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I'm often asked if a person needs an attorney to represent them in a law-related matter.  As a general rule, you should consider hiring an attorney if you care about the outcome of your case.

The longer answer is that it depends on what you are dealing with and the complexity involved.  If you are dealing with a relatively straightforward matter that is uncontested where the parties agree on what should happen, you might be okay representing yourself, but you should understand the consequences of your actions before you make the decision to go it alone.  If you decide to represent yourself, you will also be expected to know the applicable rules of court and held to the same standards as an attorney.

There are few matters that you should handle on your own, without the advice and guidance provided by an attorney.  In criminal matters, you should hire an attorney if you are charged with a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or probation violation where the potential punishment includes time in jail or prison.  In civil matters, you should hire an attorney to represent you in contested matters, where both sides disagree about the outcome, and especially if the other party or parties in your case have an attorney.  In short, you should consider hiring an attorney when there is a lot on the line.

I'll be the first to admit that I am biased here because I am an attorney and would like to have your business, if I am able to accept your case.  Having an attorney on your side does not mean that you will automatically win, or that the attorney will see all of the complexities, nuances, and issues in your case.  However, in my experience, most people who represent themselves will almost inevitably lose.

You will always benefit from having an attorney represent you, because the attorney will not only see and understand the issues involved but also be able to advise you about options available to you and the potential consequences of each option.  Hiring an attorney may cost more than you would like in the short term, but the long-term cost of not taking action now can be much greater.

Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents clients in both civil and criminal matters, and will meet with you to discuss your case and available options.  The fee for such a meeting is $150, and most meetings last 30 - 45 minutes.  Please call (763) 450-9494 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today!

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

 
 
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Can a landlord evict a tenant for illegal activities?  For example, what can the landlord do if the tenant uses, sells, possesses, or manufactures illegal drugs in the rental unit?  What if the tenant assaults someone, such as another tenant or guest, in the rental unit?  Can the landlord evict a tenant who stores stolen property on the premises?

The short answer is yes, the landlord can bring an eviction action, but only if there is proof that the tenant has engaged in certain illegal activities.  In Minnesota, Minn. Stat. 504B.171, subd. 1 says that neither the landlord or tenant will:

(i) unlawfully allow controlled substances in [the rental] premises or in the common area and curtilage of the premises;
(ii) allow prostitution or prostitution-related activity as defined in section 617.80, subdivision 4, to occur on the premises or in the common area and curtilage of the premises;
(iii) allow the unlawful use or possession of a firearm in violation of section 609.66, subdivision 1a, 609.67, or 624.713, on the premises or in the common area and curtilage of the premises; or
(iv) allow stolen property or property obtained by robbery in those premises or in the common area and curtilage of the premises; and
(2) the common area and curtilage of the premises will not be used by either the landlord or licensor or the tenant or licensee or others acting under the control of either to manufacture, sell, give away, barter, deliver, exchange, distribute, purchase, or possess a controlled substance in violation of any criminal provision of chapter 152.

0Minn. Stat. § 504B.171, subd. 1, emphasis added.

In other words, the activities in bold print are prohibited, and grounds for eviction.  Here is a short list of prohibited activities:

1. controlled substances
2. prostitution or prostitution-related activity
3. unlawful use or possession of a firearm
4. possession of stolen property

These are the only illegal activities that are prohibited by statute, so a tenant cannot be evicted under this statute for engaging in an a crime not on this list.  However, many leases and tenant rules prohibit other conduct.  If a tenant's conduct violates the terms of the lease or rules, that violation is grounds for eviction as well.  For example, if a lease prohibits "assaultive behavior," and the tenant assaults another tenant or guest, that might be grounds for eviction.

I say might because the landlord must prove that the prohibited conduct occurred.  In a civil action such as an eviction, the landlord must prove that prohibited conduct occurred by a preponderance of the evidence.  That means that the landlord must prove that is more likely than not that the prohibited conduct occurred.

