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Minneapolis Criminal & Family Law Blog

Domestic abuse allegations and their impact on child custody determinations

Many people are aware that courts take into account a wide variety of factors when making child custody determinations. Collectively, these factors are referred to as the best interests of the child. Included in the statutory list of these factors is everything from the medical, mental health and educational needs of the child to the willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child and to cooperate with the other parent.

One particularly important factor courts take into consideration when determining the best interest of the child for purposes of custody is whether there has been domestic abuse in the picture. Obviously, abuse of the child is a very serious issue and would dictate against the abusing parent receiving a favorable custody determination, but Minnesota law also directs judges to consider other forms of abuse as well.

How do I talk to a toddler about divorce?

For parents going through a divorce, how to communicate changes to their children is often a top priority. It is important for parents to realize though that how one will talk to a teen or older child is different from how these same changes will be told to a toddler. 

Natasha Daniels is a child therapist who often works with kids whose parents are going through a divorce.  In a recent article titled, "5 Steps to Cover When Going Through a Divorce With a Toddler," she provides advice on age-appropriate communication and expectation setting. 

Drug crime sentencing in line for a partial overhaul p2

We are talking about a Senate bill announced last week that could make long-hoped for changes to the sentencing system. The bill was crafted by a bipartisan group of Senators in what commentators have called a rare instance of collaboration. Mandatory sentences for low-level drug crimes have been blamed for ballooning corrections budgets and unprecedented growth in prison population.

As we explained in our last post, the bill would reward inmates participating in rehabilitation programs with time taken off their sentences: For every 30 days spent in a program, 10 days would be shaved off the inmate's sentence. (Note: The bill does not call for new program funding. The rehabilitation programs referred to already exist or have separate funding sources.)

Drug crime sentencing in line for a partial overhaul

There may be hope for Minnesota's nonviolent drug offenders who have been caught in the mandatory minimum sentencing trap. A bipartisan group led by Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has introduced a bill that would change some of the more onerous aspects of sentencing for nonviolent drug crimes. Among the provisions is the elimination of the "three-strikes" mandatory life sentence and the introduction of a process that would make early release possible for some inmates. 

The mandatory minimums system has been under fire for some time. As one advocate puts it, "People are being entangled in the justice system who just shouldn't be.… And when they come out, they're better criminals, they're not better citizens." We talked about the same concerns regarding juvenile detention in our July 31 post: They may be kids making mistakes when they go out there, but they come back more skillful criminals.

Is there a legal obligation to pay up for failed wedding promise?

A Minneapolis woman has found her 15-minutes of fame on social media after she sent a bill to her relative for money owed. The bill was a request for $75.90, the cost of two meals at the reception for her wedding.

Why the bill? The "debtor" had sent an RSVP confirming her attendance to the "no children allowed" event per the bride's wishes. When the guest's babysitter told her at the last minute that she couldn't be there, it forced the woman to stay home and let two paid-for meals go to waste.

As time goes by: Can you be arrested for a crime committed years ago? p2

Inspector Javert, the incorruptible policeman in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, makes it his life's work to track down Jean Valjean. For literature students, at least, Javert is the embodiment of relentless pursuit. It matters not what Valjean's crime is: The man has broken the law and must be brought to justice. After a few chapters, we can't even remember what Valjean's crime was.

Could it happen in Minnesota? At least, could it happen in this country and in this century? Even if law enforcement does pursue a suspected criminal for decades, is an arrest still possible?

What is certification?

Depending on the severity of the alleged crime, the court may certify a juvenile defendant as an adult. If a child is successfully certified, the juvenile court will lose jurisdiction over the criminal matter, and the case will be transferred to adult criminal court.

The certification process commences when a prosecutor files a formal request or “motion” after a juvenile delinquency matter has been initiated. A motion to certify a juvenile as an adult can only be filed if certain criteria are met and the child is between 14 and 17 years old.

Do I need to worry about asset forfeiture after an arrest?

Are you familiar with the term "civil asset forfeiture?" If not, you're not alone. According to a Huffington Post survey, 72 percent of Americans are completely unaware of the fact that police, in many states, can seize property during criminal investigations, oftentimes keeping it. It's a controversial part of our legal system that many should oppose, which was a point aptly made by comedian John Oliver on his show "Last Week Tonight."

As some of our Minneapolis readers may know because of Oliver's show or because of the increasing amount of news releases on the subject, the two main arguments against civil asset forfeiture laws are that police can keep property even if a defendant is never convicted and the burden of proof rests solely on the shoulders of defendants who want to reclaim their property. It's because of these facts that some of today's readers may be asking the question above:

As time goes by: Can you be arrested for a crime committed years ago?

As the song says, moonlight and love songs are never out of date, but criminal charges may be. Before we start talking about statutes of limitations for the prosecution of certain crimes, though, we need to explain a few things.

First, a definition: According to Black's Law Dictionary, a statute of limitation is a law (state or federal) that establishes a time limit for prosecuting a crime. The limit is based on the date when the offense occurred, not on the date the offense was discovered.

In an accident and not sure what to do? Call Groshek Law for guidance

Last week, an Isanti County boy died in a hit-and-run accident. The 14-year-old was skateboarding near the middle of the road, authorities said, when a white truck struck and killed him. The truck did not stop, though, and the sheriff's office asked the public for help identifying the driver.

The sheriff's statement included information about the truck as well as an important observation: Authorities believed the boy's death was a “terrible accident” involving no "malicious intent.” They also said that the driver might not have realized he had even struck the boy: The accident occurred about an hour after sunset, and the boy had a slight build and was wearing dark clothing.


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Juvenile Criminal
Defense Strategies

Christa Jacqueline Groshek
© 2012 Aspatore Books from
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