Detroit Lakes Criminal Defense

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Dealing with the criminal justice system can be stressful and debilitating, especially when you have been arrested and are facing charges. If you were arrested or are under investigation for a crime, you risk a conviction; and in addition to the legal consequences, you may face other long-term consequences in relation to any criminal conviction. A conviction on your criminal record affects your ability to seek a job or hold a public office in the future. This is because your criminal record is visible to potential employers when doing a background check, and portions of your record may be found online. Having a Detroit Lakes criminal lawyer on your side will help.

If you or a loved one is facing charges for drug-related crimes, violent felonies, misdemeanors, or sexual misconduct in Detroit Lakes and Becker County, contact Ringstrom Law. Our skilled attorneys will review your case and help build a strong defense.

Here we will highlight some different charges you may face, for which we may be able to help.

Homicide

There are different degrees (levels) of homicide that can be charged out in the state of Minnesota. The degree of the charge will depend on the circumstances surrounding the alleged victim’s death and the extent to which the person charged with homicide is alleged to have intended the harm done.

First Degree Murder

First-degree murder (Minn. Stat. § 609.185) is the highest level of homicide charged in Minnesota characterized by the intention to cause the death of another person. This intention to cause the death is shown by premediation, or the planning of the acts designed to cause death. (Minn. Stat. § 609.18) There are, however, other situations where a first-degree murder charge may be brought, specifically where the conditions surrounding someone’s death indicate that the person charged acted with extreme indifference to human life. Finally, this charge may be brought where a death occurs during the commission of criminal sexual misconduct in the first or second degree.

When charging a defendant with this crime, the prosecution considers many factors, including:

  • Whether the death occurred during the commission of or attempt to commit another crime
  • Whether the targeted victim was someone performing official state duties when the crime was committed
  • Whether there was premeditation and/or an intention to effectuate the death of the victim
  • Whether the person causing death acted with extreme indifference to human life.
  • Before you are convicted of murder in Minnesota, the prosecutor must establish not only that your conduct caused the death of another, but also that your conduct was designed to that end or was otherwise egregiously dangerous under the circumstances. A conviction of first degree murder in Minnesota results in a life sentence.

Second Degree Murder

A second-degree murder charge also requires an intention to cause death, but it does not include the premeditated planning to murder another (Minn. Stat. § 609.19). This charge may also be brought when a death is caused as a result of a drive-by shooting, whether the crime is completed or only attempted (that is to say, even if the drive-by shooting wasn’t successful in its purposes, as long as someone was killed, a defendant may be charged with second degree murder).

Under some circumstances, there is no intent requirement for a second-degree murder charge. For example, this charge may be brought if death is caused during the commission of or attempt to commit a felony, except criminal sexual misconduct in the first and second degrees (which both fall under first degree murder). Likewise, there is no intent requirement when a murder is committed without intent but where the charged person was intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm on the victim while there had been a protection order in place to restrain the person charged.

A conviction of second-degree murder results in a sentence of up to forty years in prison.

Third Degree Murder

A third-degree murder does not include an intent to cause death (Minn. Stat. § 609.195). Instead, the death must be the result of eminently dangerous behavior and having a depraved mind with no regard for human life. A conviction under these circumstances will result in a prison sentence for up to 25 years.

If death is caused without intent due in any part to the imparting of a Schedule I or II controlled substance to others, a third-degree murder charge accusation may be made. Conviction under these conditions will result in up to 25 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $40,000, or both.

First Degree Manslaughter

Manslaughter in the first degree requires an intent to cause death in some situations but not in others (Minn. Stat. § 609.20). Where an intent to cause death is an element of the crime, that intent must arise either (1) in the heat of passion following a provocation that would cause a person of ordinary control to react in like manner, or (2) because the actor was coerced to cause death by another party in order to save his own life or that of another.

Where no intention to cause death is necessary, there are additional circumstances under which this charge may be brought. First, in the commission of a fifth-degree assault, it is first-degree manslaughter when the force and violence used made the death reasonably foreseeable. Second, anyone shown to be involved in the imparting of Schedule II, IV, or V controlled substances that result in someone’s death may face this charge. And third, this charge may be brought where death is caused in the malicious punishment of a child.

Conviction of manslaughter in the first degree will result in up to 15 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $30,000, or both.

