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Thursday, January 23, 2014

How to Avoid a Conviction on a Minnesota Theft Offense

If you are charged with a theft offense in Minnesota, your case may be eligible for a diversion program. A diversion is a treatment program available to theft offenders and is an alternative to a conviction. The program requires you to participate in treatment and abide by other terms and conditions imposed by the judge at the time of sentencing. If you are successful in fulfilling all the conditions of your sentence, the charge against you will be dismissed after an agreed upon amount of probationary time. No guilty plea is necessary. You are now eligible to file a petition for expungement to seal the court house file on the grounds that the matter was resolved in your favor. Why not keep this unfortunate incident  from further scrutiny by a nosey landlord or potential employer? 

If you, or someone you know, has been charged with a theft offense in Minnesota, call Minnesota theft defense attorney Robert J. Shane for the "Best Defense" at (612) 339-1024.

Mpls. Police Use a Drug Dealer's Cell Phone Number to Track Him Home

In a recent Minneapolis narcotics investigation,  officers used a cell phone locator tool to track a drug dealer to his residence. A confidential informant provided police officers with information that a suspect known as "Dennis" was dealing large amounts of powdered and crack cocaine in North Minneapolis. The informant supplied officers with the suspect's cell phone number and   a description of the vehicles driven by the drug  dealer.

Police Officers arranged a surveillance in order to track the location of the drug dealer's cell phone number. Minneapolis police officers used a cell phone locator tool to send a "pinging" signal to the cell phone number of the suspected drug dealer every fifteen minutes. The signal forced the cell phone to enter the police network which then provided officers with information on the location of the cell phone within a certain radius. Police monitored the signal for a two week period and determined there was a cluster of signals emitted by the cell phone in a three block radius  near Logan Avenue North and Broadway Avenue between 2:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Officers used the information to locate the two vehicles described by the informant parked in front of a residence on Logan Avenue North. A surveillance was set up at the Logan Avenue residence. Officers observed the suspect depart and return to the residence using a key and driving both vehicles described by the informant. During the two week surveillance period, officers arranged for two controlled buys of cocaine from the suspect. The confidential informant called the identified cell phone number and ordered cocaine.  The phone calls were recorded by police. After the two controlled buys, police executed a narcotics search warrant at the Logan residence and located 13.1 grams of crack cocaine and a firearm. The drug dealer, at the time of his arrest, had in his possession a cell phone with an assigned number that matched the phone number provided to the police by the confidential informant. The voice of the suspect on the recorded phone calls made by the confidential informant matched the same voice of "Dennis" who made the mistake of giving  police a recorded statement  after his arrest.

The drug dealer was convicted by a Hennepin County jury of first degree controlled substance crime and ineligible firearm possession. The cell phone tracker is a powerful tool to catch suspected drug dealers. Was the use of the cell phone locator tool by the Minneapolis Police Department constitutional? If the use violated the Fourth Amendment, a skilled Minneapolis Criminal Defense can file a motion to suppress the use of the evidence, including  any evidence seized by the police during the execution of the search warrant. If you have been charged with a controlled substance crime, call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for the "Best Defense"  at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information at

Monday, January 6, 2014

When Can You Withdraw a Guilty Plea in MN?

A defendant in a Minnesota criminal case has no absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea. The  Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure  allow for the withdrawal of a guilty plea in two different situations. In the first,  a judge may grant the request  either before or after sentencing "if the withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice." A manifest injustice  occurs when a guilty plea is invalid. A guilty plea is considered invalid if it is not voluntary, accurate, or intelligent. In the second situation, a judge may grant a motion to  withdraw a guilty plea "if it is fair and just to do so." Although the second standard is less demanding, it doesn't mean that a guilty plea can be withdraw for just any reason.
In order for a guilty plea to be intelligent, a defendant must understand the nature of the charges, the rights a person waives by pleading guilty, and the potential sentence resulting from the conviction. In a misdemeanor case,  the rules require that a defendant  be questioned by either the judge or defense counsel about the following:  (a) the nature of the criminal charge and when and where it took place; (b) the maximum possible sentence a judge could impose on conviction; (c) the possibility for deportation for persons who are not citizens; (d) the right to counsel; (e) all of the trial rights; and (f)  whether or not the defendant believes he or she  committed the crime charged. This requirement can be satisfied if the judge read a group advisory and then asked each defendant if he or she heard and understood the advisory. The requirement is also satisfied if the defendant signs a petition to enter a guilty plea.

If the court or counsel failed to  question you regarding the above matters, you may have a case for withdrawing your guilty plea on the grounds that the plea was not intelligent. If you were represented by counsel, strict compliance with the above rule is not required since the court will presume that your attorney advised you of your rights. If you were unrepresented by counsel and did not sign a petition to enter a guilty plea, you may have a strong case if the court failed to inform you of your trial rights.

A transcript of the guilty plea hearing will need to be requested and reviewed by a Minnesota criminal defense attorney who has  experience in filing motions to withdraw   guilty pleas. The district court file will also need to be reviewed by a criminal defense attorney. Remember, even if the guilty plea was intelligent, you may still be able to withdraw the plea on the grounds that  it was not accurate or voluntary. In addition, the guilty plea can be withdrawn before sentencing "if it is fair and just to do so." Call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane now for a free phone consultation to determine if you can withdraw your guilty plea and protect your future.