What is a crime?
Crimes are acts punishable by loss of liberty or life. But Minnesota state law abolished the death penalty long ago. And yet, the federal government might assert federal death penalty jurisdiction in Minnesota one day.
So, for decades, criminal cases in Minnesota involve taking away a person’s Liberty, and labeling them a criminal. See, Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 477 (2000) (citing In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358.) (identifies two liberty interests — first, the interest in avoiding a commitment to reform school; second, the stigma of being adjudged a delinquent.)
Who are the accused?
Many great people in history faced criminal charges.
So check out our article about the most famous criminal trial in history: the Trial of Jesus.
And Socrates, Joan of Arc. But were they guilty of real crimes? These cases teach us skepticism about governments’ criminal law.
To err is human: The criminal laws and the legal system are the product of humans – imperfect and flawed. And the accused is at a disadvantage. So a person facing an accuser needs a good defense lawyer to be heard.
For example, see our article about, Jesus as Defense Lawyer: The Woman Accused of Adultery.
Crimes: It is written
No person can be held criminally responsible unless the law is:
- written, and
- clearly prohibits an intentional act,
- with a defined penalty.
So statutes serve those purposes.
But judges and juries apply the laws to cases based upon evidence presented. And judges write legal opinions interpreting statutes and other criminal laws.
The Recipe for a Crime
Statutes are the laws created by the legislature, sometimes signed by the Governor. And every criminal statute must have elements. So we call these “the elements of the crime.” The prosecuting attorney claims to have evidence proving each and every element of the criminal statute. But the jury decides the issues of fact and law in the jury trial.
Some criminal statutes have numerous elements. And some have the minimum few. But every criminal statute contains at least these basic elements:
- Jurisdiction (including geographic location)
- Prohibited Act
- Criminal Intent
- Identity (of the person the prosecutor claims performed a criminal act)
Types of Defenses
Because the burden of proving prosecution claims is on the prosecutor, the defense has no burden of proving anything. One reason for this is the difficulty in proving that a thing did not happen. (Try proving a negative.)
So, a main type of defense is simply that the prosecutor’s failure to prove one element of the crime. Remember if evidence for even one element of the criminal statute is missing or weak, the defendant is not-guilty. (Example: Evidence shows that a crime happened, but not that the defendant did it.)
The prosecutor must attempt to introduce evidence in the trial on each element, during the government’s case-in-chief. And after the prosecutor rests its case, the defense may present evidence if it chooses, but may not feel the need to do so. (Sometimes because the prosecution evidence is so weak.)
We also have what we call “affirmative defenses.” One example of an affirmative defense is “self-defense.” And for an affirmative defense, the defense bears an initial burden of producing evidence in the trial that could support that defense. After that, the ultimate burden of proof (beyond any reasonable doubt) shifts to the prosecutor, to prove that the act was not justified by the affirmative defense. But affirmative defenses do not normally relate to the elements of the crime. Rather, they render the act non-criminal, after consideration of the elements.
“There ought to be a law?”
Remember the Ten Commandments? Ok.
So, now, do you remember the 648 Chapters of Minnesota Statutes?
We have so many laws today; so many criminal laws. And every year, more laws; more crimes.
First, do no harm: Do people really believe that laws are magic solutions? And can laws solve every human problem; with words and the brute force of the State?
Or, have we reached a point where our criminal laws cause problems, rather than solve them?
Each one of us has a role to play in guarding the Liberty of the individual. So protect his or hers; and you’re protecting yours and that of your family. And this is the only way you can.
If “the other” is at risk, so are you.
But the jury and the judge are the last defense against government violation of human rights. And the defense attorney is the advocate of our Liberty, on behalf of the accused.
Types of crimes
Gallagher Criminal Defense represents clients facing criminal charges in Minnesota state and federal courts. And these include:
Assault and other crimes against persons
Domestic crimes related & Violation of an Order for Protection, DANCO
Impaired Driving and Alcohol related
Gun With No Serial Number
Felony, Gross Misdemeanor, Misdemeanor, and Petty Misdemeanor consequences
Federal criminal defense
Inchoate Crimes: Attempts, Solicitation, Aiding and abetting, Conspiracy
Why Gallagher Criminal Defense?
When you learn that you are a target of a police investigation or prosecution, you need a criminal defense lawyer. After all, these are legal problems with legal solutions.
A good criminal defense attorney will begin to untangle the knot. And early intervention works better. So, we can do more with more time.
So if you have a question about criminal charges in Minnesota, call Defense Attorney Thomas Gallagher, at 612 333-1500
We hope this main crimes page, which links to several individual crimes pages, will help you. We have a great site search service, at the top of the page. And some of our other pages cover: