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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. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What to Do When the Feds Seize and Attempt to Forfeit your Cash or Property

Let's say you are at the Minneapolis airport and happen to be carrying $50,000.00 in cash in your backpack. The cash does not represent proceeds from any criminal activity. Instead, you are a hardworking American citizen who  dutifully saved the cash from the profits made running a small business.  Your plan is fly to California and use the cash to purchase  another small business at a bargain price.  You have  been waiting patiently in line and are about to go through airport security. Drops of sweat begin to glide down your back. You are nervous about your hard-earned cash.  The TSA officer greats you with a friendly smile and begins to dig  deeply into the bottom reaches of your backpack. The officer detects a suspicious  bag.  The bag is removed  and opened. The TSA officer's jaw drops as he gazes upon stacks of crisp one hundred dollar bills.  Shortly thereafter, a DEA officer   arrives on the scene, seizes  the bag of money,  and orders  you to follow him to windowless room. You object to the seizure of your cash and inform the officer the money is all legitimate. The officer laughs in your face and tells you that's what all drug dealers say. You are offended and demand the  immediate return of your cash. Your plea is disregarded. The officer hands you a  receipt verifying that your cash has been seized by the DEA. You are free to leave,  but nowhere on the receipt does it indicate  how much cash was  taken. All you are told  is that you will  receive a letter within 60 days. What is going to happen and what should you do?

The seizure and forfeiture of property by the Government  has  been around along time. Last year the Government seized $4 billion through forfeiture. There are two types of forfeiture, criminal and civil. A criminal forfeiture is judicial and occurs when a person in indicted in federal court for a crime and the property seized is named in the indictment. The seized property can only be forfeited if the person is convicted and the property can be traced to or connected with the underlying crime. In a civil forfeiture proceeding, the action is commenced against the property, not the person. As a consequence, no one is ever charged with a crime.

In the above airport example, a civil forfeiture proceeding is commenced. Within 60 days of the seizure, the Government must send written notice of the seizure to the small business owner. If the Government fails to send notice of the seizure within the sixty day period, the seized property must be returned to the owner subject to the Government's right to commence a forfeiture proceeding at a later time.

Within 35 days after the mailing of the written notice of seizure letter, the business owner must file a claim of ownership to the property. The claim must specifically identify the property, state the claimant's interest in the property, and be made under oath, subject to the penalty of perjury. Within 90 days of filing the claim of ownership, the Government must file a forfeiture complaint in federal district court. If the Government fails to file a forfeiture complaint or obtain a criminal indictment within the 90 day period, they must promptly return the seized property to the owner and can take no further action against the property.

There is a long list of the type of property subject to forfeiture including property involved in transactions with money laundering, property traceable to federal loan fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, and controlled substance crimes. The burden of proof will be on the Government to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture. The Government in our example will need to prove that the fifty thousand dollars in cash  was derived from, or traceable to, any proceeds obtained directly or indirectly from the commission of a criminal offense. The claimant will need to introduce evidence as trial proving that the cash was derived from earnings made running a legitimate small business.

Don't let the Government take cash, homes and cars without anyone ever being convicted or  charged with  a crime. If you are a victim of a civil forfeiture proceeding,  call Minneapolis defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 and stand up for your rights. Mr. Shane will file a claim on your behalf and demand a prompt hearing to contest the civil forfeiture of your property.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

When Can Police Freeze a Suspected Drug House while Obtaining a Search Warrant?

Officers who conduct a lawful arrest may   freeze a suspected drug house  while obtaining a  search warrant.  Officers must have  probable cause to believe that evidence of criminal activity may be found on the premises. When officers freeze a drug house, all occupants  will be required to stay and will be detained   while other officers  engage in the process of obtaining a search warrant. No police search can occur in the suspected drug house  without a  warrant.
Confidential informants often provide police with reliable information to establish probable cause that a residence or business is being used to store drugs. This situation may occur when after a controlled buy of narcotics is made,  police observe a drug dealer go inside  a business or residence. In order to freeze the suspected drug house, police must reasonably fear that the occupants of the drug house will attempt to destroy any narcotics once they become aware of the arrest of the drug dealer.
If the police do not have probable cause to believe evidence of criminal activity will be found in a suspected drug house and police do not fear the immediate destruction of the  evidence,  the freezing of the drug house pending the issuance of the search warrant would be unconstitutional. The Fourth Amendment protects the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searched and seizures. U.S. Const. amend IV. When there is an illegal search and seizure by police, the evidence can not  be used against a defendant at criminal trial and the charge is dismissed.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense resulting from a drug raid, call criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website at for more information on the Best Defense.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Minnesota Robbery Defense Lawyer

