Brainerd, MN Attorney at Law

Law and Technology: The bridge to an efficient future


I have never been known as a cutting edge tech guy.  I do not have cable TV, rarely use my smart phone for anything but making calls, and would much rather be outside than in front of a screen.  But, how people do business and use legal services is changing, and the legal profession needs to be on the cutting edge.  With considerable help from my associate Andrew Wipper, my office is updating our systems to provide the most efficient service to our clients.  


Our judicial system has its roots in 13th century England, and the founding of this country.  Rule of law is critical to a free society.  While the judicial system is making some changes to reflect current technology, when I go to the courthouse I am amazed by some of the outdated practices that I see.  A court reporter is still paid to write down every word said in the courtroom.  That made sense back in the horse and buggy days, but not now when quality video recording is easy and inexpensive.  Parties to cases and others are not even allowed to record the proceedings in any way!  Why not allow recordings, and have an official recording instead of paying someone to record what was said.


In most courthouses, people are not allowed to bring cell phones in.  Cell phones can ring at annoying times, but other institutions deal with them, and the judicial systems customers, those who have business in the courthouse, need to stay in touch with their families and often keep schedules on their phones.  My clients see and comment on these practices, and they are not impressed.  
Believe it or not, the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow faxing as proper service of legal papers, but not email!  Fax was hot technology in the 80′s, but how many people do you know who own a fax machine now?  Email was routinely used by most of us in the 90′s when Bill Clinton talked about building a bridge to the 21st century.  The judicial system needs to take that bridge.  


Cell Phone Searches: U.S. Supreme Court says “Get a warrant.”


Drop the phone and slowly back away.

Hot off the presses, the United State Supreme Court, in a decision extending 4th Amendment protections to the 21st century, ruled this week that police cannot search your cell phone without a warrant signed by a judge, even if you are arrested and charged with a crime.  (Read the decision here).  With the ever increasing use of cell phones and with how much data we now store on these devices it is important to understand how cell phone searches could affect you criminally.  

The decision in Riley basically states that the police can still seize your phone when they arrest you, but they cannot look at the call logs or any other information without the warrant.    Suppression is not automatic, you have to make a formal request to the court following certain procedures.  This decision has been touted as a major win for privacy advocates as noted in Newsweek and in other major news organizations.  
If the police searched your phone without a warrant you can ask that the evidence they got off of the phone be suppressed, meaning that they cannot use it against you in court.If your phone has been taken by any law enforcement agency or you have been charged with a crime get legal advice right away.  If police ask to search your phone you have the right to say “no.”  If you say “no” to cell phone searches by the police, your next call should be to your attorney.


Sex Crimes: Falsely Accused?



First of all, forget that innocent until proven guilty line you learned in school.  If you are charged with a sex crime, you will have to prove your innocence.  The world, which includes those who will be on your jury, will assume that you are guilty because you have been accused, get used to it.  You must show them that you are not guilty.

Plan on hiring a good attorney familiar with the area where your case will be tried who will know how to relate to local juries.  Do not waste your money on big city flash, but don’t go cheap.  Someone who quotes you a low fee either has no experience, or plans on having you plead guilty in a plea bargain.  Plan on a trial, and get an attorney who will prepare from day one to go to trial.

Plan on spending alot of money on experts besides your attorney.  The prosecution will have an interview with the ‘victim’, and most likely a social worker to testify that the ‘victim’ is telling the truth.  You will need an expert of your own to explain why ‘victims’ often do not tell the truth in sex crime cases, and why they are not telling the truth in your case.  False accusations are common, but without an expert telling the jury why false claims happen, you are in trouble.  

Do not talk about your case to the police or anyone else except your attorney.  

Most important, do not give up.  False accusations of abuse can be beaten, I have done that for clients.  If you or someone you know is falsely accused take action now.


Aitkin County Criminal Law

CRIMINAL LAW, DUI, and AITKIN COUNTY:  Come on vacation, leave on probation.  

Aitkin County is one of Minnesota’s hidden treasures.  Great fishing, hunting, lakes, woods, and one of the best state parks in the state, Savanna Portage.   Aitkin County is also famous for some of the most aggressive law enforcement in the state.  Prosecutors there often seek stiffer punishments than in other parts of the state, and I have seen people accused of crimes in Aitkin for actions that I do not consider a crime, and that I have never seen pressed in any other county.  Tourists and locals alike are often surprised to be on the receiving end of Aitkin County justice.  

What does this mean for you, a resident or visitor to Aitkin?  Be aware that you can get involved in the court system for actions that you may not consider a crime, and that minor criminal offenses may be treated differently than you expect.  If you find your itinerary including a trip to the Aitkin County Courthouse, get good legal help right away.  Better to leave on probation than to stay at the county jail.  

If you need help with an Aitkin County criminal matter or DUI / DWI contact the criminal attorneys at Edward R. Shaw, P.A. today at 218-825-7030.  If you need immediate help with an Aitkin County criminal charge, call our on-call line at 218-251-3217.  


