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Sunday, November 17, 2013

What to Do When the Feds Seize and Attempt to Forfeit your Cash or Property

Let's say you are at the Minneapolis airport and happen to be carrying $50,000.00 in cash in your backpack. The cash does not represent proceeds from any criminal activity. Instead, you are a hardworking American citizen who  dutifully saved the cash from the profits made running a small business.  Your plan is fly to California and use the cash to purchase  another small business at a bargain price.  You have  been waiting patiently in line and are about to go through airport security. Drops of sweat begin to glide down your back. You are nervous about your hard-earned cash.  The TSA officer greats you with a friendly smile and begins to dig  deeply into the bottom reaches of your backpack. The officer detects a suspicious  bag.  The bag is removed  and opened. The TSA officer's jaw drops as he gazes upon stacks of crisp one hundred dollar bills.  Shortly thereafter, a DEA officer   arrives on the scene, seizes  the bag of money,  and orders  you to follow him to windowless room. You object to the seizure of your cash and inform the officer the money is all legitimate. The officer laughs in your face and tells you that's what all drug dealers say. You are offended and demand the  immediate return of your cash. Your plea is disregarded. The officer hands you a  receipt verifying that your cash has been seized by the DEA. You are free to leave,  but nowhere on the receipt does it indicate  how much cash was  taken. All you are told  is that you will  receive a letter within 60 days. What is going to happen and what should you do?

The seizure and forfeiture of property by the Government  has  been around along time. Last year the Government seized $4 billion through forfeiture. There are two types of forfeiture, criminal and civil. A criminal forfeiture is judicial and occurs when a person in indicted in federal court for a crime and the property seized is named in the indictment. The seized property can only be forfeited if the person is convicted and the property can be traced to or connected with the underlying crime. In a civil forfeiture proceeding, the action is commenced against the property, not the person. As a consequence, no one is ever charged with a crime.

In the above airport example, a civil forfeiture proceeding is commenced. Within 60 days of the seizure, the Government must send written notice of the seizure to the small business owner. If the Government fails to send notice of the seizure within the sixty day period, the seized property must be returned to the owner subject to the Government's right to commence a forfeiture proceeding at a later time.

Within 35 days after the mailing of the written notice of seizure letter, the business owner must file a claim of ownership to the property. The claim must specifically identify the property, state the claimant's interest in the property, and be made under oath, subject to the penalty of perjury. Within 90 days of filing the claim of ownership, the Government must file a forfeiture complaint in federal district court. If the Government fails to file a forfeiture complaint or obtain a criminal indictment within the 90 day period, they must promptly return the seized property to the owner and can take no further action against the property.

There is a long list of the type of property subject to forfeiture including property involved in transactions with money laundering, property traceable to federal loan fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, and controlled substance crimes. The burden of proof will be on the Government to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture. The Government in our example will need to prove that the fifty thousand dollars in cash  was derived from, or traceable to, any proceeds obtained directly or indirectly from the commission of a criminal offense. The claimant will need to introduce evidence as trial proving that the cash was derived from earnings made running a legitimate small business.

Don't let the Government take cash, homes and cars without anyone ever being convicted or  charged with  a crime. If you are a victim of a civil forfeiture proceeding,  call Minneapolis defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 and stand up for your rights. Mr. Shane will file a claim on your behalf and demand a prompt hearing to contest the civil forfeiture of your property.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

When Can Police Freeze a Suspected Drug House while Obtaining a Search Warrant?

Officers who conduct a lawful arrest may   freeze a suspected drug house  while obtaining a  search warrant.  Officers must have  probable cause to believe that evidence of criminal activity may be found on the premises. When officers freeze a drug house, all occupants  will be required to stay and will be detained   while other officers  engage in the process of obtaining a search warrant. No police search can occur in the suspected drug house  without a  warrant.
Confidential informants often provide police with reliable information to establish probable cause that a residence or business is being used to store drugs. This situation may occur when after a controlled buy of narcotics is made,  police observe a drug dealer go inside  a business or residence. In order to freeze the suspected drug house, police must reasonably fear that the occupants of the drug house will attempt to destroy any narcotics once they become aware of the arrest of the drug dealer.
If the police do not have probable cause to believe evidence of criminal activity will be found in a suspected drug house and police do not fear the immediate destruction of the  evidence,  the freezing of the drug house pending the issuance of the search warrant would be unconstitutional. The Fourth Amendment protects the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searched and seizures. U.S. Const. amend IV. When there is an illegal search and seizure by police, the evidence can not  be used against a defendant at criminal trial and the charge is dismissed.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense resulting from a drug raid, call criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website at for more information on the Best Defense.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Minnesota Robbery Defense Lawyer

