Official WaMoLaw WebLog
This website does not dispense legal advice. While general concepts of law may be discussed, we have not applied those concepts to your circumstances and have not given specific advice about your case. Any similarities to your
current case or situation are purely coincidental. Until a retainer agreement is signed by you and Wainberg Morrison LLC, no attorney-client relationship has formed.
A criminal record expungement can convert the court records and executive branch records into private, publicly unavailable data. Restoring you to your situation before the criminal conduct occurred. However, there are websites that retain data for criminal background checks and if employers find that information they might react poorly to it. Interestingly enough, many of the online people searchers and criminal background checks allow you to remove your own records if you take the time to ask and follow their privacy protocols.
I recently came across a lifehacker
article titled "How to commit internet suicide and disappear from the web forever
." In it the author details some of the tools you can use to protect your internet privacy. Now, this is not an exhaustive list, and there will be some companies which could retain your records simply because you don't know about them or because they do not retain an internet presence. But the article is a great resource for enhancing the effectiveness of a criminal record expungement, particularly when it comes to companies or individuals who would do an internet search.
The highlight of the article was a bit of information about Delete Me
, a web service that will act on your behalf to remove personal information from person searchers and background check websites. You can also save your $99 fee and do it yourself
instead. They provide you with a how to instruction sheet and rate how difficult it is to have your information removed from the websites.
So, if you are looking to go the extra mile with your criminal record expungement you can try to get the information held by private companies expunged as well.
Disclaimer: I am biased as to this result. One of the last cases I worked on at Brandt Criminal Defense before starting Wainberg Morrison was this appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court. While I am not the attorney of record, I contributed heavily to the final product.
The Schmidt v. Coons appeal concerned Minnesota Statute § 518B.01 and whether an Order for Protection (OFP) could be issued when the adult victim was not the petitioner. Yesterday the opinion was released and the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of limiting orders for protection to victims of domestic abuse. The Court’s reasoning behind the decision to reverse was based on the overall intent of the legislation to protect the victims of domestic abuse. I believe this was the correct legal decision, but more importantly I believe this decision makes tons of practical sense.
The reason this decision makes practical sense is because the decision does not prevent anyone who needs protection from getting it. This is because the definition of domestic abuse includes the fear of harm. So a victim of domestic abuse is any person who has been harmed or is afraid of being harmed by a family member. This leaves one category of person, non-victims, who have neither been harmed, nor put in fear of harm, by a family member. Basically, non-victims are people who do not need protection from their family. *
*The notable exception to this would be people who are as yet unhurt and unafraid of being hurt due to an inability to understand the danger. I.e. an infant. However, there are legal provisions for protecting vulnerable adults and Minn. Stat. § 518B.01 provides an explicit exception for filing on behalf of minors.
As reported here (http://www.twincities.com/stpaul/ci_20954571/st-paul-creates-buffer-slow-spread-student-housing?source=rss
), the St. Paul City Council has created a "buffer" zone around the University of St. Thomas where property cannot be converted into "student rental housing" unless there is no other "student rental housing" within 150 feet (approximately 3 houses).
My main problems with this: (1) It singles out students over any other renters for this restriction based on anecdotal evidence that students are too loud; (2) It singles out University of St. Thomas students specifically over all other students living in St. Paul due to the location right near the UST campus; (3) It limits the property rights of owners to do with their property what they what; (4) It makes it harder for students to find housing, and will force many students to live farther away from campus, creating greater need for cars rather than bikes and walking; (5) It is a ridiculous law to enforce as housing can still be converted to rental property, but just not for students; (6) If people do not want to live near college students, then DON'T LIVE RIGHT NEXT TO A CAMPUS! (for peace and quiet and never having to hear your neighbors, move out to the suburbs).
At least it grandfathers in already converted property; and guess what, that means the Mr. Wilson-ish people complaining near campus who live next to students, still will after this is over. In the end I hope that this will lapse into non-enforcement and obscurity.
On top of reading Needles and Sins (http://www.needlesandsins.com/ the best tattoo blog out there), you can expect to get occasional updates on tattoos, law and your rights right here on wamolaw.com.
1. The U.S. Army is considering cracking down on
soldiers tattoos according to the
Military Times (http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2012/04/army-new-tougher-hair-tattoo-makeup-regulations-among-pending-changes-041412w/). Also addressing other issues of appearance,
such as hair and shaving standards, the proposed regulations include: “Tattoos
will not be visible above the neck line when the physical fitness uniform is
worn. Tattoos will not extend below the wrist line and not be visible on the
hands. Sleeve tattoos will be prohibited. (This rule may be grandfathered.)” This seems like an overreach to me,
especially prohibiting sleeves. It not
only raises questions of civil rights of soldiers, but throws a shadow over the
strong and proud tradition of military tattoos.
What a soldier does in their free time, especially in taking time to
relax and recuperate from combat, should be protected. My friends and family who are in the military
all enjoy their tattoos and should be able to continue to collect body art.