Second Degree Manslaughter

Manslaughter in the second degree charges are made when death results from the culpable negligence of another or from the setting of a trap (Minn. Stat. § 609.205). Culpable negligence may be found where an unreasonable risk was consciously taken that one’s conduct might result in serious bodily harm or death. This crime may be charged by negligently shooting a person believing them to be an animal, by negligently or intentionally exposing someone to an animal with known vicious propensities, or by negligently endangering a child.

Driving While Impaired

Criminal Penalties

Minnesota law defines Driving While Impaired (“DWI”) as operating or being in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or an intoxicating substance causing impairment, or having a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of 0.08 or more within two hours of a traffic stop. (Minn. Stat. § 169A.20) In the case of an operator of a commercial motor vehicle, this charge may be levied with a BAC of only 0.04 within two hours of a traffic stop. Your BAC is taken after you are stopped by traffic officers, and due to the “implied consent” laws, refusal to complete a BAC test is a chargeable offense. A person may be charged with a DWI for operating a motorboat, snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, motorcycle, or off-road vehicle while impaired.

Like many other criminal statutes, DWI charges are categorized by degree. A first-time DWI in Minnesota is typically charged as fourth-Degree DWI and is a misdemeanor charge. (Minn. Stat. § 169A.27) However, if there is an aggravating factor at the time of violation or a refusal to submit to a BAC test, third-Degree DWI will be charged, which is a gross misdemeanor. (Minn. Stat. §169A.26) A second-Degree DWI charge is made when there are two or more aggravating factors at the time of violation, or only one aggravating factor plus a refusal to submit to a BAC test. (Minn. Stat. § 169A.25) This is also a gross misdemeanor.

Aggravating factors include having a prior DWI conviction, a BAC of 0.16 or higher, or a child under 16 years of age in the motor vehicle at the time of the violation (so long as the minor child is more than 36 months younger than the offender). (Minn. Stat. § 169A.03) For a misdemeanor conviction, there may be a term of imprisonment up to 90 days, a fine up to $1,000, or both. For a gross misdemeanor conviction, there may be a term of imprisonment up to one year, a fine up to $3,000, or both.

First-Degree DWI is a felony charge. (Minn. Stat. § 169A.24; Minn. Stat. § 169A.276) This statute applies when a DWI charge has been brought within ten years of the first of three prior DWI charges or there has been a previous felony conviction for causing injury or death under a substance-related offense. The penalty for this highest level of DWI offense is imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine of up to $14,000, or both.

A second DWI offense within ten years results in a minimum 30 days of incarceration and requires that no less than 48 hours be served at a correctional center, or each day less than the 30 day minimum incarceration period may be fulfilled by eight hours of community service. (Minn. Stat. § 169A.275)

The penalty for a third DWI offense within ten years is a minimum of 90 days of incarceration, requiring that no less than 30 days be served at a correctional center, or an intensive supervision program (that is, probation) that includes spending a minimum of six consecutive days at a correctional center.

A fourth DWI offense within ten years requires incarceration for a minimum of 180 days with no less than 30 served at a correctional center, an intensive probation program with no less than six consecutive days spent at a correctional center, or a minimum staggered sentencing of 180 days incarceration with no less than 30 days consecutively spent at a correctional center.

Five or more DWI offenses within ten years results in a minimum of one year of incarceration with no less than 60 consecutive days spent at a correctional center, an intensive probation program with no less than six consecutive days spent at a correctional center, or a minimum staggered sentencing of one year of incarceration with no less than 60 days consecutively spent at a correctional center.

Administrative Penalties

In addition to the criminal consequences of a DWI, as noted above, there are also administrative consequences. Both failing a BAC test or refusing to submit to one may result in the revocation of a person’s driver’s license. (Minn. Stat. § 169A.52)

In the case of a test refusal, the license revocation period is at least one year for a first DWI offense. For each DWI offense within the ten-year period preceding the current violation, an additional year of revocation is imposed. Once a person reaches their fifth violation (plus any in addition to that) within ten years, the revocation period becomes not less than six years.

In the case of a test failure (that is, a BAC result of 0.08 or greater), the revocation period is 90 days. However, once the BAC reaches twice the legal limit (0.16 or greater), the revocation period jumps to one year. If the person who violates the DWI laws is under the age of 21, the revocation period will be 180 days, but also jumps to one year if the BAC reaches twice the legal limit. With each additional DWI conviction within the past ten-year period, the revocation period increases in the same manner as for a test refusal, as described above.

