreme court. In its ruling, the Supreme Court disagreed with the lower court ruling, finding that the laws were, in fact, too broad and as a result could provide an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. In its opinion, written by Justice Paul Thissen, the court explained that while First Amendment protections are not limitless, here the line separating speech that could be regulated by the government had not been crossed. Instead, the law was overbroad because it could be used against someone who didn’t know or intend that their communications “frighten, threaten, oppress, persecute, or intimidate” the target. “Obviously, we consider this a pretty big victory three years in the making,” said the attorney for the defendant, John Arechigo. “It’s certainly a win for freedom of speech.”

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