Schedule 6 Controlled Substances in St. Paul: What Are the Penalties?

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The Minnesota drug scheduling system includes only five schedules—there is no Schedule 6. The federal government, however, recently added Schedule 6 to its list of schedules. At present, the only listed federal Schedule VI drugs are marijuana and THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). Although penalties for possession and distribution of Schedule VI drugs can be stiff, one very significant loophole exists, as described below. What Exactly Is a Drug Schedule? Both the federal government and the Minnesota government classify illegal drugs according to drug schedules—lists of illegal drugs classified by number. Heroin, for example, is listed as a Schedule I drug under both the federal system and the Minnesota system. The higher the number of the schedule, the less harmful the listed drug is thought to be, and the more lenient the penalties are. Federal Penalties for Possession and Distribution of Marijuana The federal penalties for violation of marijuana laws vary, depending on whether you are charged with possession or distribution under Schedule 6. Possession of Marijuana The federal penalties for marijuana possession are: First offense: Up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Second offense: 15 days to two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Subsequent offenses: 90 days to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. These penalties also apply to the possession of marijuana derivatives such as THC, although the actionable amounts differ. Distribution or Intent to Distribute Federal penalties for the distribution of marijuana are: Distribution of a “small amount” free of charge: Treated as mere possession. Less than 50 plants or 50 kg: Up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. 50-99 plants: Up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million. 100-999 plants or 100-999 kg: Five to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million. More than 999 plants or more than 999 kg: 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million. Federal law does not precisely define how much marijuana constitutes a “small amount.” A Giant Loophole: The Federal Enforcement Paradox Even though marijuana use remains illegal at the federal level, many states have legalized it for medical and even recreational use. Although federal law prevails over contrary state law, in practice the federal government has left the enforcement of marijuana offenses largely to states and state law, except under narrow circumstances (bringing marijuana onto a commercial jetliner, for example). But keep in mind, this is just a matter of policy—it’s still possible for people to be prosecuted under federal law even if they comply with state laws. However, it’s unlikely you’ll be the target of a federal prosecution unless you’re involved in broader criminal activity.  Minnesota Marijuana Penalties Possession of an (unspecified) small amount of marijuana, or distribution of a small amount free of charge, is a petty misdemeanor. The only penalty is mandatory participation in a drug education program. Subsequent offenses result in a mandatory chemical dependency evaluation and treatment.  Time Is of the Essence If you have been arrested on a controlled substance charge, get in touch with Arechigo & Stokka immediately. We understand the St. Paul criminal justice system from the inside out, and we enjoy working relationships with all the major players. We offer aggressive, committed and intelligent representation. Contact us online or call us at 651-222-6603 for a free initial consultation on your case.

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Will I Be Covered by Workers’ Compensation If I Contract COVID-19?

