If you or someone you know recently experienced a vehicle search in Minnesota, the ordeal probably raised many questions and concerns.
You might be wondering if the search was lawful. Here are some things you should know about search and seizure laws in Minnesota.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Minnesota Constitution protect you from unreasonable search and seizure. In most cases, the authorities must obtain a search warrant before searching your person or property because these laws exist.
There are, however, some special circumstances under which law enforcement officials can search your property without obtaining a search warrant. Police may search your vehicle if they see evidence of a crime in plain view. For example, if you have an open bottle of alcohol in the cup holder or drug paraphernalia in the console, authorities have the right to search without a warrant. The police can also search you and your vehicle if you give consent. Similarly, they may search your belongings if they arrest you for a crime or if they believe a credible threat to public safety exists. The broad and vague nature of the public safety exception sometimes leads to unwarranted and unfounded searches.
Evidence obtained without a search warrant and not under these circumstances may not be valid in court. Understanding state and federal search and seizure laws can help you and your legal team create a strong defense against the charges you face.