Gopher Mbakwe’s Minnesota DWI Triggers Florida Probation Hearing

Officials at the University of Minnesota revealed last week that senior forward Trevor Mbakwe with the Gopher basketball team was arrested in July by Minnetonka Police on charges of driving while impaired. Ultimately, he was convicted of the misdemeanor drunk driving charge and sentenced to 30 days in the workhouse, but the judge stayed 28 days of that sentence. The basketball player was given credit for two days in jail, and he was placed on probation, and given several terms to meet while on probation.

University officials also looked into the drunk driving allegations, but said last week that the senior would be allowed to remain with the Gopher basketball team. However, Mbakwe is on probation in Florida on a felony assault conviction from 2009. Wednesday, a judge in Florida scheduled a probation violation hearing on the assault charge due to the Minnesota DWI allegations.

Mbakwe had pled no contest to the felony assault in Florida (Minnesota law does not recognize not contest pleas for defendants in this state). He was initially placed into a diversion program, but prosecutors raised a probation violation issue in 2011, and Mbakwe was kicked out of the diversion program for allegedly violating a restraining order in the Florida case.

The recent Minnesota DWI conviction now could be a real issue for Mbakwe in Florida. The senior forward is scheduled to appear Friday in Florida for a probation violation hearing. Sources say that Mbakwe could be given jail time or possibly additional probation at Friday’s hearing.

In Minnesota, probation violation allegations can involve complex issues. That is especially true when an alleged probation violation is founded on a new criminal charge. A defendant can be facing the legal issues in the new charge, and also have a separate probation violation hearing that can bring consequences. It is important to discuss any charge with legal counsel, but when allegations arise during probation, the stakes can become higher in the two separate cases.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Mbakwe faces probation violation hearing Friday; jail time a possibility,” Amelia Rayno, Oct. 18, 2012

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.