One of the  central issues for the jury to decide in every robbery case  is  the identification of the suspect. The state will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the person who in fact committed the robbery.  A conviction will not stand if it is based on inaccurate testimony.

A person can be charged with simple robbery in Minnesota when there is a taking of personal property from a victim through the use of force or the threat of force.  Aggravated robbery occurs when  a suspect  uses  a dangerous weapon or inflicts bodily harm to remove  personal property from the  victim. 
What factors does the jury examine when deciding whether or not a defendant committed a  robbery? The court will instruct the jury to consider factors such as the opportunity of the witness to see the suspect at the time of the offense. Was the suspect wearing a hat with a visor covering the head and partially covering the face of the suspect? This lack of opportunity to view the suspect   could raise reasonable doubt in mind of the jury. A second factor is the length of time the witness had to view the suspect. The shorter the observation time, the greater the  doubt since the mind doesn't have the time to process the information. The third factor concerns the circumstances surrounding the view of the suspect by the witness. What were the lighting conditions, dark with shadows? What was the distance between the witness and the suspect? Where there any obstructions present to block the view? The fourth factor concerns the stress the victim was under at the time of the robbery. Stress has a way of distorting our memory and  casts doubt on the accuracy of any identification. A witness who experienced the intense stress of a robbery may wrongly report to  police the height, weight and facial features of the  suspect placing at risk the freedom of an innocent person who happens to match the descripiton. The final factor  relates to the length of time that passed between the time of the robbery and the time the witness identified  the suspect in a photo lineup. The greater the length of time, the greater the risk for misidentification since the accuracy of memory fades with time.
If you have been charged with  robbery in Minnesota or Wisconsin, call criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024. Mr. Shane has 30 years of criminal defense experience and recently obtained an acquittal for a client charged with aggravated robbery in Hennepin County, Minnesota. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

When Can Police Conduct a Pat Frisk?

Before the police can conduct a pat frisk, there must first be a lawful investigative stop. Police are allowed to temporarily detain a person or stop a car when there is reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed. The standard is less than the probable cause required for an arrest but more than a mere whim or idle curiosity. The Fourth Amendment prohibits any unreasonable search and seizure. If the investigative stop is determined by a judge to be unlawful, any evidence seized by the police as a result of a pat frisk is inadmissible in court
What if the investigative stop by the police was lawful, can they still  conduct a pat frisk? Yes, but only under limited circumstances. The police must have a reasonable suspicion that a person is armed and dangerous. If there is a reasonable suspicion that a person may be armed and dangerous, police may conduct a pat-down of a person's outer clothing to discover any weapons that may be used to assault the officer or any person  standing nearby. The reason behind the pat frisk law is to allow the officer to continue the  investigation  without fear of physical harm.
What factors would justify an officer in conducting a protective weapons search?  A suspect's appearance and actions are  important factors. For  example, a  bulge in a coat pocket in the shape of a gun or evasive conduct by the suspect could justify a pat frisk. The officer's knowledge of the suspect's criminal history is also a factor such as  a prior conviction for a violent crime. The neighborhood and time of day of the investigative stop may also be  factors. The type of crime for which a suspect is stopped may lead an officer to believe that a person is armed and dangerous. Crimes such as  robbery, burglary, rape, and high volume drug trafficking crimes  often justify a protective weapons search by  police.
A pat search for weapons must be limited to the outer area of a person's clothing. The scope of the search is limited to an attempt to discover guns, clubs, knives or any hidden item that could pose a threat to officer safety. If the officer detects an object thought to be a weapon, he would be justified in reaching into the suspect's clothing or a pocket to remove the item.
What if the officer exceeds the lawful scope of a pat frisk and removes contraband? The search and seizure would be deemed unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment and the evidence  inadmissible in court. If you have been a victim of an illegal pat frisk by the police, call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane now for a free phone consultation  at (612) 339-1024.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Do I have a Right to Make a Phone Call from Jail?

