Saturday, May 31, 2014

MN Cops Search Your Vehicle (Explained)

As an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer, I get a lot of questions about vehicle searches.  Here are something you need to know to protect yourself and your rights.  

In order to lawfully search a vehicle in the State of Minnesota, law enforcement must first obtain a search warrant. All vehicle searches conducted without a search warrant are presumed to be unconstitutional. If the government wants to search a vehicle without getting a search warrant, the right to search must fall under one of a few exceptions to this warrant requirement. 

Listed below are a few brief descriptions of each exception. 

Search Incident to Arrest 
In the context of motor vehicles, this exception allows the cops to lawfully search an occupant of a vehicle and the passenger-compartment area of the vehicle if: 

  • At the time of stop the accused could easily access the passenger area of the vehicle and any containers in the vehicle; or 
  • When here is a reasonable belief that evidence of the crime for which the person was arrested might be found in the vehicle. 

This search warrant exception first requires a lawful arrest. If the police did not have a right to place the person under arrest, evidence found during any subsequent search will not be admissible. However, if these factors are met, the police may lawfully search the passenger area of the vehicle, including any containers, bags, purses, luggage and clothing. It makes no difference whether it was the driver who was arrested or a passenger. 

Plain View Seizure of Evidence 
This exception allows the police to seize evidence of criminal activity that is in plain view. In other words, if, after a lawful traffic stop, an officer approaches the vehicle and sees something illegal (eg., a bag of drugs) the officer can lawfully seize that evidence without getting a search warrant. 

See: it is not a search to see something in plain sight. However, the stuff must be immediately apparent ... that what he is seeing is evidence of criminal activity ... before he can seize it without a search warrant. A police officer could not, for example, open a box or container (like a pack of smokes) just to open it and see what's inside.

Probable Cause to Search for Evidence 
This exception is somewhat unique to motor vehicles. Generally, a peace office needs probable cause and a search warrant to lawfully search for evidence. However, due to the mobile nature of motor vehicles, courts have held that as long as the police officer has probable cause to believe evidence of a crime is concealed somewhere in the vehicle --- often based on "the odor of marijuana," he may stop and search the vehicle without a search warrant. This includes the right to search all packages, bags, and containers that may reasonably hide or contain the evidence --- even opening them. As long as the police officer has enough information to where he could get a search warrant, the mobile nature of motor vehicles do not require that the officer actually get the search warrant. 

Inventory Search 
This is like a catch-all ... because the police will often want to tow a vehicle.  And, see ... when they do, they can conduct an inventory search of it without a search warrant. Most police departments have policies authorizing an inventory search of an impounded vehicle; however, the policy must make clear that the inventory search if part of routine procedure in cases that involved the tow. The police cannot conduct a search for purposes of finding evidence. The search must be conducted pursuant to a department policy to inventory the contents that the police are taking into custody. If the police do happen to find drugs in the vehicle, or any other evidence of criminal activity, that evidence will be admissible and will be used against you. 

Consent Search 
This is one I think anyone can understand ... the cops can and will ask to search a vehicle.  If you say "yes" --- that might be enough. Granted, the police officer must have a reason to suspect criminal activity before he can even ask the owner or driver of the vehicle for permission to search. If the officer legitimately suspects criminal activity and the owner or driver gives the officer permission to search, the officer can search the vehicle without a search warrant. If the owner or driver of the vehicle specifically limits the areas or things that they agree can be search, the officer must limit the scope of the search to only that area. 

If you or someone you know was recently been the subject of a vehicle search, make sure you call an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer. The Rolloff Law Office represent individuals throughout the state.  Call today to set up a FREE CONSULTATION: (612) 234-1165.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Roseville & Maplewood Shoplifting Attorney

Many people are unaware of the serious consequences of a Minnesota Theft/Shoplifting conviction. 

Even if you have been charged with a misdemeanor offense, you may still face jail time and/or a fine. And, you may face problems in the future because employers, banks, professional associations, credit bureaus, colleges, universities and landlords may check your background before agreeing to work with you.


Because being charged with Shoplifting is serious - not only in court but also to your career and professional life - you should strongly consider hiring a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.