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With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting millions across America, many workers worry about their employment. You may have questions in this uncertain time, such as, will I be covered by workers’ compensation in MN if I contract COVID? Workers’ compensation normally doesn’t cover community-acquired illnesses like colds and flu. However, there are some exceptions for COVID. Here, we explain workers’ compensation MN laws related to COVID.  If you have questions about these laws or want to discuss your situation, contact our experienced workers’ comp MN attorneys at the Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers’ Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka. COVID Workers’ Compensation for Frontline Workers Last year, Governor Tim Walz signed H.F. 4537, which expanded Minnesota’s workers’ compensation to include COVID frontline workers. The law protects workers with a presumption that a COVID infection occurred at the workplace, though employers have the opportunity to rebut the presumption. Frontline workers covered by this presumption include: Law enforcement officers; Firefighters; Paramedics and EMTs; Healthcare workers and correction officers working in correctional facilities; and  Healthcare workers and assistants in healthcare, home care, or long-term care facilities with COVID-infected populations.  People providing childcare to these frontline workers can also qualify for the presumption. If you are not entitled to the presumption, you may still be able to claim workers’ compensation for COVID. Doing so will require you to present some evidence that your COVID infection came from your workplace.  How to Claim Workers’ Compensation for COVID To claim workmans’ compensation in MN for COVID, you should take these steps: Notify your employer that you suspect COVID and stay home from work; Get laboratory testing to verify your COVID infection; Quarantine according to health authority guidance; Save medical records and bills related to your COVID diagnosis and treatment; File a workers’ compensation claim related to your illness; and Speak to an attorney if your employer rejects your workers’ compensation claim or threatens to retaliate if you file a claim. Workmans’ comp insurance in MN should pay your medical bills and a reduced wage while you miss work due to COVID. To receive workmans’ comp benefits, you will need to present evidence of your injury and of your inability to work.  Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney About Your COVID Claim If you think you acquired COVID at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. This new area of workers’ compensation claims can be confusing, and insurers may try to reject your claim. An experienced attorney can help you pursue the compensation you need. To speak to an attorney about your workers’ compensation claim, contact the Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers’ Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka. We have decades of experience helping hundreds of clients, but we personalize a legal solution for each client. We offer a free consultation and work on contingency. This means you owe us nothing until we win you money. Contact us today to get started on your COVID workers’ compensation claim.

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Amazon Workers’ Compensation Overview

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If you work for Amazon in Minnesota and are injured at work, you need to know your rights. Do you need to file a workers’ compensation claim through Amazon? Who pays for your medical bills? Can you sue Amazon in court?The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo and Stokka will walk you through each step. We also will ensure you get full benefits to compensate you for your Amazon workers’ compensation claim. Why Workers’ Compensation for Amazon Injuries? Like most states, Minnesota has a workers’ compensation law that covers work-related accidents and injuries. This law also makes workers’ compensation the exclusive remedy for workers to recover money when hurt on the job.  Workers’ compensation involves a trade off. Injured workers do not need to prove that their employer caused or was at fault for their work-related injury. In addition, injured employees receive specified benefits based on the type and severity of their injury. Consequently, the workers’ compensation system provides employees with a relatively fast and defined method to recover their medical bills and lost wages.  In exchange, workers are not permitted to sue their employer in court for employment-related injuries. Also, employees are unable to recover certain types of monetary damages, such as pain and suffering awards. Generally, the only way that you can recover money from Amazon for an on-the-job injury is through workers’ compensation. However, Minnesota’s workers’ compensation statute provides limited exceptions that might allow you to sue your employer or a third party. When you consult with us regarding your Amazon workers’ compensation claim, we can advise you on the best way to proceed. What Should an Amazon Employee Do First When Injured on the Job? If you are injured while working for Amazon, your first step is to notify your supervisor and seek medical attention. Whether you work in Amazon’s technology office, fulfillment center, or sortation facility, you need to report all injuries, no matter how minor, to management. Amazon then must complete the First Report of Injury form. Amazon should give you a copy of that completed form as well as the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation System Employee Information Sheet.  What Amazon Workers’ Compensation Benefits Will I Receive? If your illness or injury occurred while working for Amazon, you generally will be able to recover:  Medical expenses—reasonable and necessary medical treatments and supplies; Rehabilitation benefits—vocational rehabilitation services and/or retraining to help you return to work; and Lost wages—temporary or permanent disability benefits to cover a portion of the pay lost due to your work-related injury. If an employee dies while working at Amazon, Minnesota’s workers’ compensation statute will provide a death benefit to the surviving spouse or other dependents. Do I Need A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer? It is important to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer early in the process to protect your rights. Amazon workers’ compensation claims can be stressful, and you may fear retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. We can help take the fear and frustration out of the process while ensuring you get your rightful workers’ compensation benefits. Contact or call (651) 222-6603 to reach one of the Minnesota workers’ compensation attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka for a free consultation as soon as you are injured at Amazon. We have represented hundreds of injured workers in Minnesota, and you won’t pay a fee unless we recover workers’ compensation benefits for you.