In the case of a felony charge, conditional release from detention at a correctional center will require that the registration plates for the vehicle used in the DWI violation be impounded. (Minn. Stat. § 169A.44) Registration plates will also be impounded if a person is found driving a motor vehicle while their driving privileges have been revoked. (Minn. Stat. § 168.041)

In some cases, a person whose license has been revoked may be issued a limited license for the purpose of allowing that person to transport him or herself to work, rehabilitative services, medical treatment, or educational institutions. (Minn. Stat. § 171.30) If the registration plates have been impounded, the person may apply for special plates for each vehicle he or she intends to drive. (Minn. Stat. § 168.041)

Minnesota DWI law is complicated, and the circumstances of each case are different. The severity of the penalties you face will be affected by your criminal history. Repeat offenders always receive harsher sentences. A Detroit Lakes attorney with real experience in Becker County can review your case’s facts and help decide the best action.

Assault

Criminal charges for any form of assault will have detrimental effects on your future should you be convicted. The penalties for assault in Minnesota are some of the most severe in the nation. The law defines assault as an act meant to cause severe injury or death to the victim. The different degrees of assault include:

  • First-degree assault: A first-degree assault is an act that causes great bodily harm to another. If convicted, you could spend up to 20 years in prison. You may also pay a $30,000 fine. (Minn. Stat. § 609.221)
  • Second-degree assault: The use of a dangerous weapon to assault another person results in a second-degree assault charge (this charge is common when a defendant is alleged to have simply pointed a gun at someone else, even when no one was harmed). If convicted, you may serve up to a seven-year prison sentence. You may also pay a fine of $14,000. (Minn. Stat. § 609.222). The infliction of substantial bodily harm with a dangerous weapon may result in a sentence of up to ten years and a $20,000 fine.
  • Third-degree assault: An assault that causes substantial bodily harm to another or is directed at a minor is a third-degree offense.The sentence imposed may be up to a five-year sentence and a fine up to $10,000. (Minn. Stat. § 609.223)
  • Fourth-Degree Assault: A fourth-degree assault is found when there has been an assault on a peace officer, firefighter, emergency medical personnel, or other state workers. It is punishable by up to a three-year sentence. There may also be a fine up to $6,000. (Minn. Stat. § 609.2231)
  • Fifth-Degree Assault: A fifth-degree assault is predicated on an accusation of committing an act with the intent of causing fear of bodily harm or death (assault fear), or acting to cause injury or bodily harm (assault harm). Fifth degree assault is typically a misdemeanor that may be punished with up to 3 months of jail, or a $1,000 fine or both. Under certain circumstances, fifth-degree assault may be aggravated to a gross misdemeanor or a felony.

Besides the legal penalties that accompany assault convictions, you may find it difficult to obtain employment in the future. However, with guidance from a Detroit Lakes criminal lawyer, you can fight the charges and have a better chance of evading the penalties.

Drug Crimes

There are several forms of felony and lesser charges in Minnesota that apply to drug offenses. Use, possession, manufacture, and sale of controlled substances may result in serious charges. The severity of your charges in drug-related crimes will be determined largely by your criminal history and the type of offense you are alleged to have committed.

First Degree Drug Crimes

As with other crimes, drug charges are broken into degrees of severity. In drug cases, the greater the amount of illegal substance involved in the crime, the greater the degree of severity and, therefore, the higher the penalty imposed upon conviction. A first-degree charge is the highest level of drug offense, carrying the greatest penalty (in Minnesota, First is Worst). A first-degree drug charge may be brought based on the sale, possession, or manufacture of an illegal substance. (Minn. Stat. § 152.021)

A first-degree charge for sale of a controlled substance is brought when a certain amount of controlled substance has been sold within a 90-day period. For this charge to apply, the amount of controlled substance sold depends on the particular controlled substance. The different drug quantities falling under this charge include:

  • 17 grams or more of a mixture with cocaine or methamphetamine
  • 10 grams or more of a mixture with cocaine or methamphetamine and either a firearm was brandished or used in the sale or the offense involved two aggravating factors
  • 10 grams or more of a mixture with heroin
  • 50 grams or more of a mixture with a narcotic drug other than cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin
  • 50 grams or more of a mixture with amphetamine, phencyclidine, or hallucinogen, or 200 or more packaged dosages
  • 25 kilograms or more of a mixture with marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols

A first-degree possession charge arises from the unlawful possession of a controlled substance under the following circumstances:

  • 50 grams or more of a mixture with cocaine or methamphetamine
  • 25 grams or more of a mixture with cocaine or methamphetamine and either a firearm was brandished or used in the sale or the offense involved two aggravating factors
  • 25 grams or more of a mixture with heroin
  • 500 grams or more of a mixture with a narcotic drug other than cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin
  • 500 grams or more of a mixture with amphetamine, phencyclidine, or hallucinogen, or 500 or more packaged dosages
  • 50 kilograms or more of a mixture with marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols, or possession of 500 or more marijuana plants

The manufacture of any amount of methamphetamine is a first-degree controlled substance crime. Aggravated charges may be brought when extremely high amounts of drug quantities are involved, a firearm is involved, or multiple aggravating factors are found in addition to the above.

