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Minneapolis Criminal & Family Law Blog

Minneapolis case raises questions about entrapment

By now, many of our Hennepin County readers have already heard about the criminal charges that have been levied against six Minneapolis men for their alleged plans to "leave the country and join the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)." Now facing charges of conspiracy and attempt to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, explains the FBI, the men could face considerable consequences if they are convicted.

But the charges against the men have raised some rather important questions, especially concerning the lead up to their arrests. There are some in the community, as you may already know, who have concerns that techniques may have been used to entrap the men. Although U.S. Attorney Andy Luger insisted this month that the FBI did not entrap the men, the question has now been raised and can only be answered over the course of the trial.

Teen avoids prison time in drug-related death of 17-year-old friend

Roughly one year ago, we wrote a blog post about five Minnesota teens who were facing serious criminal charges related to the overdose death of a 17-year-old Woodbury girl. The five were accused of providing the girl with a synthetic drug that was manufactured to mimic the effects of the hallucinogenic drug LSD.

Since their indictments last May, four out of the five teenage defendants have been sentenced in relation to the girl's death. Most-recently, one of the teens pleaded guilty to criminal charges including third-degree murder for his role in the girl's death. The teen claimed to be a close friend to the girl who he sold two hits of the synthetic drug for $20.

Some important divorce considerations in the post-recession economy

Arriving at the momentous decision to pursue a divorce is typically not an easy process for most people. That's largely because they must not only deal with a host of conflicting emotions, but also ponder how the next post-divorce chapter of their life might look.

Interestingly enough, however, this decision was much easier in recent years, as the economic tumult of the Great Recession and its lingering aftermath led many couples to put off pursuing a divorce given that it could be financially detrimental to them both.

Seeing divorce as a beginning

Relationships, especially those between spouses, are often extremely complex. Years of history and experiences, both the good and bad, often serve to keep spouses together. While traditional marriage vows include the promise of being by a spouse's side, "for better or worse," when the bad times begin to consistently outweigh the good, it may be time to explore one's options.

There are numerous reasons why spouses who are unhappy in a marriage may choose to stay in a bad and unfulfilling marriage. For example; shared children, financial concerns and personal insecurities and fears are all common factors that keep unhappily wed couples together. There comes a point, however, when an individual must take a hard and realistic look at his or her marriage and personal situation and make the decision to leave.

Minnesota bill seeks to restrict access to police body camera footage

In recent months, there's been much debate and discourse among Americans about police officers and use of excessive and deadly force. In an effort to regain the public’s trust and provide for more transparency, many police departments across the U.S. have adopted the widespread use of police body cameras. In Minnesota, respondents of the 2015 Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association revealed that body cameras are currently being used by 41 police departments throughout the state.

While the benefits of police body cameras in aiding in criminal cases and reducing incidents of police violence are often discussed, concerns remain about how the footage is stored, accessed and disposed of. Members of the Minnesota Senate recently voiced their opinion on these matters when they passed a measure that would restrict who can access police body camera footage.

Do joint custody arrangements serve to hurt or help kids?

For parents who divorce or split up, concerns about how a child will adjust and be impacted are often top-of-mind. Previously family judges tended to favor mothers in custody cases, however, today an estimated one-fifth of U.S. child custody cases involve joint arrangements where parents share physical custody rights. While some believe that joint custody arrangements serve to harm a child by creating a constant state of flux as a child goes back and forth between parents, research indicates otherwise.

A recent study conducted by Swedish researchers and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, examined the psychosomatic health problems of some 150,000 sixth and ninth grade students. Of those children surveyed, 19 percent had parents who shared joint custody and 13 percent lived primary with just one parent.

Report details how flawed science was used to send hundreds to prison

In the criminal justice system, prosecutors and defense attorneys often rely upon forensic evidence. Forensic experts are trained to use science to examine evidence and discover truths. However, information uncovered in recent years shows that much of the forensic and scientific truths used to convict hundreds to thousands of individuals in the U.S. were likely based on little more than speculation and convenience.

Recent new stories have shined a spotlight on allegations that testimony provided by members of the "elite FBI forensic unit" provided inaccurate and flawed testimony "in almost all trials in which they offered evidence...over more than a two-decade period before 2000." Consequently, hundreds to thousands of men and women were likely prosecuted and convicted for crimes they never committed.

A prenuptial agreement's terms can be very impactful

What the specific terms are of a prenuptial agreement can impact many things.

One is whether or not the agreement will ultimately be enforced. When a prenup's terms are deemed to be unfair in a significant way to one of the parties to the agreement, the agreement may be found to be unenforceable.

Finding solutions to child support problems

In previous blogs, we've discussed the importance and purpose of child support payments. In most cases, for divorced parents or those who were never married but are no longer together, a noncustodial parent is ordered to pay child support.

In Minnesota, child support amounts are calculated by taking many factors into consideration including the gross incomes of both parents, the number of children being supported, other existing child support orders, child care costs and a child's medical and dental expenses. In cases where a noncustodial parent fails to pay or falls behind in payments, the state may employ several enforcement tactics.

Constitutionality of penalties imposed on sex offenders called into question

In this blog, we've previously highlighted concerns about the constitutionality of Minnesota's Sex Offender Program. Perhaps more than any other convicted offenders, those convicted of sex crimes face some of the most punitive and intrusive of all penalties.

For example, in addition to the other possible penalties of prison time and probation, all states have their own laws and restrictions with regard to sex offender registries. In Minnesota, individuals convicted of certain sexual charges must register and abide by certain restrictions and requirements for a minim of 10 years. Some states impose lifetime registry requirements and other penalties including the use of Global Positioning Monitoring devices.


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Juvenile Criminal
Defense Strategies

Christa Jacqueline Groshek
© 2012 Aspatore Books from
Thomson Reuters Westlaw.
Reproduced by permission