As an aside, I would appreciate it if someone
could explain to me the proposed rule: “Men will be authorized to carry a black
umbrella with the Army Service Uniform.”
I am just curious as to whether soldiers were previously not allowed to
carry umbrellas in uniform, if women could but men couldn’t, or if it is a
change from any color umbrella to black umbrellas. Also do those samurai sword umbrellas
count? I hope so.
Individuals posting pictures on Facebook
documenting their crimes is nothing new.
It has happened to celebrity athletes like Michael Phelps and ordinary people like Mr. Baker and his girlfriend. Posting photos
appearing to show a crime on Facebook, or the internet in general, carries
certain risks related to prosecution as the photos can help a prosecutor prove
different elements of their case, even if you didn't do anything wrong. These cautionary tales, and others like them,
can tell us something about the risk of posting those photos.
First, photos can help a prosecutor prove where it
happened. This is important because laws
vary from place to place. Drinking age,
age of consent for sex, wiretapping, and public nudity laws vary across the
nation. Additionally, prosecutors can
typically only bring charges for conduct which occurred in their
jurisdiction. For example, a county
prosecutor in Minnesota cannot prosecute you for what you did in Wisconsin
(although they can arrest you and send you back to stand trial). If your photo includes GPS coordinates, like
the photo being used as evidence of the identity of CabinCr3w, or shows an
identifiable location such as a landmark, the prosecution can easily prove
where the crime occurred.
Second, the photo can demonstrate when the crime
occurred. Photos are frequently date and
time stamped. Most crimes have a statute
of limitations. Time limits for the
prosecutor to bring charges against you.
If the photo has a date and time somewhere in the metadata, the
prosecutor can use it to prove the crime happened within the time limit.
Third, the photo can demonstrate evidence of the
crime itself to varying degrees. If the
photo shows you drinking from a beer can, doing a line of coke, beating someone
up, or siphoning gas from a police car, you have provided some evidence of your
own wrongdoing. Because photos can be
staged for comedic effect, it is difficult to prove they show what they are
supposed to be showing. Take the gas
siphoning photo, pictured to the right (picture found at newstalk870.am). If the defendants had stuck to the claim that the photo
was staged, the charges might have been dismissed. After all, the photo shows the defendant in a
compromising position but it does not actually show gas being stolen. It is not a crime to pretend you are siphoning
gas from a cop as a joke. Similarly, a
picture of you drinking from a beer on your 18th birthday with a GPS stamp from
your house can prove you had a can of beer in your hands on your 18th birthday,
it doesn't prove the can still had any beer in it. It is not illegal to hold an empty beer can
if you are underage.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
There is no way to completely prevent this from
occurring to you, even if you remain law abiding. After all your friends can post pictures of
you appearing to break the law even if you didn't. However, you can take measures to protect
your own privacy. First, don't post compromising photos if you actually committed a
crime. Second, turn off GPS tagging
on your camera phone. Third, use the Facebook privacy features
to restrict who can see your pictures. Fourth, turn off the date/time
stamp. Fifth, pay attention to the elections for judges and prosecutors in your area. If the judges and prosecutors in your area don't seem to have a problem with the prosecution of protesters or government infringement of constitutional rights, you might want to consider voting
against them in the next election.
The Star Tribune recently ran an article about Wainberg Morrison LLC. You can read it here. It is an excellent article by Chao Xiong with a very nice picture of us taken by Renée Jones Schneider.
A bill recently signed into law by current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (http://goo.gl/dEh6a) disproportionately targets low
income residents and students. The
following table illustrates some of
the major changes to Wisconsin law:
a tenant’s personal property is left in the apartment, the landlord must but
it in storage and notify the tenants.
The landlord can charge the tenant storage costs and only has to store
property for 30 days.
a tenant’s personal property is left in the apartment, the landlord can
presume it is abandoned and dispose of it or sell it immediately without
notice to the tenant. The exception is
a seven day hold period for medicine and medical supplies.
get increased discretion to withhold repaying security deposits. Specifically, they can deduct unpaid utility and rental payments
from security deposits. A landlord can also deduct any other payment it wants
as long as it is marked “nonstandard rental provisions” in the written
must pay landlord’s attorney fees in any lawsuit involving a rental agreement
(lease) unless a court order specifically states otherwise (as justified under
the ability of the Wisconsin Justice Department division in charge consumer
protection to issue orders and rules to protect consumers from predatory
Rental Agreements severable. In other words, a landlord can now include
illegal/unenforceable sections in a lease, and even if that section is
challenged and struck by a court, the rest of the lease can still be upheld,
not constituting a break of the lease by the landlord.
is no need for such legislation; it is claiming to solve a problem—a problem
which does not exist—while it is clearly a power grab by a special interest
group (landlords) who are better organized and have more funds for influencing
politicians than the group marginalized by these inane laws (low to medium
income families and students).
stated that the law will help local governments operate more effectively. What the law does is limit the power of local
officials by constructing a notice requirement that tenants must provide
written notification to landlords before they can complain to the local
government, and the local governments cannot stop evictions (Wisconsin Stat. s.
changes are not “reasonable” as the Walker camp calls them, but an
unfortunately unsurprising power grab aimed at weakening the middle class.