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Starbucks Workers’ Compensation Overview

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If you work for Starbucks, you may enjoy great coffee and friendly co-workers. But what if you get hurt at work? Can you get money for your injuries through Starbucks’ workers’ compensation insurance? Below, our experienced Minnesota workers’ comp lawyers will go over what happens if you are injured while working at Starbucks. If you have questions about your worker’s comp claim, contact our St. Paul workers’ compensation attorney today. How Workers’ Compensation Works in Minnesota In Minnesota, all employers must provide workers’ compensation benefits to their employees for work-related illnesses and injuries. In most cases, employers purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover such benefits. Some employers may self-insure workers’ compensation benefits. This means that the company pays for work-related injuries out of its own funds rather than using an insurance carrier (which requires approval from the Minnesota Department of Commerce).  If you are injured while working for Starbucks, workers’ compensation will likely pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation and retraining services. Workers’ comp will not, however, pay for monetary damages often associated with a personal injury claim, like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and punitive damages. Starbucks Workers’ Compensation Claims As a Starbucks employee, you may experience a work-related illness or injury when you least expect it. For example, you may: Burn yourself with hot Starbucks coffee; Cut your hand while opening coffee bean bags; Break your ankle from slipping on a wet floor; Hurt your back while moving tables and chairs; or Contract a respiratory illness from a workplace toxin. Whether your injury is minor or catastrophic, you need to report it to your supervisor immediately to begin a Starbucks workers’ comp claim.  If your injury or illness causes you to miss three or more days of work, Starbucks must report your workers’ compensation claim to its insurer. The Starbucks workers’ compensation insurance carrier will either accept your claim and begin paying benefits or deny your claim.  Denial of Your Starbucks Workers’ Comp Claim Workers’ compensation insurers may deny claims for a variety of reasons, some that are warranted and some that are not. For example, it is legal for a workers’ compensation carrier to deny coverage when: You didn’t report your injury or illness within 14 days; Your medical condition is not work-related; or You decline treatment or refuse to be examined by an independent medical examiner. However, many denials are based on questionable or unlawful grounds. For example, if Starbucks states that you were not an employee at the time of your injury or terminates you before you filed your Starbucks workers’ compensation claim, they may have improperly denied your claim.  Questions About Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Process If you are going through the Starbucks workers’ compensation process for the first time, you may have many questions. For example, may Starbucks or its workers’ compensation insurer require you to see their doctor rather than your own? What if they send a nurse case manager to attend your doctor visits? How much of your medical history may the insurance carrier request? Can Starbucks fire you for missing work while you recover from your work-related injury? Our experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers at the Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers’ Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka will answer these and many other questions for you.  Contact Us for a Free Workers’ Compensation Consultation Don’t go through a Starbucks workers’ compensation claim alone. Contact us immediately to make sure you get all the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled. Joshua Stokka devotes his entire law practice to representing injured workers in Minnesota. He’ll give you personal attention and the workers’ compensation answers you need.