What is sufficient proof?  A conviction, either resulting from a guilty plea or trial, will almost certainly be sufficient because the underlying facts will either be admitted or proven beyond a reasonable doubt..  If a tenant is charged with a crime, that may be sufficient because a prosecutor found probable cause to believe that the tenant had committed a crime.  Police reports and complaints for neighbors are good, but may not be sufficient to prove prohibited conduct in and of themselves.

If a landlord suspects that a tenant is engaged in illegal activity, or receives complaints from neighbors, I would recommend calling the police and filing a police report.  Landlords should encourage neighbors who complain about a tenant's behavior to call 9-1-1 instead of reporting the tenant to the landlord later, after the fact.  If neighbors call the police immediately, the police may catch the tenant doing something illegal.

Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents both landlords and tenants in eviction actions, and in other litigation related to the landlord-tenant legal relationship.  Please call (763) 450-9494 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today!

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

 
 
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You may be asked to give a statement to an investigator for the police, for an insurance company, or for a government agency other than the police (usually a licensing or regulatory agency).  If you've been asked to give a statement or come to an investigator's office, you're probably wondering what to do next.

The short answer is that you should probably not give a statement because anything that you say can and will be used against you.  I can’t emphasize enough that you should not give a statement or confess, even when the police or an investigator put a lot of pressure on you to do so.  You should only ask to be able to talk to your attorney.  Sometimes, the police will ask you to come to the police station or an investigator's office to be interviewed because you may have information about criminal or other illegal activity.  If you are asked to come to the police station or an investigator's office, I would recommend that you contact an attorney to find out how you should respond because, if you consent to be interviewed, any information that you provide can be used against you.

Sometimes, police or an investigator may want to talk to you because they think you have information on the target of their investigation.  Even if you are not the target of an investigation, I would still recommend that you talk to an attorney before agreeing to be interviewed.  You don't want to incriminate yourself accidentally, or say something inadvertent that turns you into the target of an investigation.

Your best bet, whether you are the target of an investigation or not, is to consult with an attorney before agreeing to give a statement.  I would also recommend having the attorney attend the interview to make sure that your rights are protected.  If you have been called for an interview as part of an investigation, please call me at (763) 450-9494 to discuss your best strategy and available options.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.



 
 
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If you are driving and pulled over by the police, you are probably wondering what to do.  Nearly everybody who drives will be pulled over at some point.  If you are pulled over, don't take it personally, and remain calm, rational, and businesslike.  Here are some general pointers to follow if you are pulled over:

DO have your necessary documents ready – valid driver’s license, insurance card & proof of registration, and get those documents out before the police officer approaches your vehicle.

DON’T roll down your window only an inch to pass the documents – you will look unnecessarily suspicious.  Roll your window down all the way.

DO pull over as soon as you safely can – the officer will appreciate your prompt response.  Pull over as far as you safely can, signal that you are pulling over, and turn your ignition off after you have pulled over and rolled down your window.

DON’T give the officer permission to search anything – if they proceed without permission, stay calm and remember all of the details of the search (I recommend writing down what happened after the officer lets you go) to tell your attorney.

DON"T give a statement to the officer – the officer will typically try get you to admit that you were speeding or had an equipment violation.  Under no circumstances should you admit that you were breaking the law because such an admission could come back to haunt you.

DO keep your hands in plain view – put them at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on the steering wheel.

DON’T be a jerk – it’s not going to help your situation.  Address the officer as "Officer" and be polite, businesslike, and respectful.  Remember, the police officer is doing his or her job and has the power to issue you a ticket, give you a warning, and let you go.

DO turn on your interior lights if it is at night – to prove you aren't trying to hide something.

DON’T give the officer a reason to be worried or suspicious – stay calm and do what they say.

DO carefully drive away and be mindful of all traffic laws – cautiously merge back into traffic, signaling accordingly.

DON'T drive off until the officer gives you permission to leave and gets back in his/her car.

DON’T get out of your car - unless asked by the officer to do so.

DO thank the officer regardless of the outcome of the encounter, and ask the officer if you are free to leave.

If you are given a ticket, you will have to decide whether you want to plead guilty by paying the fine, challenge the ticket, or take other action.  Every situation is different, so it is impossible to cover every possible variation in an article.  Please call me at (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.