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Minneapolis Sex Offense Law Blog

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Minneapolis teacher makes admissions to police

Ask any criminal defense lawyer and he or she will tell you not to talk to police until you have a chance to talk to an attorney. It doesn't matter if you are guilty or innocent or know why you have been arrested or not; talking to police without consulting an attorney can be disastrous.

The problem is that once someone waives his or her rights to silence and an attorney, anything he or she says may be used by prosecutors. This evidence makes it incredibly difficult for a criminal defense lawyer to later negotiate a plea deal, to reduce charges, and, sometimes, to protect a client's rights. Just because someone is suspected of committing a crime, even a heinous crime, doesn't mean that his or her rights shouldn't be protected.

Can anyone get out of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program?

When an offender serves his or her sentence, he or she will be released from prison, correct? If the person was charged with a sex crime, the answer may be "no." In Minnesota, if someone is convicted of a sex crime and approaching his or her release date, the state may choose to have the individual civilly committed if it believes he or she will continue to be a threat to the community.

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program is designed to keep potentially dangerous sex offenders out of the public, but it has faced considerable criticism for years, in part because only two people have ever been released from the program. There are several phases to the treatment these civilly committed individuals are suppoesd to receive, but most won't make it out of Phase One. To make it to the third and final phase, it could take decades.

Making the decision to plead guilty

Being charged with a crime can be devastating, terrifying and confusing. And, for some people, it can be expected. Some of the people who are charged with crimes are guilty, and instead of trying to fight the charges, they are willing to plead guilty. Some people may see this as giving up or poor work on the part of his or her criminal defense attorney, but it is also important to realize that an attorney's job is not always to clear his or her client's name.

As was the case when a New Ulm man recently pled guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. Though he pled guilty, his criminal defense attorney did his job, his job just wasn't to get the defendant's charges dropped. Instead, the attorney negotiated with the prosecutor to come up with a plea bargain. In exchange for a guilty plea, the prosecutor would drop several of the original charges, including four other counts of possession of child pornography and three counts of disseminating pornographic works involving a minor.

A conviction is just the start of an offender's punishment

Many of us have heard the horror stories of being convicted for a sex crime and spending decades behind bars. From there, an offender must typically register on the Minnesota Sex Offender Registry List, a public database that lists the crimes one has committed, the location of the offender's home, and his or her place of employment. It is no wonder that many former offenders have trouble finding a place to live in Minneapolis.

Not everyone objects to having a former offender in the neighborhood, however, and some people even go so far as to provide services to released offenders in need. Though this week's story comes from Alabama, it is a situation which can and has happened across the country.

When teens confess, they risk their freedom and safety

In the 1980s, much of the country was fixated on New York and the case of the Central Park jogger. For those people in Minneapolis who are old enough to remember, a woman was savagely beaten and raped. When five teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16 were arrested and confessed to the crime, it seemed that we could put the story behind us. Twelve years later, however, it was clear that the then-teenagers had given false confessions and were not responsible for the crime.

What is particularly shocking about this case, beyond the fact that these teenagers would confess to such a serious crime if they did not commit it, is that this story is hardly unique. In a review of a 15-year period of exonerations, a study found that nearly 50 percent of the juveniles who were exonerated had given false confessions. Among younger defendants, the rate climbed to 69 percent. Adult exonerees, however, only gave false confessions 13 percent of the time.

281 people arrested on child-related sex crimes

The FBI has been working across the country to bring down individuals accused of sexually exploiting children and has recently coordinated with 54 different field offices as part of Operation Cross Country. The results of this operation have only now come to light: 281 individuals have been arrested on suspicion of child-related sex crimes, many of whom are being called "pimps" by the FBI and the media.

It is unknown if anyone from Minnesota was arrested as part of this sting, but if they have been, they face an uphill battle in getting a fair trial. It is very hard for people to not jump to conclusions when they hear the words "child-related sex crimes." Emotions run high and most people want someone convenient to blame, and many see no one more convenient than the individual on trial. The problem is, however, that the person on trial is supposed to be presumed innocent unless and until her or she is proven guilty.

Hennepin County judge clears comedian's name

Sometimes things can go a little too far, especially when people drink. While a situation may become uncomfortable or uneasy, it does not necessarily mean that it is criminal. Fortunately for an out-of-town comedian, a Hennepin County judge recognized that when he found the comedian not guilty of third- and fourth-degree sexual assault. The comedian was also cleared of an indecent exposure charge.

Had he been convicted, the comedian would have faced serious consequences, as all the charges, with the exception of indecent exposure, were felonies. Not only would he become a convicted felon and would likely serve time in prison, he would also be forced to register with the Minnesota state sex offender registry. For most people, that would ruin any real chance at a career.

Teenagers arrested on charges of producing child pornography

It goes without saying that teenagers don't always do what is right or wise. Everyone makes mistakes, but teenagers seem to make more than most, but whether those mistakes should be considered criminal is sometimes open for interpretation. Sadly, sometimes those mistakes are hard to move past and the consequences can literally be life-altering. Being convicted of production and distribution of child pornography can mean years in prison, registration on the Minnesota sex offender registry, fines and the general contempt of society.

And, on first blush, some people may say, "Well, if they have been convicted of making child porn, they deserve the punishment." What people may not understand, however, is that if two consenting teenagers make a sex tape, it would be considered child pornography, provided one of the individuals is under 18. And that is what landed two hockey players in trouble while at an away game in Moorhead.

Sex charges against Minnesota school principal dropped

The principal of a school in western Minnesota had been facing serious felony rape charges for roughly six months. Prosecutors, however, filed paperwork with the court earlier this week to dismiss the criminal case. As we reported in December, the man was accused sexually assaulting an adult acquaintance at his home last winter.

The two had spent an evening together at a local establishment, according to authorities. The two decided to go to the man’s home. The woman later accused the man of having sex with her without her consent. In all, prosecutors filed four counts accusing the man of criminal sexual conduct offenses, including two counts alleging first-degree sex crimes.

Judge acquits traveling comedian in Minnesota sex crime trial

A person facing felony criminal charges in Minnesota has the right to take the allegations before a jury. Many criminal cases do not go to trial, for one reason or another. In some cases, a person may waive his or her right to have a jury determine the facts and have the case tried before a judge. The analysis of whether to try a case before a judge in a bench trial instead of a jury may be complicated and should not be taken lightly. Criminal defense lawyers may provide advice on the issue as a part of representing a client.

In March, we reported that a comedian was charged with criminal sexual conduct after he appeared at a comedy club at the Mall of America. He chose to have a judge hear the facts during a bench trial in Hennepin County.

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