One of the  central issues for the jury to decide in every robbery case  is  the identification of the suspect. The state will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the person who in fact committed the robbery.  A conviction will not stand if it is based on inaccurate testimony.

A person can be charged with simple robbery in Minnesota when there is a taking of personal property from a victim through the use of force or the threat of force.  Aggravated robbery occurs when  a suspect  uses  a dangerous weapon or inflicts bodily harm to remove  personal property from the  victim. 
What factors does the jury examine when deciding whether or not a defendant committed a  robbery? The court will instruct the jury to consider factors such as the opportunity of the witness to see the suspect at the time of the offense. Was the suspect wearing a hat with a visor covering the head and partially covering the face of the suspect? This lack of opportunity to view the suspect   could raise reasonable doubt in mind of the jury. A second factor is the length of time the witness had to view the suspect. The shorter the observation time, the greater the  doubt since the mind doesn't have the time to process the information. The third factor concerns the circumstances surrounding the view of the suspect by the witness. What were the lighting conditions, dark with shadows? What was the distance between the witness and the suspect? Where there any obstructions present to block the view? The fourth factor concerns the stress the victim was under at the time of the robbery. Stress has a way of distorting our memory and  casts doubt on the accuracy of any identification. A witness who experienced the intense stress of a robbery may wrongly report to  police the height, weight and facial features of the  suspect placing at risk the freedom of an innocent person who happens to match the descripiton. The final factor  relates to the length of time that passed between the time of the robbery and the time the witness identified  the suspect in a photo lineup. The greater the length of time, the greater the risk for misidentification since the accuracy of memory fades with time.
If you have been charged with  robbery in Minnesota or Wisconsin, call criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024. Mr. Shane has 30 years of criminal defense experience and recently obtained an acquittal for a client charged with aggravated robbery in Hennepin County, Minnesota. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

When Can Police Conduct a Pat Frisk?

Before the police can conduct a pat frisk, there must first be a lawful investigative stop. Police are allowed to temporarily detain a person or stop a car when there is reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed. The standard is less than the probable cause required for an arrest but more than a mere whim or idle curiosity. The Fourth Amendment prohibits any unreasonable search and seizure. If the investigative stop is determined by a judge to be unlawful, any evidence seized by the police as a result of a pat frisk is inadmissible in court
What if the investigative stop by the police was lawful, can they still  conduct a pat frisk? Yes, but only under limited circumstances. The police must have a reasonable suspicion that a person is armed and dangerous. If there is a reasonable suspicion that a person may be armed and dangerous, police may conduct a pat-down of a person's outer clothing to discover any weapons that may be used to assault the officer or any person  standing nearby. The reason behind the pat frisk law is to allow the officer to continue the  investigation  without fear of physical harm.
What factors would justify an officer in conducting a protective weapons search?  A suspect's appearance and actions are  important factors. For  example, a  bulge in a coat pocket in the shape of a gun or evasive conduct by the suspect could justify a pat frisk. The officer's knowledge of the suspect's criminal history is also a factor such as  a prior conviction for a violent crime. The neighborhood and time of day of the investigative stop may also be  factors. The type of crime for which a suspect is stopped may lead an officer to believe that a person is armed and dangerous. Crimes such as  robbery, burglary, rape, and high volume drug trafficking crimes  often justify a protective weapons search by  police.
A pat search for weapons must be limited to the outer area of a person's clothing. The scope of the search is limited to an attempt to discover guns, clubs, knives or any hidden item that could pose a threat to officer safety. If the officer detects an object thought to be a weapon, he would be justified in reaching into the suspect's clothing or a pocket to remove the item.
What if the officer exceeds the lawful scope of a pat frisk and removes contraband? The search and seizure would be deemed unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment and the evidence  inadmissible in court. If you have been a victim of an illegal pat frisk by the police, call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane now for a free phone consultation  at (612) 339-1024.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Do I have a Right to Make a Phone Call from Jail?

