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Minneapolis Criminal Law Blog

New Apple iPhone Could Come With Fifth Amendment Implications

Technological and electronics giant Apple recently unveiled the newest design of their ubiquitous iPhone, the iPhone X. Among the talked-about features of the updated smartphone are a faster processor, wireless charging, glass screens on both front and back, side-to-side display and a better camera. Perhaps the most exciting – yet contentious – feature is FaceID, a new way of unlocking the device by the user undergoing a 3D facial scan using infrared projection.

Though the futuristic technology comes with several positives: it’s hands-free, there’s no need to remember a four- or six-digit pass code, and it seems to address potential safety issues by being, in the words of Apple, much less vulnerable to hacking. Those purported benefits aside, FaceID has some outspoken detractors.

Man charged in connection with 1983 cold case murder

On Sept. 13, a Minnesota man was charged with second-degree murder in a 1983 rape and murder case. He was charged for the crime in 2015 after DNA testing matched the DNA found at the scene to that of the convicted man.

In April 1983, officers were sent out to investigate a body that had been found near the Soo Line Railroad tracks at 28th Avenue North in the city of Minneapolis. The remains were identified as those belonging to a 17-year-old girl. Authorities reported that the girl had suffered severe trauma to the head and that fresh tire tracks on her body indicated that her body had been dragged to the tracks. An autopsy found that the girl suffered injuries that were consistent with strangulation and blunt force trauma.

Ax-murder leads to homicide charges for Minnesota man

Minneapolis residents may be interested in knowing about an alleged homicide case that is unfolding west of the Twin City area. News sources say that a 24-year-old man is facing a second-degree murder charge following the deadly incident, which occurred in Hopkins on August 25. According to reports, the criminal complaint was filed in Hennepin County on August 28.

Shortly after the incident took place, police responded to a home in the 200 block of 10th Avenue, where they found a 67-year-old decedent with a number of wounds to his head and back lying in his front yard. The man's wife, who is believed to have witnessed the alleged attack, claims that the charged man broke into her home and pulled her husband onto the floor of the living room before pulling him outside. Reports indicate that the charged man was swinging an ax-like tool during the attack.

Overbroad search warrant could support a defense

Most people know and understand that the police need a warrant to conduct searches of their private property, but when do the police overstep the bounds of the Fourth Amendment even when they have a warrant? This is an important question given that scores of criminal cases arise when law enforcement discover illegal contraband or weapons that are not identified within the warrant.

The story of a Washington, D.C. man convicted of illegal possession of a weapon exemplifies this question. Police obtained a warrant to search his home and seize any a cell phones available as they suspected that he played a part in a 2011 murder. Upon executing the warrant, police found a gun that was thrown out of a window. Based on this, the man, who had a previous felony conviction was arrested and charged with possessing a firearm. A jury subsequently convicted him of the crime. 

DWI in Minnesota: When is it a felony?

It is illegal to operate a vehicle with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more in the state of Minnesota. This is true throughout the country, but each state varies in the penalties that come with a violation. This piece will focus specifically on the penalties connected to a driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction in Minnesota.

What kind of penalties come with a DWI conviction in Minnesota? Those charged with a drunk driving crime can face both criminal and administrative penalties. Criminal penalties can include use of an ignition interlock device, required enrollment in a chemical dependency treatment program, fines and potential jail time. 

What are the penalties for drug possession in Minnesota?

If you're accused of possessing drugs in Minnesota, you could face many different penalties. If you're further accused of selling or transporting drugs, you can face far more serious penalties.

Depending on the kind of drug you have in your possession, you can face as little as no time in prison to a lifetime in prison. For example, on a first offense for the possession of 42.5 grams or less of marijuana, you can face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If instead you have over 50 grams of cocaine in your possession, you face up to 30 years in prison and up to a million dollars in fines for each count you're found guilty of.

Federal crimes: The facts and figures

In 2014, the federal government released data on the number of people who committed federal crimes and the types of crimes they committed. Interestingly, it's not just individuals committing fraud against the government. Institutions or corporations do as well, with 162 organizations defending themselves that year.

It may not be surprising that the majority of cases involve individuals. Since 1988, the number of people reported for committing federal crimes has grown significantly, too. In 2011, the total number of individuals sentenced for federal crimes was 86,201. Since then, there has been a slight decline with 75,998 federal criminal cases heading to court in 2014.

Michael Floyd claims he got drunk off kombucha tea

One thing you may not think could make you fail a Breathalyzer test is tea. Unless it contains alcohol, it's unlikely that tea would cause you to fail the test. Despite that, it could be possible in the right circumstances, and that's what Michael Floyd is claiming happened in his case. The catch is that the tea did actually contain alcohol, but the amount was so minimal that his intoxication seems unlikely.

The Minnesota Viking claims that he failed three self-administered Breathalyzer tests as a result of drinking bottles of Kombucha tea. He had been watching movies with Kyle Rudolph, a tight end for the Vikings, prior to the tests. While drinking alcohol is a violation of Floyd's probationary period and he could be sent to prison for prior alcohol-related offenses, the Vikings chief operating officer (COO) defended the man. He claims that Michael Floyd did not know the Kombucha had alcohol in it.

Sometimes, trespassing is legal due to necessity

You were crossing a yard while searching for your pet. The owner of the home came out and told you to get off the land. You refused, because you needed to get your dog back home safely. Now, you are at home and facing an officer who says you've been reported for trespassing.

Did you really trespass in this situation, and should you be held liable?

You can fight drug conviction charges to clear your name

Minnesota does give the option of alternative penalties following a drug conviction. The drug court's aim is to reduce the rate of re-offenses, which means that helping those who are struggling with drug abuse is more important than imprisoning them. Those convicted of low-level drug offenses may be able to seek out drug addiction recovery assistance instead of having to go to jail, for example.

If a person has had a violent criminal background, then that person will be excluded from the alternative options. For instance, if a person was selling drugs and violently attacked someone who was purchasing those drugs, he or she would be excluded from the alternative penalty programs.

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