There are various circumstances that may be considered an aggravating factor contributing to this higher-level charge. (Minn. Stat. § 152.01, subd. 24) These may include things like criminal history, gang affiliation, and crossing county, state, or international borders, among others. Controlled substances are broken down into five different schedules. (Minn. Stat. § 152.02)

A conviction of a first-degree controlled substance crime is a felony and carries a sentence of imprisonment for up to 30 years, a fine of up to $1,000,000, or both. If the conviction is subsequent to prior controlled substance convictions, there is a minimum sentence of 4 years and a maximum sentence of 40 years, in addition to a possible $1,000,000 fine. Manufacture and aggravated charges have higher penalties. Criminal charges for first-degree drug crimes are very serious, so seeking guidance from an attorney is vital.

Second Degree Drug Crimes

Similar to a first-degree charge, a second-degree sale or possession of controlled substances charge is brought based on the quantity of the controlled substance involved in the commission of the crime. For a sale charge, the quantity is based again on a 90-day period. A second-degree sale charge involves one of the following quantities of controlled substances:

  • 10 grams or more of a mixture with a narcotic drug, not including heroin
  • 3 grams or more of a mixture with cocaine or methamphetamine and either a firearm was brandished or used in the sale or the offense involved three aggravating factors
  • 3 grams or more of a mixture with heroin
  • 10 grams or more of a mixture with amphetamine, phencyclidine, or hallucinogen, or 50 or more packaged dosages
  • 10 kilograms or more of a mixture with marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols
  • Any amount under specified circumstances

A second-degree possession charge involves one of the following quantities of controlled substances:

  • 25 grams or more of a mixture with cocaine or methamphetamine
  • 10 grams or more of a mixture with cocaine or methamphetamine and either a firearm was brandished or used in the sale or the offense involved three aggravating factors
  • 6 grams or more of a mixture with heroin
  • 50 grams or more of a mixture with a narcotic drug other than cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin
  • 50 grams or more of a mixture with amphetamine, phencyclidine, or hallucinogen, or 100 or more packaged dosages
  • 25 kilograms or more of a mixture with marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols, or possession of 100 or more marijuana plants

A second-degree controlled substance crime is a felony and is punishable by up to 25 years of imprisonment, a fine up to $500,000, or both. If the conviction is subsequent to prior controlled substance convictions, there is a minimum sentence of 3 years and a maximum sentence of 40 years, in addition to a possible $500,000 fine.

Lesser Degree Drug Crimes

As the amount of controlled substances involved in a crime decreases, the degree of the offense also changes. A third-degree controlled substance sale or possession conviction carries a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, or both. (Minn. Stat. § 152.023) A fourth-degree controlled substance sale or possession conviction carries a sentence of up to 15 years, a fine of up to $100,000, or both. (Minn. Stat. § 152.024) Finally, a fifth-degree controlled substance sale or possession conviction carries a sentence of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. (Minn. Stat. § 152.025)

With guidance from a Detroit Lakes attorney who understands the Becker County court system, you can fight the charges and the harsh consequences that result from a conviction.

Find a Criminal Lawyer Near Me

Being arrested is an unpleasant, confusing, and stressful experience for you and your family. The period between your arrest and conviction is long, and it could be easy to provide incriminating information against yourself. Too many interrogations could compel you to accept plea offers, which you may not understand.

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Get Help With Your Case From a Detroit Lakes Criminal Lawyer

Seeking guidance from a Detroit Lakes attorney is crucial when you are facing this situation. At Ringstrom Law, we have the skills and experience to handle all violent and nonviolent criminal offenses. We have been practicing criminal defense in Becker County and Detroit Lakes for decades. Regardless of your charge’s severity, we will help you present strong defenses to avoid the penalties that accompany a conviction. Contact our defense attorneys today at 218-284-0484 if you have been charged in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and allow us to fight for your rights.

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