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2011 criminal law summaries released

WORTHINGTON -- The League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) recently released a preliminary report on 2011 law summaries that covers legislative action through May 23.

As a result of unresolved budget issues, the LMC released the preliminary document, and will release a complete 2011 law summary when the full budget is resolved, the LMC stated.

A total of 117 chapters of law were sent to Gov. Mark Dayton, and he vetoed 23 of those chapters, including eight major appropriation bills, the omnibus tax bill, the voter ID requirement bill and several others.

Several changes were made to criminal and civil law, one of which ups the consequence for intentionally hurting a public safety dog.

The law was amended to increase the criminal penalty from a gross misdemeanor to a felony for intentionally and without justification causing great bodily harm or substantial bodily harm to a public safety dog, such as a police K-9.

The amendment also requires a court to order a person convicted of the killing or harming of a public safety dog to pay restitution.

No cap is placed on the amount of restitution, although the court would be allowed to reduce the amount of restitution to a reasonable level and order it paid in installments of the offender is indigent.

This goes into effect Aug. 1.

Another statute amendment modifies the crime of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle where death or bodily injury results from the attempt to flee.

It extends the law to situations where a suspect flees initially in a vehicle, but abandons the vehicle and continues to flee by other means.

The proposal stemmed from a Minneapolis case in which a suspect crashed his car and continued on foot.

An officer was hit and killed by another peace officer involved in the pursuit, but because the suspect was no longer fleeing in a motor vehicle, prosecutors could not charge him under the statute with the death of the peace officer.

The amendment goes into effect Aug. 1.

The Schedule I controlled substance list was expanded in the state to include designer drugs 2C-E, 2C-I, plant food, bath salts and synthetic cannabinoids.

Plant food and bath salts are slang terms for the designer drug mephedrone. The amendments go into effect July 1.

It also provides that anyone who unlawfully sells any amount of a synthetic cannabinoid is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, and anyone who possesses it is guilty of a misdemeanor.

In other action, legislators voted to reinstate the violation of a domestic abuse no contact order as a targeted misdemeanor for which fingerprinted is required, which goes into effect Aug. 1, and to make it a gross misdemeanor to assault a reserve officer, utility employee, postal service employee or police horse being used by a reserve officer.

The penalties can go as high as a felony, based on the amount of harm caused to the person or horse.

Under the scope of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) a provision now states law enforcement is to make community notification when an individual who was committed as a sexually dangerous person or sexual psychopathic personality is released into a community.

The provision states law enforcement will make the notifications consistent with the requirements for level III predatory offenders regardless of the level risk assigned to the patient.