Below are the top criminal law changes in Minnesota in 2018.

Misrepresenting an assistance animal is a crime
Under Minn. Stat. § 609.833, it is now a petty misdemeanor in Minnesota to intentionally misrepresent an animal as an assistance animal to obtain rights or privileges knowing they are not entitled to such. Subsequent violations are misdemeanors. Property owners are provided immunity, under Minn. Stat. § 604A.302, for injury or damage caused by assistance animals if not caused by the owner’s negligence and if the owner in good faith believed the animal was an assistance animal or was told it was an assistance animal.

Point-of-sale skimmer crimes
The Legislature expanded the “Unauthorized Computer Access” criminal statute (Minn. Stat. § 609.891) to also criminalize point-of-sale skimmers. It is a felony for anyone to access an electronic terminal through opening any panel or access door without authorization and placing or attaching an electronic device to capture access device information. And it’s a gross misdemeanor to access an electronic terminal through opening any access door without authorization.

DWI loophole closed for snowmobile, ATV use
Under the old law, someone who got a DWI on a snowmobile or ATV was prohibited from operating those types of vehicles for a year, but someone who got a DWI in a car or truck was not prohibited from operating those types of vehicles. The Legislature closed this loophole, so now no matter what type of vehicle the person commits a DWI in, they are prohibited from operating any type of vehicle for the appropriate period based on the level of the offense. This new law has been called “Little Allen’s Law” because it was spurred by the tragic death of Alan Geisenkoetter by an intoxicated repeat DWI offender on a snowmobile in Chisago County.

Drug law changes: keeping kratom away from minors and modifying DWI statute
Kratom is a legal organic supplement that is listed as an opioid. Although not listed federally as a controlled substance, five states categorize it as a controlled substance. It’s still legal in Minnesota to adults over 18. Now under Minn. Stat. § 152.027, Subd. 7 it’s a gross misdemeanor to sell kratom to a minor under 18, and it’s a misdemeanor for someone under 18 to possess kratom.

The DWI statute was modified to criminalize driving under the influence of an “intoxicating substance” after the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the previous language of driving under the influence of a “hazardous substance” was not broad enough.

Happy New Year!