Shoplifting is a serious crime.  Being charged with Theft, no matter how small the amount, can  negatively impact your life. If you have questions, call the Rolloff Law Office to get FREE ANSWERS --- (612) 234-1165

Friday, May 9, 2014

Hennepin County Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

The crimes that juveniles commit are the same as those that adults commit. From underage Drunk Driving to murder, the only difference in the commission of these crimes is the age of the defendant.

Depending on the crime, the juvenile may establish a juvenile criminal record, which means the record will be sealed when they turn 18. If they are tried as an adult because of the severity of their crime and their age when they committed it, the record could follow them throughout the rest of their life. This could cause them difficulty finding a place to live, finding meaningful employment, and even going to college.

If you are the parent of a child who has been charged with a crime, it is important to secure the assistance of an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney Through this experience, your child can receive the best possible result in their case.

Experience With All Types Of Juvenile Offenses

There are some crimes that juveniles are charged with more than others. Some of these common crimes are:

  • Theft
  • Assault
  • Vandalism
  • Underage DWI
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Probation violation
  • Drug possession

Juveniles can also be charged with sex crimes and even murder. 

If you are the parent of a child who has been charged with a criminal act, you are most likely wondering about your child’s future. The good news is that there are some options for your child so that he or she can have a productive future. To learn more, call the Rolloff Law Office at (612) 234-1165 to set up a free consultation.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hennepin County DWI - Bail (Explained)

Almost without fail, in the State of Minnesota, individuals arrested for (suspected) gross misdemeanor or felony-level DWI offenses often detained in jail, pending a court appearance. Believe it or not, someone who has been arrested, without a warrant, can spend four days or more in jail before he has a court appearance addressing possible conditions of release. 

An experienced Hennepin County DWI Attorney can help get your friend or family member out of jail as soon as possible under the circumstances. If you would like to explore jail release options, call the Rolloff Law Office at (612) 234-1165  for a free consultation. Often, we can get a judge to set bail in situations where no bail has been set.

One thing you need to know is a bail bondsmen often will call an arrestee's home or family members to solicit their business. Before you do that, I would strongly suggest that you (first) speak with an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney  before paying because often you can sometimes post bail for less money or can avoid posting bail altogether to secure a person's release.  

Something to Consider

In a warrantless arrest such as the typical DWI case, the prosecution and courts must comply with two rules.  

1. A judicial determination of probable cause to detain the defendant must be made within 48 hours of the arrest. This process should also set bail or conditions of release --- although some defendants will continue to be held without bail. If the court fails to make that decision, the jail must release the defendant without any conditions. 

2. If a judicial determination of probable cause is made within 48 hours of arrest, the defendant nevertheless must appear in court within 36 hours.  (The 36-hour rule does not include the day of arrest, Sunday, and holidays.) So, if someone is arrested at 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, the person would have to appear in court by noon on Tuesday, assuming Monday is not a holiday.  

Types of Offenses

Gross misdemeanor DWI cases, i.e., charges of Second or Third Degree DWI/Test Refusal --- a defendant is entitled to release without any conditions upon posting maximum bail/bond of $12,000. In other offenses, the bail maximum bail amount will vary. 

If maximum bail is set at $12,000, the defendant has the option of posting $12,000 cash with the jail or retaining a bail bondsman to post bond in the amount of $12,000. If a defendant posts $12,000 cash, he or she will be entitled to return of $12,000 minus any fines and court costs upon resolution of the case. If the defendant fails to appear in court as required, the court may revoke the bail and the defendant could forfeit the $12,000. Because most defendants do not have access to $12,000 cash on short notice, most defendants will retain a bail bondsman.  

Bail Bondsman

A bail bondsman fee generally is 10% or less of the bail amount. Thus, if bail is set at $12,000, the defendant or his family member would pay the bail bondsman $1,200 or less to secure release of the defendant. The bail bondsman then will post bond with the court. If the defendant fails to appear in court as required, the bail bondsman will be liable to pay the court $12,000 if the defendant is not brought to court in a timely manner. In that case, the bondsman will attempt to bring the defendant to court, and if unsuccessful, will sue the defendant or the co-signer of the bond for $12,000.    

If a defendant has retained a defense lawyer, the bail bondsman often will agree to post bond for less than 10% due to the lower risk involved.

In felony cases, the bail analysis is more complicated. A defendant usually will have to appear in court where a judge will set bail based on arguments made by the prosecution an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have questions about jail release, please the Rolloff Law Office at (612) 234-1165