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Minneapolis Criminal Defense Blog

Can you force your spouse not to testify against you?

You get arrested, and the authorities say that your spouse was a witness to the crime. They want him or her to testify against you. Naturally, you would rather not have your spouse involved in any way. Can you force your spouse not to testify?

You cannot. That is how spousal privilege has been used in the past, but the modern interpretation is different. You no longer have the power to deny your spouse any action. If he or she wants to testify against you, it can happen without your permission.

What you don't know about drug laws can lead to big trouble

There is a theory in criminal law called "mens rea." That's Latin for "guilty mind." The gist of the theory is that if an individual charged with a crime didn't have criminal intent at the time of the act, it should be possible to use that in the person's defense. Whether it makes sense to try that tactic depends on the circumstances of the case.

It's worth noting, however, that it is very possible for a person to violate the law without knowing it. There are so many laws on the books that it becomes easy to unintentionally step across legal lines. For example, depending on the laws of your state, you could find yourself facing criminal charges if you host a friendly poker game. If you decide to share your password for an online subscription service like Netflix or HBO Now so a friend can use it, you could be indicted under federal law.

The trouble with vendor accounts

Even those who operate legitimate businesses in Minnesota might find themselves accused of white-collar crimes, such as embezzlement. The complicated nature of these accusations, which are often backed by years of investigative work, makes them difficult to investigate and even more challenging to defend against.

What is the difference between copyrights and trademarks?

Many businesses, authors and artists are concerned about protecting their intellectual property and turn to federal law to make sure their work is registered. Generally, people in Minnesota understand intellectual property protections take the form of copyrights and trademarks. But what is the difference between these two categories? Although they offer important legal protections for intellectual property, copyrights and trademarks are not one and the same.

According to, federal law defines copyright protections as applying to works that are created in a fixed form. These works have to be original, meaning they cannot be copies of works created by another individual or entity. Popular examples of copyrighted works include books, movies, television shows, pieces of art and music. In addition, copyright can also be used to protect internal documents or audio-visual works created by a business. Generally, copyrights can be applied to many different kinds of intellectual property.

Be on the lookout for business e-mail compromises

Internet criminals concoct all sorts of ways to steal money from unsuspecting Minnesota internet users. According to the FBI, internet criminals have recently come up with a way to infiltrate the emails of company employees and non-profit workers to get them to hand over their money. This scheme is known as a business e-mail compromise (BEC). To date, this internet crime has resulted in billions of dollars of losses to victims.

A BEC scam functions much like phishing scams, except it is more elaborate. Scammers target individuals that have access to financial assets and trick them into transferring money to a seemingly legitimate bank account, but in reality the account is owned by the scammers. BEC scammers will usually break into a company computer system and harvest information about its employees. The scammer will identify a victim and then send that person an an email that appears to be an authentic company email urging the victim to send money to a seemingly reputable vendor.

Does working overtime make employers suspicious of you?

Working overtime at your Minnesota workplace can yield an important payday for you and your family, plus it helps generate goodwill towards you from your employer, as hardworking employees are an important asset to any corporation. But could working overtime actually land you as an embezzlement suspect? It is important to understand why employees are suspected of such a white collar crime and why employees who merely work overtime should not be under suspicion.

Findlaw points out that employee behavior can sometimes be a tipoff that an employee is stealing money from the business. The mere fact that you work overtime should never invite suspicions of illicit behavior. Typically, an employer must find other indications that something is going wrong with the company’s finances. For example, an employer may find that financial accounts have gone missing, or the accounting records are so disorganized that it is impossible to keep track of transactions for certain dates. It is these indicators that lead employers to start investigating their employees for possible embezzlement.

Former controller enters guilty plea

People in Minnesota who are accused of multiple criminal offenses at once may end up opting to enter into a plea agreement with the prosecution. This is just one of the options that may be available to some defendants. While it is not necessarily always the best choice for some people, it may work very well for others.

One woman who had been the controller of a well-known and highly respected country club in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area was charged with multiple white collar crimes in the summer of 2017. She has recently entered guilty pleas in response to two of the charges. It is not known for sure if the actions involving the guilty pleas are related to a plea deal or not. The original charges included six counts of filing false tax returns and four counts of wire fraud.

How to tell mail fraud from legitimate business practices

The large number of products and goods that are delivered by mail in today’s economy means there a lot of people who conduct their business through the mail. However, in some cases, a Minnesota business may not be able to fulfill a mail order after a payment has been rendered. Assuming that the business refunds the money or does everything in good faith to compensate the customer, some people may wonder if the customer may turn around and accuse the company of mail fraud. 

Federal law establishes clear parameters for a person or entity to be accused of mail fraud. According to the Cornell Law School website, mail fraud takes place when an individual uses the United States Postal Service to gain money from customers in exchange for a promised service that the individual has no intention of keeping. A person engaging in fraud may promise to invest a client’s money in a certain way, only to take that money and put it away in a personal bank account, or use the money to pay off another client.

What can happen if you lie on your taxes?

If you count yourself among the many people across Minnesota who make occasional guesses or estimates when filing your taxes, you are not alone. Taxes can prove tremendously complicated, and unless you make your living working as, say, an accountant, you make an occasional error here and there when you file. Even if the errors you make are not intentional, though, you can still face stiff penalties for lying or providing false information when filing your taxes.

According to, if you file your taxes and the Internal Revenue Service spots any red flags, such as missing information, inaccurate or inappropriate deductions or what have you, it may lead to an audit. During an audit, you can expect the IRS to go over your taxes with a fine-tooth comb, and this can lead you to owe more money if they find you calculated incorrectly or otherwise misled Uncle Sam. It is also important to note that, during an audit, the IRS can also review past tax returns from as many as six years ago, potentially leaving you on the hook for expenses you did not anticipate.

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Joseph S. Friedberg Chartered

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Minneapolis, MN 55415

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