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Minnesota Hit and Run Law

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You’re involved in an accident. Maybe you hit another car, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian. You panic and flee the scene. What are the consequences? Will you be arrested? Fined? Put in jail? Minnesota’s hit-and-run law spells out the potential consequences for leaving the scene of an accident.  Driver Obligations Under Minnesota’s Collision (Hit-and-Run) Law Minnesota’s traffic statutes set forth what drivers of a motor vehicle must do when involved in a collision. First, drivers in Minnesota must immediately stop their vehicle at the scene of the collision and investigate what they hit. Drivers should try not to obstruct other traffic following an accident. If it is necessary to stop a short distance from the collision, that is acceptable. Second, if the driver believes they may have injured someone or caused damage, the driver must stay at the scene of the accident. The driver may leave the scene only after they have shared their information with all individuals involved in the collision.The driver must provide his or her: Name, Date of birth, and Mailing address or e-mail address. The driver also must provide the license plate number of the vehicle being driven. If asked by a police officer, the driver must show their driver license. In addition, if requested, the driver must provide the name and address of the insurance company and agent that provides liability insurance for the vehicle. If the driver does not provide insurance information at the accident scene, the driver must provide it within 72 hours after the accident. Finally, when a collision causes injuries or death to another person, the driver must notify the police and file an accident report. Minnesota Hit-and-Run Law Involving Property Damage or Unattended Vehicles Drivers who are involved in an accident with an unattended vehicle or one that causes property damage are similarly required to stop their vehicles. They too must reasonably investigate any damage they caused. In these circumstances, the driver must try to locate and notify the owner of the unattended vehicle or damaged property. The driver then must provide his or her name and address to the owner and report the collision to law enforcement. If the owner cannot be found, the driver must leave a note on the car providing this information. Minnesota Hit-and-Run Penalties If you leave the scene of a vehicle accident, you could face significant criminal charges. The extent of the penalties for a hit and run in Minnesota depend largely on the severity of the injuries and property damage caused. For a misdemeanor hit and run, you may face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in prison. For cases involving severe injuries or death, you could face fines of up to $5,000 and up to three years in jail. In many hit-and-run cases, the state may revoke your driver’s license.  Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Minnesota If you have been involved in a Minnesota hit-and-run accident, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to obtain the best possible outcome of your case. Contact us today for a free hit-and-run consultation. We are committed to providing each client with personal attention while understanding that every hit-and-run case can be unique. We will listen to the facts of your case and pursue options designed to meet the needs of you and your family. 

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Minnesota Extradition Laws

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A person can become a fugitive from justice if they are no longer in the state where an alleged criminal offense occurred. In some cases, a person may move to a different state without knowing the state has filed criminal charges against that person. Being a fugitive, however, does not mean the state cannot bring that person back to the state to face criminal charges. Most states have laws that allow the police to send a person accused of a crime back to the state where the crime occurred to stand trial. Minnesota is one of those states.  What Is Extradition? Extradition allows one state to turn over a person accused or convicted of a crime to the place where the person was charged or convicted. Importantly, this can involve two countries or two states. The laws of the countries or states involved in a particular transfer will determine how extradition takes place. What Laws Govern Extradition in Minnesota? When extradition involves the United States and another country, a criminal will be extradited according to an extradition treaty. But if there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and the other country, the suspect or convict may avoid trial or prison. Therefore, fugitives facing extradition to a foreign country should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows extradition treaties between countries. For extradition between Minnesota and another U.S. state, the individuall may be extradited under numerous laws. First, the U.S. Constitution includes an extradition clause that applies to all U.S. states. That clause requires states to return a person who has been charged in any state to the state having jurisdiction over the crime. Second, the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA) sets forth processes and requirements for extradition between the states. Minnesota is one of the forty-eight states that have adopted the UCEA. In particular, Minnesota’s extradition law provides that “it is the duty of the governor of this state to have arrested and delivered up to the executive authority of any other state of the United States any person charged in that state with treason, felony, or other crime, who has fled from justice and if found in this state.” How Does the Minnesota Extradition Law Work? Minnesota law enforcement will extradite a fugitive under the following general process: The state from which the fugitive fled issues an out-of-state arrest warrant; That state enters the arrest warrant into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which allows Minnesota police to access it; Minnesota police arrest the fugitive and notify the issuing state; The issuing state requests return of the fugitive; The fugitive may choose to waive extradition (meaning he/she voluntarily agrees to return to the original state); If the fugitive does not voluntarily agree to return, the governor of the original state must request extradition from the governor of Minnesota; If both governors approve the extradition request, Minnesota holds an extradition hearing where a judge decides whether to grant or deny extradition; and If granted, Minnesota officials transport the fugitive back to the demanding state. The same process is usually followed if an individual accused of a crime in Minnesota is living in another state and Minnesota wants that person returned to face prosecution. Throughout this detailed process, law enforcement may mistakenly violate the fugitive’s rights. That’s why it is so important to contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at the earliest hint of extradition. Your Minnesota Criminal Extradition Lawyer At the Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers’ Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka, we know when and how to defend against extradition. Minnesota Lawyer has recognized criminal defense lawyer, John Arechigo, as an attorney of the year multiple times, including awarding him with the exclusive Circle of Excellence in 2019. Contact us today for your free consultation to discuss your options.

