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How do Hutchinson, MN Criminal Lawyers Handle CVO Cases?

by | Jul 7, 2019 | Criminal Defense, DWI, Firm News

In Minnesota, Driving Under the Influence and Criminal Vehicular Operation charges are closely related. DUI is operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substance. Injury, or lack thereof, is completely irrelevant in an ordinary DUI matter. CVO, on the other hand, is usually operating a vehicle in a “grossly negligent manner.” In this context, grossly negligent is Legalese for “really badly.”

The punishment range is different too. DUI punishment usually, but not always, depends on the number of prior convictions. CVO punishment usually, but not always, depends on the injuries that the defendant caused.

An experienced Hutchinson, MN criminal lawyer knows how to quickly evaluate your case and determine all the factual and legal defenses. Then, an attorney leverages these defenses to obtain either a desirable pretrial settlement agreement or a favorable verdict at trial.

CVO Levels in Minnesota

Section 609.2113 has three subsections. Causing “Great Bodily Harm” could mean a maximum five years in prison. There lower penalties for “Substantial Bodily Harm” and “Bodily Harm” are three years and one year, respectively.

Under Minnesota law, GBH is just short of murder. This phrase basically means putting someone in the hospital for several days. SBH includes injuries like stitches and broken bones. These injuries require extensive medical care but not hospital admission. BH is basically cuts and bruises.

Many times, McLeod County prosecutors charge the wrong level. So, when the case goes to trial, there is insufficient evidence. Commonly, if an ambulance takes someone to the hospital, prosecutors file GBH charges. The state usually files the most aggressive charges which the facts could possibly support.

But not everyone who arrives in an ambulance has sustained GBH. Many times, the person sees a doctor and is treated and released. Other times, patients suddenly feel better when they discover they must give the hospital their personal data. Or, they get tired of sitting in the waiting room and they go home.

To hold the state’s feet to the fire, most Hutchinson, MN criminal lawyers look at the actual medical records as opposed to the police offense report. If the medical records do not support the charges, there is almost certainly a lack of evidence.

Does a CVO/DUI Prosecution Violate the Fifth Amendment?

This provision contains a number of important rights in criminal cases, such as the right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment also contains the double jeopardy clause. This section prevents the state from prosecuting a person for substantially the same offense on more than one occasion.

Generally, CVO/DUI dual prosecutions do not run afoul of this provision. As mentioned, there’s a difference between causing injury with a vehicle and driving under the influence of a substance. However, there is a lot of grey area here. These two offenses may not be exactly the same, but they are substantially the same. It’s a little like getting a ticket for both speeding and reckless driving. Usually, it’s one or the other.

Depending on how prosecutors charge CVO, a Hutchinson, MN criminal lawyer’s argument could be even stronger. In addition to grossly negligent operation, Section 609.2113 also applies if the defendant operated a motor vehicle with a BAC above .08, or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These specific prosecutions almost certainly violate the double jeopardy clause.

On a side note, a valid prescription is not a defense to DUI-drug charges. But prescriptions are a defense to CVO intoxication charges. The CVO law also excludes marijuana and THC from the drug category; the DUI law does not do so.

Hutchinson, MN Criminal Lawyers and CVO Resolutions

The bottom line is that a defendant may have both factual and legal defenses. That possible combination puts defendants in a very good negotiating position.

Concurrent sentencing is one option, and prosecutors often readily agree to this resolution. The defendant pleads guilty to both DUI and CVO, but the defendant serves the sentences at the same time. This outcome does leave an additional black mark on the defendant’s criminal record, but CVO convictions are expungeable or at least sealable in many cases.

Deferred disposition may be available as well. The judge places the defendant on probation but does not find the defendant guilty. Instead, if the defendant successfully completes probation, the judge dismisses the case. Deferred disposition in a felony has some very significant pros and cons, so it’s important to review everything with a Hutchinson, MN criminal lawyer.

If the case goes to trial, the prosecutor must establish every element of the offense beyond any reasonable doubt. As mentioned above, that’s usually a very tall order in many CVO cases.

Connect with a Dedicated Attorney

CVO is one of the most serious, and most defensible, felonies in Minnesota. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN criminal lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and jail visits are available.