Yes, any person who is newly admitted as an inmate to a jail facility in Minnesota has a right to make either a local or collect long-distance phone call. The right to make a phone call from jail allows you to contact either a family member or a significant other and applies during the admission process. Inmates are also allowed to keep in contact with family members or significant others during their jail confinement. These calls must be collect calls and the minimum amount of time allowed per phone call is 10 minutes.
What about making a call to an attorney? Police officers are required by Minnesota law to provide a person who is in custody with private telephone access to an attorney who is either retained or to whom the restrained person is interested in consulting at no charge to the inmate or to the attorney. Police officers are required to provide reasonable phone access at the request of the person. The phone consultation with an attorney must take place before any other proceedings in the case, including a court appearance.
Is there a criminal penalty for failure to comply with the law? Yes, it's a misdemeanor offense for a police officer to deny phone access to any person who is restrained in a local jail facility.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When Can I Be Charged with Fleeing a Peace Officer in a Motor Vehicle?

It's  a felony offense in Minnesota for a driver to flee or to attempt to flee a police officer who is lawfully discharging his official duties when the driver knows or  reasonably  should know that he is being  pursued by a police officer.  The case normally begins by the officer attempting to execute a stop for  a traffic violation, a cancelled  or revoked driver's license, or for an outstanding warrant. The case usually involves  a driver increasing his speed to well over 100 mph combined with evasive driving conduct over a considerable distance.    The driver may eventually be stopped and arrested by the police or he may escape and avoid capture. If the suspect is arrested after the chase,  police will establish the identity of the driver. If the driver escapes, the police will follow up their investigation by using the plate number on the vehicle to track  the suspect to his residence for questioning in order to determine if he was the driver. 
The defense in a fleeing a peace officer case may focus on any of the following legal issues: (1) did the driver intentionally flee or attempt to flee the police officer; (2) was the officer lawfully discharging his official duty; (3) did the driver know or should he have known that he was being pursued by a police officer; and (4) was the suspect the same person who drove the vehicle on the date of the offense. If a suspect who escaped police pursuit is eventually caught, the police will attempt to gain an admission from him that he was in fact the driver. The suspect at this point should exercise his constitutional right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions from the police or police investigators. The suspect in a fleeing case should never discuss the facts of the case with any third person as they could potentially testify against him at trial regarding his statements. Please  do not discuss your case on a jailhouse phone as the conversation may be recorded. 
If you, or someone you know, has been arrested for fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane now for the "Best Defense"  at (612) 339-1024. Mr. Shane has been defending the freedom of the accused since 1983.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Best Defense in a Minnesota DWI Case

If your criminal defense attorney is  able to suppress the use of the blood, breath or urine test results  in your Minnesota DWI case, you will have found the key to winning your case. The use of a chemical test result by the prosecution is critical to a successful DWI prosecution. 

How does an experienced DWI attorney suppress the chemical test result? The defense lawyer will   file a motion with the court requesting that  the chemical test result not be allowed to be used  against you  at trial  on the grounds that the test result was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment.   What does the suppression of the chemical test for intoxication mean for your case? If the judge grants the motion to suppress the evidence, the prosecution  will lose the use of powerful scientific evidence to prove your intoxication at trial. The only evidence left  over  will be your driving conduct,  field sobriety test result, if any,  and statements you may have made about  alcohol or drug use. You now have plea bargaining strength and a chance for an acquittal at trial.

How were my Fourth Amendment rights violated by the police? There are only two ways the police can obtain a warrantless search for  blood alcohol concentration or the presence of a controlled substance in your body. The first is by obtaining your consent to conduct a warrantless search. The  second is by proving emergency conditions existed at the time of arrest which would justify the police in not first obtaining a search warrant from a judge. If the police did  not obtain your consent to search and there was no emergency circumstance,  police must first obtain a search warrant. If they failed to do so, your Fourth Amendment rights were violated. 

