As of August 1st, several laws that were passed in the 2009 legislature session take effect. As part of an overall effort to stop sex trafficking in Minnesota, the criminal penalties are now more severe. The law also changed the definition of sex trafficking. Fines are increased and the law now provides a 25 year sentence for first and second degree cases involving aggravating factors such as repeat offenders, the victim suffering bodily harm during the offense, more than one victim is involved, or if the time the victim was held in debt bondage or forced labor for more than 180 days.
The crime of prostitution in a public place is clarified so it is consistent throughout statutes and the law enhances the penalty for repeat prostitution related violations in certain instances.
This law also adds language to Minnesota state statute that an employer cannot retaliate against a victim of a violent crime or the victim’s spouse or immediate family for taking reasonable time off of work to attend criminal proceedings.
Lawyers in Minnesota will be pleased with a new law that takes effect. This law eliminates a per-hour cap on an award of attorney’s or agents fees in a civil action or contested case where the state is a party. Under current law, when a court finds the state is not justified in bringing forth an action, the defendant is entitled to an award of attorney fees and expenses. However, the $125 hourly cap that was established in 1986 was still in statute. With the new law, it will allow a judge to issue a reasonable award based on the prevailing market rate for the kind and quality of service received by the defense.
Finally, Minnesota drivers are allowed to exceed the speed limit by 10 mph when passing another vehicle going the same direction on a two-lane highway with a speed limit of at least 55 mph. Effective August 1, 2009 failure to wear a seatbelt is a primary offense – so buckle up.