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Things to know about search and seizure in Minnesota

Feb 25, 2024 | Uncategorized

Being in the custody of Minnesota police can be a frightening experience, especially if you have never undergone an arrest prior to that moment. Even the moments leading up to an arrest can be unsettling, such as if a traffic officer pulls you over and wants to search your vehicle. The more you understand about search and seizure laws ahead of time, the better able to defend your rights you’ll be if you wind up sitting handcuffed in the back of a police car.  

There are certain questions police should ask you before searching your vehicle or your person. In fact, in most cases, a police officer should be in possession of a validly authorized warrant before conducting a search during a traffic stop. There are exemptions to this rule, however, which is why it’s important to review Minnesota search and seizure laws ahead of time, so you can determine if an unlawful search has taken place leading up to, during or following an arrest.  

You do not have to consent to search and seizure in Minnesota 

Perhaps a police officer has asked to search your person or vehicle during a traffic stop. You may refuse to consent. Before conducting a search, the officer should ask you questions and make statements like the ones shown in the following list:  

  • You are under no obligation to consent to a search and can stop a search at any time. 
  • You will likely face arrest and prosecution if I discover illegal items in your vehicle or on your person. 
  • Do you understand these things? 
  • Is it okay for me to conduct a search of your person or vehicle? 

If a police officer shows you a warrant, you must allow the search. For example, if they show up at your door and want to enter your home, you must let them in if they produce a search warrant. If they do not have a warrant and no exemptions exist, you do not have to provide entry. 

Various types of searches 

In addition to knowing how to exercise your rights regarding search and seizure laws in Minnesota, it’s equally important to understand the different types of searches that police might use during an investigation. If a police officer pats you down, he or she is likely checking for weapons. This is known as a frisk search. This kind of search might occur prior to an arrest, such as if you are passing through a scanning station at an airport.  

A custodial search (as its name implies) occurs after an arrest has taken place. This is a more complex type of search than a frisk search. Finally, a visual body inspection is a search that takes place after removing clothing. The slang term for this is a strip search. Police must adhere to strict protocol to conduct a visual body inspection. If you have been arrested and believe an unlawful search and seizure took place, you should not hesitate to obtain criminal defense support.