If you, or someone you know, has been charged with a Minnesota DWI, call Minneapolis DWI defense attorney Robert J. Shane for the Best Defense  at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information at

Sunday, June 9, 2013

When Can the Police Walk a Narcotics-Detection Dog Down the Hallway of my Apartment Building?

Police are required to have a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" of drug-related activity before they will be allowed to walk a trained narcotics-detection dog down the hallway  of your apartment building. The Minnesota Constitution protects   against unreasonable searches and seizures by the police. Evidence obtained as the result of an illegal search and seizure will be suppressed by the court and  can not be used against you at  trial. Suppression of the evidence is the price the police must pay for violating your constitutional rights. The  remedy  is designed to deter future police misconduct.
What  facts would create a reasonable, articulable suspicion of drug-related activity to support the use by  police of a narcotic-detection dog? Suspicion may be indicated by  a report of a high volume of short term traffic coming and leaving  the apartment. An observation that known drug users and drug dealers are visiting your apartment on a regular basis may create reasonable, articulable  suspicion.  A report by a citizen informant that drug paraphernalia was present in your apartment would provide a basis for conducting a dog sniff.  Knowledge by police that you were active in the use and sale of controlled substances would also be a factor. The suspicion required to use a narcotics detection dog  must be something more than a mere hunch by the police.
What happens if a narcotic-detection dog alerts to an odor of a controlled substance outside the door of my apartment? The police will draft an application for the issuance of a search warrant and submit the application and  warrant to a district court judge for approval. The warrant will allow the police to search the suspect and the apartment for evidence of controlled substances, paraphernalia, etc. A judge will review the search warrant affidavit to determine whether or not, under the totality of the circumstances, there is probable cause to believe controlled substances will be found in the apartment and on the person of the suspect.
What should you do if the police find controlled substances in your apartment during the execution of a search warrant? You will need to retain an experienced narcotics defense attorney to defend your freedom. The search warrant may be defective on the grounds that the police did not have reasonable, articulable suspicion to conduct the dog sniff used to support the issuance of the warrant. Call Minnesota criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024. Mr. Shane is a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney with  30 years of courtroom experience and a winning record.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Minnesota Tax Evasion Defense

Any person who willfully attempts to evade or to defeat a tax imposed by law is subject to criminal prosecution. A conviction for tax evasion under federal law is a felony offense and carries a fine of not more than $500,000.00 and imprisonment not to exceed 5 years.  

In order for the federal government to obtain a conviction for tax evasion, a prosecutor is  required  to prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) willfulness, (2) existence of a tax deficiency, and (3) an affirmative act constituting an attempt to evade or defeat payment of the tax. So what  affirmative acts are associated with  tax evasion? Some examples of tax evasion would include the following: concealing the nature, extent, and ownership of your assets by placing assets in the names of other people; dealing only in cash in order to avoid creating a financial record; maintaining no bank accounts;  falsely telling an IRS agent that you don't own any property; causing your obligations to be paid in the name of another person; failing to file tax returns; and paying creditors instead of the government.
The failure to file a tax return is not the same as the willful attempt to evade the payment of taxes. The willful failure to pay a tax when due is a misdemeanor offense under federal law, but the willful attempt to defeat and evade a tax is a more serious felony level offense and requires some affirmative action as mentioned in the above examples.  If you, or someone you know, has been charged in Minnesota with tax evasion, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you freedom. Attorney Robert J. Shane has 30 years of  experience in defending the freedom of the accused. Call now for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information at  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Can Minor Be Forced to Take a Drug Test by the Police?

If you are a minor and are suspected of having taken a controlled substance, you have no legal obligation to submit to drug testing at the request of a police officer. The police are only interested in gathering evidence to use against you in a minor consumption criminal case.

Minnesota Arrest Warrants

What should you do if you suspect there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest? You may be able to find out if a warrant has been issued for your arrest by searching online in the county where the crime occurred. Many police and sheriff's departments across Minnesota post the names of persons who have active arrest warrants online as a service to the public

How Soon After an Arrest Do I See the Judge?

