Bruce Ringstrom Jr. spent many years practicing criminal defense in Pennington County, winning not-guilty verdicts in cases ranging from domestic assault and felony theft to driving while impaired and criminal sexual conduct.

There are many criminal offenses charged in Minnesota both at the state and federal level. These offenses include sexual assault, robbery, theft, and many other types of crime. Criminal offenses in Minnesota may result in lengthy jail terms and hefty fines, depending on the severity of the offense. Being arrested for an alleged criminal offense can be very frustrating and confusing because anything you say during that trying moment can be used against you by the prosecutor.

At Ringstrom Law, we understand the consequences of misdemeanor and felony offenses on your record; even minor criminal charges like marijuana possession can tremendously affect your life. Having our experienced criminal defense attorneys by your side can give you one less thing to worry about if you are under arrest or investigation for any alleged criminal offense in Thief River Falls, Minnesota.

An Overview of Criminal Charges We Focus on Under Minnesota Law

We offer legal representation to our clients at every stage of criminal proceedings, from the time of investigation and arrest up through trial. Like in most states, a criminal charge can result in either a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the facts of the case and any possible aggravating factors surrounding the alleged offense, including criminal history.

A criminal charge remains only a charge until the judge gives a final ruling on the matter. A felony charge may result in severe penalties if you are found guilty at trial. Even with felony criminal charges, we may be able to help you make due process arguments to suppress certain pieces of evidence against you, which could help to reduce the charges to a less severe offense with less severe penalties, or even get the case dismissed. Below are a few examples of criminal offenses with which we can help you.

Driving While Impaired (Minn. Stat. § 169A)

Driving while impaired (DWI) is a charge made when someone has allegedly been operating or in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled or intoxicating substance to a degree that impairs their ability to operate or control that vehicle safely. This is among the crimes that are set out in Minnesota statutes by degree of severity, depending on the facts of the case, and may result in various penalties like

  • Imprisonment
  • Fines
  • Suspension or revocation of driving license

Fourth-degree driving while impaired is charged when it is a first offense of driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance; it is considered a misdemeanor. Third degree driving while impaired is charged when someone has operated a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance and there is one aggravating factor present at the time of violation. This becomes a gross misdemeanor. Second-degree driving while impaired is the same as a third-degree charge except there are two or more aggravating factors. This is also a gross misdemeanor. Aggregating factors include prior convictions within the past ten years of the offense.

Finally, first-degree driving while impaired is charged when it is a fourth DWI violation within ten years, there is a prior conviction of a felony under the DWI statute, or there is a previous conviction of a felony under substance-related criminal vehicular homicide or injury statutes. This charge is a felony.

In Minnesota, a DWI offense is shown when a person operating or in control of a motor vehicle has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater, even if no mental or physical impairment is noted. If you are not showing impairment, but an officer asks you if you have recently consumed a controlled or intoxicating substance and you admit that you have been, then you will be requested to perform various field sobriety tests. Depending on how you perform these tests, the officer may ask you to take a breathalyzer test, which will show your BAC level. The breathalyzer test will only measure alcohol concentration, not other controlled substances.

As with any other crime, the severity of the penalty will depend on the degree of DWI with which a person has been charged and the amount of harm, if any, that resulted from the conduct charged. DWIs range from misdemeanors to felonies. If you or any person close to you is arrested for a DWI offense in Minnesota, you need to consult with a criminal defense attorney to review the circumstances of the arrest as soon as possible. DWI charges are brought with regularity in Pennington County, Minnesota.

Robbery

Robbery is another criminal offense in Minnesota, the commission of which can lead to many years behind bars. Unlike theft, which is an independent criminal offense, robbery involves the willful taking of another person's property or money with the use of threat, intimidation, or violence against the person’s will. There are two types of robbery charges you can face under Minnesota law, which depend on the circumstances of the alleged offense. They are

  1. Simple robbery charge – This involves the use of threat and intimidation to take another person’s property, goods, or money without consent (Minn. Stat. § 609.24).
  2. Aggravated robbery charge – In a first-degree charge, this involves a theft where there has been use of an item that may be perceived as a dangerous weapon, or the infliction of bodily harm on another. In a second-degree charge, this involves a theft where there is an implication of possession of a dangerous weapon (Minn. Stat. § 609.245).

