No jail time for Minnesota basketball star

A University of Minnesota basketball star was relieved last week to learn that he will not be put in jail for violating his parole when he was charged with drinking and driving in July. The decision was made by a Miami-Dade judge, who concluded that the basketball player still has “the ability to turn around.”

The Gopher forward was on probation stemming from a felony battery charge in Florida in 2009. Following the charge, the basketball player was placed into a pre-trial intervention program because he was a first-time offender. Had he stayed law-abiding during his probation, the case would have been sealed.

However, the athlete was arrested for violating a restraining order held by a St. Paul woman before his probation was up and became illegible for the program in Florida. The case started from scratch and the basketball player pleaded no contest to the battery charge. He was put on probation, which was set to end in February 2013.

That’s when the third strike occurred. The star forward was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Minnesota on July 1, which sent him back to Florida Court, where he could have been sentenced to time in jail.

The athlete and his lawyer asked the judge to consider four extra years of probation, but the judge decided that a sentence of two years of probation along with 20 hours of community service per month during that time was enough, noting that the basketball player is “still amenable to treatment.”

However, the judge did give the basketball player a stern warning. He said this could be the athlete’s last chance to get his act together. It appears that the basketball star plans to take the warning to heart. He said he plans to prove right everyone who stood by him through this process, including the Golden Gophers.

Source: Star Tribune, “VERDICT: No jail time for Mbakwe; 2 added years of probation, other stipulations,” Amelia Rayno, Oct. 19, 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.

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