If you are arrested in Minnesota without a warrant you must be brought before a judge within 36 hours.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Minnesota

It's a crime to drive a car in Minnesota when a person is under the influence of a controlled substance. Marijuana is defined in Minnesota as a Schedule I controlled substance. The punishment for a conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana can range from county jail time to imprisonment. Charges can vary  from a 4th Degree misdemeanor DWI to   felony DWI depending on the number of prior DWI convictions or license revocations a person has within the preceding 10 years. 
Probable cause to arrest for driving under the influence of marijuana requires a police officer to have more than mere suspicion but less than the proof beyond a reasonable doubt required for a criminal conviction. What are the usual circumstances and observations  of intoxication  made by a officer when deciding whether or not to arrest a suspect? The case usually begins with an officer observing bad driving conduct such as speeding, drifting over the lane dividers, illegal turn, etc. These observations will  justifying the initial stop or "seizure" of  the car under the Constitution.The officer then approaches the car and questions the driver attempting to gain an admission that he or she violated the traffic laws. Any admission made by the driver will be included in a traffic report and used in court to prove the legality of the car stop. Next, an officer who has presumably been trained in narcotics detection  will notice symptoms typically displayed by a person who is driving under the influence of controlled substance. The symptoms of intoxication can include watery and  glassy eyes, fidgety and anxious behavior, sweating and dilated pupils. The observation of these symptoms will justify the officer in requesting that the suspect exit the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests in order to determine intoxication. These tests can include a preliminary breath test to eliminate the possibility of alcohol followed by an eye-convergence test to show that your eyes react slowly to light. Police also look for an elevated pulse and body and eyelid tremors to justify an arrest. The officer will use his training and experience combined with a suspect's demeanor, driving conduct, and physical condition in order to establish probable cause for an arrest.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for driving while under the influence of marijuana or any other  controlled substance, you will need to hire an experienced Minneapolis criminal defense attorney to protect your freedom and reputation. Attorney Robert J. Shane has 30 years of criminal defense experience. Call now for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 or visit my website for "The Best Defense" at

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Law of No-Knock Search Warrants in Minnesota

The police may obtain and execute a no-knock search warrant in Minnesota when they have reason to believe that the evidence inside a home or business may be destroyed if advance warning of the police entry was given to the occupants. A no-knock warrant may also be justified in a situation where the circumstances present a threat of physical violence to the officers. Police are required to make a preliminary showing to a magistrate in a search warrant affidavit of  suporting facts that would justify the issuance of a no-knock warrant. The standard used by the Court when reviewing an application for a no-knock warrant is whether or not the facts alleged create a "reasonable suspicion" that knocking and announcing the presence of the police would create a danger to the officers, be futile, or allow the occcupants time to destroy  evidence once alerted to the presence of the police.

A preliminary showing of threats to the officers can be made by including in the search warrant application a reference to the criminal record of  the occupants for arrests or convictions for violent crimes. An arrest or conviction for an assault, dangerous weapon, or carrying weapons without a permit would all be examples of conduct that could present a threat of physical violence to the officer.

A preliminary showing in a search warrant affidavit of the liklihood of the destruction of the evidence could include an allegation that the occupants have a history of  destroying  evidence during the execution of prior search warrants.    

The Fouirth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." If the search warrant lacks sufficient grounds for the issuance of a no-knock warrant, an experienced  Minneapolis criminal defense attorney would file a motion to suppress the use of the evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search. If the Court grants a motion to suppress the use of the evidence at trial, the criminal case will be dismissed for lack of probable cause to believe a crime was committed.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime that involves evidence seized as a result of the execution of a no-knock search warrant, call Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation. Mr. Shane has 30 years of criminal defense experience and will examine the facts of your case to determine if the evidence against you was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. Call Mr. Shane now at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information at

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Self-Defense and the Duty to Retreat in MN

Was the self-defense claim doomed in the  Clifford case when he failed to retreat  to avoid the conflict with Vander Lee? The  best defense  for Sgt. Clifford  would have been  to simply walk  away and put an end to  the conflict.  

