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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.