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Understanding Reckless Driving in MN

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If you have a driver’s license, you know that there are many traffic laws that drivers must obey. Many are aware of what constitutes speeding or a DUI, but do you understand what constitutes reckless driving? Do you know what the penalties are? Or why you might need an attorney if you get charged with this offense? Since reckless driving charges can impact your driving privileges and potentially even your freedom, these are important concepts to understand. What Exactly Is Reckless Driving in Minnesota? Under Minnesota statute section 169.13, reckless driving is defined as driving in a way that poses a substantial, significant, and unjustifiable risk to the welfare and safety of others. For driving to qualify as reckless, the vehicle operator must be aware of this risk and consciously disregard it. The risk may be to another person’s well-being or property. In other words, the driver must exhibit a deliberate disregard for other people’s safety to be charged with this crime. Racing is one example of reckless driving that the statute addresses explicitly. Penalties The penalties for reckless driving are fairly straightforward. Standard reckless driving in MN is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. However, be aware that if your driving record has prior infractions, you could also lose your driving privileges. The amount of time you stand to lose your license depends on whether you had prior traffic vioaltions. Furthermore, if your recklessness resulted in serious bodily injury to someone else, your charge will likely be upgraded. Standard misdemeanors can be upgraded to gross misdemeanors, which carry sentences of up to one year in jail and up to a $3,000 fine.  Do I Need a Lawyer? As far as traffic offenses go, the need for a lawyer is perhaps never so great as when an officer charges you with reckless driving in MN. That is because the laws prohibiting such behavior are quite broad and can be misconstrued by law enforcement. Imperfect officers can see something that appears to be reckless when, in fact, it is not. Only experienced criminal defense attorneys can properly assess the facts of your case and determine whether reckless driving was the appropriate charge. It is possible that the circumstances more accurately reflect the less severe charge of careless driving or speeding.  We Can Help Traffic offenses may not seem serious at first. But criminal traffic infractions can result in jail time, steep fines, and a tarnished driving record. When so much is at stake, you need an experienced attorney by your side. The Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka has decades of experience in defending people just like you from criminal charges that threaten to upend their lives. First, we closely examine the evidence in your case. Then we seek to lessen the severity of the charges or defend against them completely. One thing is certain: We will make sure that your rights are protected every step of the way. So call us today at 651-222-6603, or contact us online to set up your free initial consultation.

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Reckless Discharge of a Firearm in MN