Minnesota law  authorizes the use  of a reasonable amount of force to resist  "an offense against the person." See The defense  has the burden at trial of coming forward with sufficient evidence to make self-defense an issue in the case. Once met, the burden  shifts to the prosecution to negate one of the following four elements of any self-defense claim: (1) an absence of aggression or provocation; (2) an actual and honest belief that imminent death or great bodily harm would result; (3) a reasonable basis existed for this belief; and (4) an absence of reasonable means to retreat or otherwise avoid the physical conflict.
A person can only assert a self-defense in an assault case   when  there is no alternative to the use of force. In other words, if Clifford had an opportunity to retreat from the confrontation  and failed to do so, the punch landed to the head of Vander Lee is not  considered self-defense. Did Clifford have the opportunity to retreat? It would seem so. The confrontation occurred in a public place with plenty of room to retreat. The victim was obviously intoxicated and   posed no real threat.  The defendant was a trained SWAT team leader with lightening quick  reflexes.  Sgt. Clifford could have easily taken one step backward and walked away the moment Vander Lee allegedly cocked his arm and readied his punch. The law always favors a peaceful resolution to conflicts over a  violent reaction. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Right To Refuse Probation in a Minnesota Criminal Case

Does a defendant  have the right to refuse probation? The answer is yes.   Often times the conditions of probation are more onerous to the defendant then serving out a jail or prison sentence. For example,  in a felony drug case a judge may sentence a defendant to 6 months in jail but decide to stay the execution of the jail sentence and place him on probation for  5 years. The judge has the authority to place conditions on the stayed jail sentence which could include random urinalysis, weekly meetings with a probation officer,  outpatient treatment, and   aftercare. A defendant may decide that he would rather serve six months in jail and compete his sentence rather than spending   5 years  fulfilling the conditions of his probation.
How do you execute a jail or prison  sentence in a Minnesota criminal case? You will need to retain an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney to enforce your right to refuse probation. The attorney will want to review your case file and advise you regarding  the advantages and disadvantages to executing the sentence. For example, the execution of the sentence could result in a permanent felony conviction rather than a misdemeanor conviction after the sucdessful completion of probation. You will need a criminal lawyer to schedule a hearing before the sentencing judge, argue the case, and  draft the appropriate motion, affidavit and proposed order.
If you are interested in exercising your right to refuse probation, call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more criminal defense tips and techniques at Attorney Shane has a winning record and has been defending the freedom of the accused for the past 30 years.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle Minnesota Law

What are the penalties in Minnesota for transporting marijuana in a motor vehicle? The answer depends on the weight of the marijuana and its location. If the police find a "small amount of marijuana" in the trunk of your car, the offense is only a petty misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $300.00 and no jail time. A small amount of marijuana is defined as 42.5 grams or less. See A petty misdemeanor offense is not considered a crime in Minnesota.

What if the police find marijuana in the passenger compartment of your car? The penalties will increase depending on the weight. If the police find 1.4 grams or less of marijuana in the passenger compartment, it's only a petty misdemeanor offense. See If the weight of the marijuana is more than 1.4 grams but less than 42.6 grams, you can be charged with a more serious misdemeanor offense for possessing marijuana in a motor vehicle. The penalties for a misdemeanor conviction in Minnesota are a jail sentence of 0 and 90 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000.00.

What are the penalties if the marijuana found by the police weighs more than 42.5 grams? Again, the penalties increase because of the weight. You can now be charged with the felony level offense of controlled substance crime in the fifth degree. See If the weight of the marijuana found by police exceeds 42.5 grams, the location of the marijuana in your car no longer matters.

The drug law in Minnesota does not punish you as harshly when marijuana is transported in the trunk of your car and weights less than 42.5 grams. In fact, it's not even a crime.

If the police find marijuana in your car, do you still have a defense? Yes, depending on the circumstances of your case. The stop of your car by the police may have been illegal. The search of your car by the police may have been illegal. You may be eligible for a drug diversion program. If you or someone you know has been charged with marijuana in a motor vehicle, you will need the "Best Defense." Call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 or read his blog for more tips and defenses at

Monday, March 18, 2013

MN Law on the Use at Trial of Defendant's Prior Acts of Domestic Abuse

The prosecution is allowed to introduce into evidence at a criminal trial  prior acts of domestic abuse  committed by a defendant against a victim of domestic abuse or against any other family or household members. See The statute has been interpreted to permit the prosecution to also introduce evidence of prior assaults committed by an accused against  former girlfriends. Evidence of similar conduct is admissible at trial unless the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. The trial judge will weigh this issue.

