The following are upcoming changes to the Minnesota criminal statutes from chapter 65 of the 2015 Minnesota Session Laws.
Art. 3 § 1-2
Effective August 1st 2015, participants in Minnesota’s statewide address confidentiality program will have further protections. Previously, Minnesota Statute 5B .11 allowed courts or other tribunals to issue a protective order to prevent disclosure of personal information for individuals in the program who are testifying in a legal proceeding. With this new change, the procedure of protecting the information of individuals in the program gained more specific guidelines as it involves legal proceedings.
If someone’s address is protected through the program, no person or entity shall be compelled to disclose that address during any discovery or court proceeding unless the court finds that there is a reasonable belief the address is needed to obtain information without which the investigation, litigation, prosecution, etc. cannot proceed. Or, there is no other practicable way of obtaining the information. If a disclosure of information is sought, the program participant must be notified and given the opportunity to present evidence regarding the potential harm to their safety if the address is disclosed. The court will then consider if the benefits of disclosure outweigh the potential harm. If the address is disclosed, it will be disseminated no wider than necessary to accomplish the intended investigation. This law change does not affect the court’s ability to issue a protective order over information other than the person’s address.
Additionally, when an investigation involves other kinds of classified data, and a government entity opposes the discovery of that data, the person seeking access can bring before the court and action to compel discovery. If the data is discoverable, then the court will weigh the benefit of discovery against the confidentiality interests.
Art. 3 § 31
A new change in the law effective August 1st 2015 creates a gross misdemeanor penalty for purchasing a firearm on behalf of anyone who is ineligible to purchase one themselves. This will be Minnesota Statute 624.7133 and it reads:
“Any person who purchases or otherwise obtains a firearm on behalf of or for transfer to a person known to be ineligible to possess or purchase a firearm pursuant to federal or state law is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.”
Based on the wording the statute, to be convicted of this gross misdemeanor you would have to know that the person you are purchasing the firearm for is ineligible.
Art. 6 § 3
A change in the Minnesota Statutes has altered the definition of the crime of reckless driving. Previously, Minnesota Statute 169.13 subdivision 1 defined the offense of reckless driving as driving “in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” It now says that reckless driving is driving “while aware of and consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the driving may result in harm to another or another’s property” and the risk needs to be “of such a nature and degree that disregard of it constitutes a significant deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.” A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor, and if great bodily harm to another person results from the violation it upgrades to a gross misdemeanor.
Art. 6 § 5
Starting August 1st 2015, the blood alcohol level that qualifies as an “aggravating factor” for an impaired driving offense is going to be lowered from .20 to .16. The presence of aggravating factors in an impaired driving violation raises the degree of the offense which can result in harsher sentencing. The other listed aggravating factors are:
1) A qualified prior impaired driving incident within the ten years immediately preceding the current offense; and,
2) Having a child under the age of 16 in the motor vehicle at the time of offense if the child is more than 36 months younger than the offender.
Art. 6 § 10
A defense of necessity has been added for judicial review hearings for license revocations. If someone’s driver’s license is revoked, they can petition the court for judicial review. The court will look at many different factors to determine if the process of the license revocation was properly done, and now will also consider whether or not the petitioner successfully proved a defense of necessity. The full statute outlining administrative and judicial review of license revocation can be found at Minn. Stat. 169A.52
Art. 6 § 16
A change to Minnesota Statute 609.531 has added financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult to the list of felony-level forfeiture offenses. If an offense is designated under the forfeiture statute, then all personal property that was used or intended to be used to commit or facilitate the commission of the offense is subject to forfeiture. This can include money that represents the proceeds of a designated offense. Financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult (Minn. Stat. 609.2335) occurs when someone, in a breach of a fiduciary obligation, intentionally:
(i) fails to use the real or personal property or other financial resources of the vulnerable adult to provide food, clothing, shelter, health care, therapeutic conduct, or supervision for the vulnerable adult;
(ii) uses, manages, or takes either temporarily or permanently the real or personal property or other financial resources of the vulnerable adult, whether held in the name of the vulnerable adult or a third party, for the benefit of someone other than the vulnerable adult; or
(iii) deprives either temporarily or permanently a vulnerable adult of the vulnerable adult’s real or personal property or other financial resources, whether held in the name of the vulnerable adult or a third party, for the benefit of someone other than the vulnerable adult; or
In the absence of legal authority:
(i) acquires possession or control of an interest in real or personal property or other financial resources of a vulnerable adult, whether held in the name of the vulnerable adult or a third party, through the use of undue influence, harassment, or duress;
(ii) forces, compels, coerces, or entices a vulnerable adult against the vulnerable adult’s will to perform services for the profit or advantage of another; or
(iii) establishes a relationship with a fiduciary obligation to a vulnerable adult by use of undue influence, harassment, duress, force, compulsion, coercion, or other enticement.
If someone commits any of the above violations, the property associated with that crime will be subject to forfeiture if the crime is committed on or after August 1, 2015 when this change goes into effect.
Session law Ch. 65 Art.8 has made changes to Minnesota’s controlled substances schedules. Numerous synthetic drugs were added to the controlled substances schedule I. In addition, schedules II-V were changed to match the federal government’s schedules II-V. The complete controlled substances schedules are found at Minnesota Statute 152.02 and this statute will include the changes as of August 1, 2015. When a substance becomes classified as a controlled substance, it becomes subject to all the applicable laws and regulations of controlled substances. For example, there may be bans or restrictions on possession, sale, manufacture or consumption of these substances.