Serious criminal charges nearly cost teenager his freedom

Most people in Anoka recognize that teenagers don’t always make the best decisions. They will say and do things that leave their parents shaking their heads and wondering what exactly they were thinking. Just because a teenager does something that their parents or members of the public don’t agree with, however, does not mean that it is should be criminal in nature. Fortunately for one teenager, a grand jury has recognized that and it is refusing to indict him on some very aggressive criminal charges.

The teenager was originally arrested on suspicion of making terroristic threats and police and prosecutors were originally trying to charge him with making threats to make or use a bomb and potentially to hijack a vehicle. The reason? the young man was an aspiring rapper who had posted a song lyric on his Facebook page about the recent Boston bombing.

Should the teenager have posted something somewhat controversial in such a public forum? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that his rap lyrics were anything more than lyrics. It is within an individual’s right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment to write what he or she wants and to put it on Facebook. There are some limited exceptions, but there is considerable license. Fortunately for the teenager, the grand jury recognized his lyrics for what they were and refused to charge the teen.

This high-school student was tremendously lucky, as these kinds of criminal charges could have gotten him in very serious trouble. Had he actually been charged, it would have been crucial to work with a criminal defense lawyer who would be able to successfully convince a judge that the teenager was merely exercising his right to free speech and have the case thrown out.

Source: Rolling Stone, “Grand Jury Rejects Indictment of Teen Arrested for Rap Lyrics,” John Knefel, June 6, 2013

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.