The prosecution will typically file a pre-trial motion seeking permission from the court to introduce evidence at trial of similar conduct by the accused. The state will detail for the court at a motion hearing the anticipated testimony of the former victims of domestic abuse. If the prosecution wins on the motion to introduce  similar conduct evidence, the defense will need to request that the court instruct the jury prior to the admission of the evidence that the jury is not to convict the accused based on conduct that is not a part of the present charge. It may be advisable for the defense at this point to  stipulate to  the facts  regarding the prior assaults with limited details rather than have  the jury hear live testimony from the former victims with graphic details. 

If you or someone you know has been charged with domestic abuse or domestic strangulation, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend your freedom and reputation. Call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information at Mr. Shane has 30 years of criminal defense experience and maintains a winning record.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Minnesota Law on Cell Phone Seizure without a Warrant

When can the police seize your cell phone without a warrant? This is a legitimate concern especially if  your cell phone contains incriminating information that can be used to prosecute you. The warrantless seizure of a cell phone is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment unless the seizure falls within one of the recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement.

The first exception is called the plain view exception.  The police are permitted to seize a cell phone without a warrant if it is  in plain view and the police are legitimately  in a location to view the cell phone.  If, for example, the police come to your house with an arrest warrant and find your cell phone next to the bed where you are  found sleeping, the police  are legitimately in a location to view the cell phone, assuming the arrest warrant is valid.  Secondly, the police must have probable cause to believe that the cell phone contains incriminating evidence. The police usually rely on their prior investigation to develop probable cause for the seizure. For example, if the police have knowledge that the phone was used to send an incriminating text message to a co-defendant, probable cause for the seizure can be established. The rationale behind the plain view exception is to avoid the possible destruction of evidence that could take place if the police were required to obtain a search warrant before  seizing the phone.

The second exception to the search warrant requirement for the seizure of a cell phone is known as the search incident to  arrest.When a person is lawfully arrested, the police are authorized to search the person for evidence of a crime and to also search the area within the persons reach where he may grab a weapon or destroy evidence of a crime.  If your cell phone is found on your person or within your immediate area, the police are allowed to seize the phone without a warrant if they  believe it may contain evidence of a crime.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for the "Best Defense." Mr. Shane has close to 30 years of criminal defense experience and a winning record. Call now at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website at

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Should I Snitch for the Police after a Minneapolis Drug Bust?

Snitching for the police has always been dangerous business. Police are very interested in climbing up the drug dealer food chain. They want to know who you bought your  drugs from and who else you may know that sells drugs. They want the big fish, not the small time dealer. Soon after your arrest, an investigator will come  see you at the jail and request an interview. Promises will be made about not charging out your drug case in exchange for your participation in a controlled buy of narcotics from your dealer. You may have to wear a wire and be given marked money. Promises of leniency at the time of sentencing may also be made to you. Think twice before you take the bait. Snitching is dangerous business. Your life could be placed at risk if the target learns that you snitched him out! You may even be called upon as a part of your cooperation agreement to testify against your drug dealer in court.

The decision to snitch should only be made after consulting with an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney. You may be eligible for a drug diversion program or for a "stay of adjudication"" resulting in no conviction. Why risk your life when the case could go away?

If you or someone you know has been arrested on a drug charge in Minnesota or Wisconsin, call criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane to schedule a confidential office consultation at (612) 339-1024. Mr. Shane has a winning record with 29 years of criminal defense experience. Please visit his website for more information on snitching for the police at

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Do Police Have to Inform You About an Arrest Warrant?

No, the police are not required to inform a criminal suspect about the existence of an outstanding warrant for his or her arrest. Prosecutors will usually request an arrest warrant when charging out a more serious case like aggravated assault or first degree controlled substance crime where the suspect poses a serious threat to public safety, or in situations where the accused has a prior history of not responding to a summons to appear in court.

If you or someone you know has an outstanding warrant for their arrest, please advise them to retain an experienced Minneapolis criminal defense attorney before they are arrested. Attorney Robert J. Shane has 29 years of successful criminal defense experience. For the “Best Defense” call him now at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information on outstanding arrest warrants at