Sexual Abuse and Criminal Defense


Just the words ‘criminal sexual conduct,” or “sex offense” or “sexual abuse” bring up strong reactions.  Some people say that anyone accused of such an evil deed should be locked up right away.  Others have friends who have been falsely accused, causing them to lose contact with their children, or have themselves been accused, and see sex crime accusations as one more tool used by parents in custody disputes to keep the other parent away from their children.
The truth, as with most tough issues, is somewhere in the middle.  There are predators who abuse children, and need to be severely punished.  There are others who make false accusations of abuse in order to get their way in family court.  For parents who want their ex out of the picture, a sexual abuse accusation is the nuclear option.
People ask why, as a father am I willing to represent those accused of abusing and/or killing children.  My answer is that without a legal advocate there is no way to separate the false accusations from the real abuse.  I have seen good people separated from their children based on very shaky accusations.  I will take on a sex crime client if I believe that they are not guilty, and they are willing to do everything they can to prove their innocence.  If you are falsely accused of abuse you will find no better ally than me.  
If you are anyone you know is being accused of sexual abuse or a sex crime, please have them call a Minnesota criminal defense attorney at Ed Shaw Law to discuss their rights.  From Little Falls, MN through Brainerd, MN and up to Bemidji, MN and all areas in between we can help you defend yourself.  Call us today at 218-825-7030.  

Bankruptcy Avoidance: Debt Management

Debt Management to Avoid Bankruptcy

People often ask me if they should avoid filing bankruptcy because it will damage their credit.  The best thing you can do for your credit if you have debt that you cannot pay is to declare bankruptcy.  If you do not pay the debt, your credit will get bad and stay bad until you pay it off, which usually takes many years, sometimes decades.  

Filing bankruptcy eliminates the debt, and allows your credit to start getting better immediately.  You will be eligible for most home loans in 3 years, for car and other loans sooner.  Most people who file bankruptcy have better credit afterwards than those in a similar situation who do not.  

Stay tuned for the next blog entry, tips from my banker friend about how to rebuild your credit fast, at no cost to you.  

From Little Falls, Wadena, and Brainerd to Bemidji and Walker, Ed Shaw is your local bankruptcy attorney.  Now offering $0 Down Bankruptcy help!


Minnesota Family Law, Divorce, and Custody: Make Technology Work for You.

Let technology be your friend

Technology give us opportunities for evidence gathering in family law, divorce and custody cases that did not exist even a few years ago.  We have all seen videos of police beating up suspects, abusive spouses, and other bad acts captured on cell phone videos.  If you are in a divorce or custody battle and you see the other side abusing the children or doing anything else that is not right, you can record it.

The law in Minnesota allows you to record events when you are present.  Having visual evidence when we go to court makes it easier for us to win your case, the judge can see it, not just take our word for it.

You should also save voicemail messages, texts, emails from the other side or witnesses that may help your case, do not delete anything!  Facebook, Twitter and other social media are also great sources of evidence.  Save what the other side does.

When you are leaving messages, texting or on social media, remember, the other side can see what you do and save it.  Do not write or say anything you would not want the judge to hear.  Trust me, the judge will not want to hear you telling your ex what an A…Hole they are.

Call a Minnesota Family law attorney in the Brainerd, Aitkin, Little Falls, Bemidji, and Walker area today for a free consultation!  218-825-7030.


Minnesota Criminal Law: Expungement and Criminal Defense

Expungement and Criminal Defense

Expungement is a process of removing a criminal conviction from your record.  Having a criminal record can make life very difficult.  It can prevent you from getting jobs, housing, working in certain professions, even custody of your children.  Getting convictions expunged is often needed to allow you to lead a normal life.

Good news, recent changes in Minnesota law have made expungement easier in some cases.  The process still requires convincing the judge to expunge your conviction, the law give judges the right to decide if you receive expungement.  

Knowing how to present the case to the judge is still key to success.

The best way to win an expungement case is to not have a criminal record in the first place.  If you are charged with a crime you need to know the consequences of a conviction so you can work towards a settlement that avoids them.  Getting help from a good attorney up front will save you time and money in the long run.  

I have had many clients who plead guilty to get a case over with, or because they did not want to hire an attorney and regretted it later.   Some ended up paying more to expunge the conviction than they would have paid up front to defend the charges.


Jury Trials and Minnesota Criminal Law

Minnesota Criminal Law and Jury Trials

Because the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial, many think that jury trials did not exist before the Constitution.  That is not true, the right to a jury trial is hundreds of years old, established in England by King Henry the 2nd in 1166.  You have the right to be judged by your peers if you are charged with a crime, or involved in certain types of civil cases.

If you are charged with a crime, you want an attorney who is comfortable arguing to a jury.  You would be amazed at how many attorneys avoid jury trials.  A friend of mine knew a criminal defense attorney in the cities who looked like a big shot. 

He had a fancy office, always wore hand tailored suits, slick advertising, and drove a top of the line German sports car.  One place he never went in that car was the courthouse on jury trial days.  In over 20 years of practice he had never argued in front of a jury.  

If you hire a paper tiger, even a well dressed one to defend you, prosecutors will know and will not take them seriously.  If you are charged with a crime the stakes are high.  Ask any attorney you are thinking about hiring if they have jury trial experience.  If they do not, look for the door.


Hire a local Brainerd Minnesota Criminal Lawyer

If you are charged with a crime, you should hire a trusted local criminal lawyer to handle your case immediately.  But what should you look for in a Minnesota criminal lawyer?
What to look for if you or someone you know is charged with a crime?

It happens more often than you think, people are accused of breaking the law in some way.  What type of lawyer should you hire?

When you are charged with a crime the stakes are high –  prison, jail, loss of jobs, work or professional licenses, loss of driver’s licenses are all on the table.  You need someone who will do the best for you, but you do not want to spend more than you need to.

Will a metro attorney with a fancy office and lots of advertising help your chances of winning?

No.  There is an advantage in hiring a good, local attorney who knows the court system and how to work with the local prosecutors, judges and juries.  A slick attorney will not go over well with a local jury.  

Good legal work, like other expert help costs money, expect to pay, but do not pay more than you need to, go local.