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If you are a gun owner, you probably enjoy using your gun in a variety of ways. Some people keep their guns on hand solely for safety purposes, while others like to hunt. Some enjoy target practice. Regardless of how you choose to enjoy your gun, you must first learn how to use it properly. That involves practice, and practice means discharging your weapon. But where and how you choose to fire your gun can have consequences, so it is important to know Minnesota firearm discharge laws. Minnesota Firearm Discharge Laws Minnesota statute section 609.66 addresses which actions involving dangerous weapons constitute a crime. Some crimes are misdemeanors, such as: Recklessly handling a weapon or firearm in a way that could potentially endanger other people; Pointing a gun at someone, even if the gun is not loaded; and Manufacturing, selling, or possessing a dangerous item with the intent to use it unlawfully as a weapon against someone else. Other actions are considered felonies. Section 609.66 (1a)(3) states that firing or discharging a firearm recklessly within a municipality in the state of Minnesota is a felony. Reckless Discharge of a Firearm Sentence A judge can sentence you to up to one year in jail and impose up to a $3,000 fine for the misdemeanor offenses listed above. Minnesota Statutes Section 609.66 (1b)(1) and (1b)(2) address the felony penalties for recklessly discharging a firearm. Essentially, you can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and receive up to a $10,000 fine if the discharge occurs in: A park zone, A public housing zone, or A school zone. Courts consider it less severe if the discharge happens almost anywhere else, imposing a lesser sentence of up to two years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. With so much at stake, it is important to understand the reckless discharge of a firearm sentence that might apply to you. Recklessness The law states that reckless discharge of a firearm in Minnesota is a crime. But this statement can leave you wondering what the term “reckless” means in this context. A person is said to have acted recklessly if they knew or should have known that their actions could cause harm to others. To help determine if specific actions were reckless, the court employs both a subjective and an objective test. The subjective test asks whether a specific person in a specific situation knew or should have known that their actions could cause harm to others. The objective test asks whether a “reasonable person” would know that their actions were dangerous.  We Can Defend You Gun charges are serious and can affect your ability to own firearms well into the future. If you find yourself charged with a gun crime, it is important to hire an experienced gun rights attorney. The Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka has decades of experience defending your right to bear arms, and we will make sure that your rights are protected every step of the way. So call today, or set up a free consultation online.

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Home Depot Workers’ Compensation Overview

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Home Depot is a favorite for do-it-yourselfers, but employees face workplace hazards every day while serving customers. Work accidents can easily occur, leaving an employee injured and facing mounting medical bills. Fortunately, if you are an employee injured at Home Depot, you may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits.  What Is Workers’ Compensation? Workers’ compensation is a special type of insurance for employees. If you suffer an accident in the scope of your employment, workers’ compensation can provide benefits to ease financial strain.  If you’ve been injured while working at Home Depot, contact a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.  Available Workers’ Compensation Benefits Minnesota Home Depot workers’ comp can cover various expenses related to your workplace accident and injuries. These include: Medical expenses, Disability, Lost wages, and  Rehabilitation benefits.  You may not be aware of what benefits you are entitled to. A Minnesota workers’ comp attorney can review the details of your case and help you get what you deserve. Common Home Depot Workplace Accidents and Injuries Home Depot is always bustling, and there are many opportunities for workplace accidents to occur. Some common types of workplace accidents include: Falling objects, Slip and falls, Equipment accidents, and Falls from heights. Injuries can vary in severity, depending on the type of accident. Resulting injuries could include: Lacerations, Fractures or broken bones, Head and neck injuries, and Back and spinal cord injuries. Whatever your accident and resulting injury, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Be sure to file a Home Depot injury claim. What to Do After a Home Depot Work Accident To get the benefits you deserve, there are specific steps you should take after a Home Depot workplace accident. What you do after your accident can impact your ability to collect benefits. Get Medical Help Always put your health and well-being first. If your injuries are severe, call 911. Otherwise, visit your doctor as soon as possible. Explain the details of your accident, and let them know you are there for a Home Depot workers’ compensation claim. Your doctor will have to complete a Report of Work Ability form with details of your accident, injuries, and resulting limitations. Be sure to give your employer a copy of the completed form.  Report Your Workplace Accident Home Depot workers’ compensation policy requires you to report your accident as soon as you can. Aside from getting medical treatment, this is the most important step. Failing to report your accident to a supervisor or manager can result in your inability to receive benefits that you would be entitled to. After you report your accident, your supervisor will need to fill out a First Report of Injury (FROI) form.  Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Home Depot work accidents can come with physical and financial burdens. Help ensure you’re getting every benefit you’re entitled to by contacting a workers’ compensation attorney.  A Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help You The Criminal Defense Attorney and Workers’ Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka has been proudly representing injured clients for over a decade. We approach every case compassionately while fiercely representing our clients and their rights. Our firm strives to be transparent and easily accessible, allowing our clients to feel confident and secure. We offer free case evaluations. Contact us today.

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Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines

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

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