Giancola-Durkin, P.A.

Anoka County Criminal Law Blog

How Minnesota is combatting opioid overdoses

Minnesotans have become more aware of the dangers of prescription medication overdoses over the last decade. Despite having the -lowest overdose rate in the country in 2017, law enforcement isn’t content with that number. Opioid overdoses kill hundreds of people in-state alone and a new initiative looks to reduce that number closer to zero.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has opened a new office in Duluth where medication overdoses have increased. This partnership will allow local law enforcement to combat the effort by giving them access to the DEA database.

Pot arrests down, but convictions steady, in Minnesota in recent years

Recent years have seen a lot of changes in both policies and public opinion regarding marijuana here in the U.S. Given this, one might wonder if Minnesota has seen any notable shifts in how common it is for people to face arrest and major consequences in relation to pot over this time. Statistics cited in a Star Tribune article from earlier this year shed some light on this.

According to this data, after a long period of flat rates, Minnesota saw a big drop in marijuana arrests after 2014. Since then, arrests have been staying at a relatively lower level. As an example, in 2017, there were over 2,000 fewer pot-related arrests than was the case in 2014.

Minnesota currently seeing upped DWI enforcement

With summer coming to an end and Labor Day weekend approaching, the next couple of weeks may be ones full of festivities for many Minnesotans. However, in the midst of all this fun, it is very important for individuals to be careful about how they act on the road. Missteps could lead to serious consequences, such as being accused of drunk driving.

Police in Minnesota are particularly on the lookout for DWI right now. The state is in the midst of a wave of increased DWI enforcement. This campaign started last Friday and is scheduled to go until Labor Day. Over 300 police agencies in the state are participating in it.

Minnesota’s sex crime laws just got stricter

At the start of this month, a slew of new laws went into effect here in Minnesota. This includes a range of statutes that toughen the state’s laws related to sex offenses.

For one, what qualifies as a sex offense has been expanded. There had previously been an exclusion in the state’s sex crime laws for the intentional touching of a person’s clothed buttocks with sexual/aggressive purpose. This exclusion has been removed, so such actions are now considered fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Minnesota violent crime rates drop in 2018

If you listen to the news each day, you might think that Minnesota is drowning in crime. It seems that every day brings a new murder or assault, but what's the real picture? We know news outlets cover violent crimes because they shock us and grab our attention, but how well do these stories inform our understanding of what's actually happening?

The truth is that violent crime fell by 6.7% in 2018. This is according to the official report compiled by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. But violent crimes are only one part of the larger picture. To understand the type of justice they should expect, Minnesotans need that larger view.

Seeking a new approach concerning drug offenses

Many Minnesota residents, particularly young people, struggle with substance abuse issues. Currently, our country is facing an opiate epidemic. Synthetic drugs are also often easily obtainable for drug users. And the use of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana continues.

But while such disturbing trends continue, the criminal justice system generally treats drug users as criminals rather than individuals in need of help. There are officials in Minnesota who feel there is a need for a new approach. Many of them feel that the costly war on drugs has been unsuccessful.

No charges filed in death of rock star Prince

The music world lost one of its most brilliant minds when Prince was found dead in his studio. The official cause of death by an overdose of Vicodin was quidkly suspected, but was later discovered to be an unlicensed knock-off laced with fentanyl. What remained to be learned, however, was whether any persons who supplied Prince with the unprescribed pills could be held liable for criminal conduct. After much waiting and anticipation, the Minnesota prosecutor recently announced that he would not be seeking charges in Prince's death. 

 

Minnesota Supreme Court sets new DWI rule

Many things have big impacts on individuals who are under suspicion of drunk driving. This includes what specifically police are (and are not) required to do in DWI investigations. What the rules are on this front here in Minnesota are affected by a range of things. This includes what the state’s supreme court decides when questions arise on what specific rights individuals have when they are being investigated for drunk driving.

This week, this court made such a decision. This ruling adds something to the list of things police are not required to do in DWI investigations.

Phone passwords raise new questions regarding police investigations

What police can and can’t do during investigations is a critical issue. It touches on a wide range of things, from the fairness of the justice system to people’s rights. In recent years, new technologies have raised all kinds of new questions when it comes to this issue.

One device that is at the center of many such questions is the cellphone. Modern smartphones can contain all sorts of data on a person’s life and activities. This can put these devices in the crosshairs of police during investigations.

Criminal fees and fines: Are they fair?

Fines and fees are incredibly common penalties in the criminal justice system. They are issued in relation to a wide range of crimes, from DUI, to drug violations, to violent offenses.

These monetary penalties can get very large and can have deep impacts. They can put a heavy financial strain on a person as he or she tries to move forward from a criminal conviction. And when an individual falls behind in paying them, the consequences can be severe. Here in Minnesota, failure to pay such a fine or fee can put a person’s drivers’ license in danger. When people drive with a suspended or revoked license, it could expose them to further citations and fines. So, there can be the potential for hefty fines and fees to throw individuals into a vicious cycle.

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