It is unfortunate, but another public school, this time a middle school, has punished a student for exercising their free speech rights online. I first saw the article on CNN (click here for the original article, the complaint is available to download below). On a purely intellectual level, I wonder what drives some school administrators to openly risk lawsuits by investigating the online activities of their students. In this case I was more confused than usual because the student was punished because she posted a comment to Facebook saying she "hated" one of the adult hall monitors because she was "mean." For this offense she was given detention and forced to apologize to the adult. Now, this is a little girl. Not a politician or public figure. And she called an adult authority figure "mean." A 12-year old saying they hate an adult authority figure and calling them "mean" is about as benign an expression of dissent as we could expect from a 12-year old student. If you are unable to cope with a student saying that, quite frankly it is difficult to image how or why you started working with children in the first place
Things then escalates shortly after her mother attempts to talk with the principal about the issue with the hall monitor. Apparently, the student posted a comment on Facebook asking who the "F#@$" turned her in. The comment had an expletive so she was given in school suspension. The student was not at school when she made the comment. She was at home, communicating with her friends on Facebook. Using an expletive at home is beyond the province of school administration. It is PARENTING. Not education. And her parents have a right to allow her to speak as she chooses in public, and punish her when she speaks inappropriately. If they choose not to punish her for swearing (or even if they do) it does not give the school a right to do so.
This then escalates again when the school calls her in to investigate a parents allegation that she is talking to another student (a boy) about sex on Facebook. According to the complaint the boy admitted to starting the conversation about sex but they made the girl hand over her Facebook and email passwords so they could look through her accounts. The student who was humiliated and whose rights they violated over was not even the instigator of the discussion. She was participating in a discussion about sex.
This conduct is outrageous for a number of reasons. First, it does not sound like the boy was punished. Only the girl. Which is worrisome. Is it okay for a boy to instigate a discussion of sex online but punish a girl for participating?
Second, the school appears to be trying to raise the girl themselves, and doing a terrible job of it. These were obviously issues for her parents to address. Not schools. Not the Sheriff's Office. Parents. If she is being rude (calling someone "mean"), vulgar (using expletives) or manifesting an interest in sex the parents should be addressing those issues.
Third, it seems an awful lot like the school overreacted, was called out for over reacting and tried to cover its tracts and ended up going too far trying to find a reason to punish the girl. In school suspension for expletives used online is a pretty flimsy excuse for in school suspension, and doing so shortly after her mother had asked about the previous detention is suspicious.
Fourth, according to the complaint school officials had forced other students to disclose their Facebook and email passwords.
What it really comes down to is a hard lesson for parents. You can't always trust the school administration, and you need to teach your child to protect themselves from authorities who would abuse their power. You child needs to know that if they get in trouble at school and something, anything, seems wrong they can call you, no questions asked. That if a police officer is present they need to ask to speak to you or to speak to an attorney. They need to know they can say no to school administration.
In a similarly disturbing situation, an Indiana senior was expelled for using the word "F$%#" on Twitter. Apparently the Principal tracks all of his students twitter accounts. Creepy.
Protecting your privacy is n0t easy in the digital age. Your online footprint is everywhere. As students this comes with a special risk because not only does your University likely monitor your internet to some degree but many private universities have codes of conduct that extend to the internet. As a result, venting on Facebook or twitter can have serious consequences for students, even students at public schools who have the benefit of First Amendment protection.
There are ways to protect your privacy when surfing the internet; even on a campus that monitors your internet usage. The best way to do so is to use Tor. Tor protects your privacy by routing your internet traffic through multiple relays. As a result, anyone monitoring your traffic sees your connection to the Tor network but not the webpage you are viewing. Tor has some limitations, notably flash and bit torrents. So if you are downloading videos or streaming videos online Tor is not as effective.
Another way to protect your privacy is to use the privacy settings on your social media websites more effectively. Facebook has as default setting for your posts, so you can limit the viewership. This is good because it prevents late-night, Redbull and vodka induced postings from being sent to everyone. Additionally, since Facebook lets you change the privacy settings for each post as you make them, you can expand the viewship for specific posts when you desire. Twitter allows you to limit your followers. This is a good thing to do if you are not trying to actively promote yourself, your company, your non-profit or your cause. Google+ is the most difficult case. Google+ requires you to set your viewership circles every time you post. It defaults to whatever your previous post viewship setting was, so be careful.
You can get detailed step by step instructions for using these privacy settings at lifehacker.com. Lifehacker.com has great pages devoted to the privacy settings for the big social media pages (Twitter, Google+, Facebook), and we recommend you check those from time to time.