For you to receive a robbery conviction, the prosecutor must demonstrate the following elements of the crime beyond any reasonable doubts:

  • Intent to steal
  • Lack of ownership
  • Property is taken against the will of the owner
  • Use of violence or threats of violence in the commission of the offense

A simple robbery in Minnesota can result in up to ten years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $20,000, or both. First-degree aggravated robbery carries a sentence of up to 20 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $35,000, or both. Second-degree aggravated robbery carries a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $30,000, or both.

Domestic Assault (Minn. Stat. § 609.2242)

Domestic assault is another criminal offense in Minnesota that may be charged out at the misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony level. It is a misdemeanor to inflict a physical injury or fear of immediate physical injury or death on a family or household member. This type of conduct will result in a gross misdemeanor if a charge is brought within ten years of a prior qualifying conviction. Within the context of domestic assault laws in Pennington County or anywhere else in Minnesota, a family or household member could be any of the following people:

  • Blood relatives
  • Current and former spouses
  • People in a sexual relationship
  • Current and former co-habitants
  • Individuals having a child together
  • Parents and children

Penalties for domestic assault are variable according to the individual circumstances surrounding the alleged acts of domestic assault. When a domestic assault includes the use of a firearm, it is a gross misdemeanor offense. Gross misdemeanors carry a potential penalty of not less than one-year imprisonment, a fine of up to $3,000, or both. However, if other circumstances were surrounding the domestic assault, such as strangling, suffocation, or use of a weapon to inflict fear on the victim, this offense will become a felony.

If the defendant has two or more prior qualifying convictions of domestic assault within ten years of the current offense, the prosecutor can charge the new alleged offense as a felony. A felony domestic assault is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.

If you are facing a domestic assault charge at whatever level, you will want to retain a criminal defense attorney to ensure that you have the necessary representation to protect your rights.

Factors to Consider When Looking for a Criminal Defense Attorney in Thief River Falls

The chances of exonerating yourself from a criminal charge without legal representation are often quite low. In order to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation, you will need a reliable criminal defense attorney by your side who understands how the justice system works both outside and inside the courtroom. Below are some factors you should keep in mind when searching for a criminal defense attorney for legal representation on any criminal offense.

Experience and Expertise of the Attorney

There is no substitute for experience when it comes to criminal cases. The longer your prospective attorney has been representing defendants with criminal cases similar to yours, the more expertise that can be brought to bear in your particular case. Because not every criminal defense attorney specializes in your specific type of offense, it’s crucial to inquire from the prospective attorney if that attorney is equipped to handle your type of case before making any significant commitment.

Reputation

Secondly, you cannot ignore your prospective attorney’s reputation even if that attorney has significant experience in your type of case. One indicator of an attorney’s reputation may be past client reviews available on the attorney’s website or social media platforms. Look for a criminal defense attorney who is willing to provide you with past client testimonials showing the attorney’s record of success in criminal trials. Seeking referrals from your family, friends, and colleagues can also help you narrow down your options when searching for a reputable criminal defense attorney.

Confidentiality

Your relationship with your attorney can influence the outcome of your case in many ways. A reliable attorney should earn your trust from the first interaction so that you can be open with your private information, which can be crucial in building a legal defense to be used during the trial. If you have any doubts about your prospective attorney keeping your information confidential, you should look for another expert because that's already a huge red flag about the attorney’s professionalism.

Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Regardless of the magnitude of the criminal allegations you're facing, your freedom and future depend a great deal on the criminal defense attorney you decide to hire for legal representation. If you’re looking for a reliable and aggressive Thief River Falls criminal defense attorney for legal representation, Ringstrom Law is the firm to contact. At Ringstrom Law, we pride ourselves on being able to handle a variety of criminal offenses in Minnesota by providing our clients with outstanding legal representation to increase their chances of an acquittal or dismissal. Call us today at 218-284-0484 to keep your head above the water while our attorneys handle the court-related proceedings that lie ahead.