Yes, any person who is newly admitted as an inmate to a jail facility in Minnesota has a right to make either a local or collect long-distance phone call. The right to make a phone call from jail allows you to contact either a family member or a significant other and applies during the admission process. Inmates are also allowed to keep in contact with family members or significant others during their jail confinement. These calls must be collect calls and the minimum amount of time allowed per phone call is 10 minutes.
What about making a call to an attorney? Police officers are required by Minnesota law to provide a person who is in custody with private telephone access to an attorney who is either retained or to whom the restrained person is interested in consulting at no charge to the inmate or to the attorney. Police officers are required to provide reasonable phone access at the request of the person. The phone consultation with an attorney must take place before any other proceedings in the case, including a court appearance.
Is there a criminal penalty for failure to comply with the law? Yes, it's a misdemeanor offense for a police officer to deny phone access to any person who is restrained in a local jail facility.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When Can I Be Charged with Fleeing a Peace Officer in a Motor Vehicle?

It's  a felony offense in Minnesota for a driver to flee or to attempt to flee a police officer who is lawfully discharging his official duties when the driver knows or  reasonably  should know that he is being  pursued by a police officer.  The case normally begins by the officer attempting to execute a stop for  a traffic violation, a cancelled  or revoked driver's license, or for an outstanding warrant. The case usually involves  a driver increasing his speed to well over 100 mph combined with evasive driving conduct over a considerable distance.    The driver may eventually be stopped and arrested by the police or he may escape and avoid capture. If the suspect is arrested after the chase,  police will establish the identity of the driver. If the driver escapes, the police will follow up their investigation by using the plate number on the vehicle to track  the suspect to his residence for questioning in order to determine if he was the driver. 
The defense in a fleeing a peace officer case may focus on any of the following legal issues: (1) did the driver intentionally flee or attempt to flee the police officer; (2) was the officer lawfully discharging his official duty; (3) did the driver know or should he have known that he was being pursued by a police officer; and (4) was the suspect the same person who drove the vehicle on the date of the offense. If a suspect who escaped police pursuit is eventually caught, the police will attempt to gain an admission from him that he was in fact the driver. The suspect at this point should exercise his constitutional right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions from the police or police investigators. The suspect in a fleeing case should never discuss the facts of the case with any third person as they could potentially testify against him at trial regarding his statements. Please  do not discuss your case on a jailhouse phone as the conversation may be recorded. 
If you, or someone you know, has been arrested for fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane now for the "Best Defense"  at (612) 339-1024. Mr. Shane has been defending the freedom of the accused since 1983.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Best Defense in a Minnesota DWI Case

If your criminal defense attorney is  able to suppress the use of the blood, breath or urine test results  in your Minnesota DWI case, you will have found the key to winning your case. The use of a chemical test result by the prosecution is critical to a successful DWI prosecution. 

How does an experienced DWI attorney suppress the chemical test result? The defense lawyer will   file a motion with the court requesting that  the chemical test result not be allowed to be used  against you  at trial  on the grounds that the test result was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment.   What does the suppression of the chemical test for intoxication mean for your case? If the judge grants the motion to suppress the evidence, the prosecution  will lose the use of powerful scientific evidence to prove your intoxication at trial. The only evidence left  over  will be your driving conduct,  field sobriety test result, if any,  and statements you may have made about  alcohol or drug use. You now have plea bargaining strength and a chance for an acquittal at trial.

How were my Fourth Amendment rights violated by the police? There are only two ways the police can obtain a warrantless search for  blood alcohol concentration or the presence of a controlled substance in your body. The first is by obtaining your consent to conduct a warrantless search. The  second is by proving emergency conditions existed at the time of arrest which would justify the police in not first obtaining a search warrant from a judge. If the police did  not obtain your consent to search and there was no emergency circumstance,  police must first obtain a search warrant. If they failed to do so, your Fourth Amendment rights were violated. 

If you, or someone you know, has been charged with a Minnesota DWI, call Minneapolis DWI defense attorney Robert J. Shane for the Best Defense  at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information at