New Drug, Crimes of Violence & Domestic Abuse Laws Now in Effect
A number of laws passed by the Minnesota State Legislature during this spring’s legislative session went into effect Aug. 1, 2014. A handful highlighted below are directly related to public safety and criminal law.
Definition of “Drug” Expanded for Synthetics
Found in convenience stores and online, synthetic drugs include substances that mimic the effects of illegal chemicals. Their health risks are unpredictable and can be dangerous due to frequent product name changes, indirect labeling and untested, often undetectable chemicals. Synthetic drugs are generally found has synthetic cannabinoids, sometimes referred to as synthetic marijuana, or synthetic cathinones, which are more commonly known as bath salts.
The new law expands the definition of “drug” and states that if the drug is not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human consumption, and produces effects similar to scheduled, or controlled, drugs after human use, it falls under the definition of being a drug.
According to the law, the Board of Pharmacy will be permitted to issue cease and desist orders to businesses selling synthetic drugs that contain a banned substance. An affected business will be entitled to an administrative hearing to fight the order, but if no hearing is requested within 30 days of the order, the cease and desist order will become permanent and will remain in effect until modified or vacated by the board.
In addition, if sellers offer the drug under the false pretense that it is a legal substance they will be ordered by a court to pay restitution for the costs and expenses resulting from the sale.
Three Crimes Added to Crime of Violence Statute
Felony fifth-degree assault, felony domestic assault and felony domestic assault by strangulation have been added to the state’s crime of violence statute. A person convicted of a crime of violence is prohibited for life from legally possessing firearms in the state.
The law also removed some offenses from the list, including theft of a motor vehicle, and theft involving property from a burning, abandoned or vacant building or from an area of destruction.
Those Convicted of Domestic Abuse, Stalking Lose Firearm Access
Anyone who commits an act of domestic violence or stalks another person will now lose access to a firearm for the length of the court order and must surrender any firearms within three business days.
According to the new law, individuals who fall under this category include those who are subject to an order for protection in a child or domestic abuse case. For the transfer of the firearm, the person will need to transfer possession of their firearms to a law enforcement agency, a federally licensed firearms dealer or a third party.
It’s also important to note that the government cannot take guns away without due process or a court conviction under this new law. Illegal searches and seizures are also not allowed.
If you’ve been charged with one of the crimes mentioned above or any other crime, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. The Law Office of Carolyn Agin Schmidt has experience with a variety of different criminal cases, and can help bring walk you through the legal process and bring your case to a fair end. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, call 763-591-0552 or fill out a contact request form.
Minnesota Department of Human Services: http://knowthedangers.com/synthetic-drug-facts-overview/
Minnesota House of Representatives: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/leginfo/0814nlrelease.pdf