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“Ignorantia juris non excusat” means ignorance of the law is no excuse to escape liability. John or Jane Doe may not use this excuse to get out of a crime, but police officers can get away with it certain situations. Recently, the Minnesota Court of Appeals filed a decision inclined towards this theory in McGuire…

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States extended privacy protections against unlawful searches in rental cars. Justice Kennedy authored the unanimous opinion in Byrd v. United States and held that a driver of a rental car – who has the renter’s permission to drive – has a reasonable expectation of privacy against government searches of…

How can the police cite you for something that you had no appearance of doing? The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) continues to evaluate the basis for questioning and arrests by police officers. One thing we know for certain, is that probable cause must be present to make an arrest. SCOTUS states that…

Do some areas outside your home receive as much protection as your home under the Fourth Amendment? Recently, the Minnesota Supreme Court addressed that question in State v. Chute. The court analyzed whether an officer’s examination of a camper-tent outside someone’s home was a Fourth Amendment violation. This case highlights expanding the privacy of a…

Challenging Marijuana’s Classification as a Schedule I Controlled Substance What do George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, all have in common?[1] (Hint—it’s not the U.S. presidency.) The answer: all have grown, encouraged others to grow, or have used marijuana.[2]…

Rental Cars and the Fourth Amendment: Byrd v. United States Consider this: You are driving down the road in a rental car that your significant other rented but allowed you to drive. You pack your suitcase, place it in the trunk, and head down the road. A short time later, you are pulled over for…

Recently, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Collins v. Virginia. The Court pinned two popular Fourth Amendment terms against each other: curtilage v. the automobile exception. In this case, the issue is whether a motorcycle parked on a driveway next to a house under a tarp is curtilage of a home warranting…

Some people will do whatever a police officer asks them to do. Many of us are trained to obey authority and will cooperate by any means possible. How dare we be labeled as disobedient. Others, are a little more skeptical as distrust of authority and law enforcement can run deep. Some neither want to be…

If a police officer approaches you, whether you are in a vehicle or on foot, do you have the right to leave? This answer primarily hinges on whether a seizure is occurring. If one is, then you are likely not free to leave and vice versa.[1] The bedrock of the Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable…

Recently, the supreme court determined part of Minnesota’s disorderly conduct statute is unconstitutional.[1] Prior to this decision, you could commit disorderly conduct in several ways: three separate clauses in one subdivision give many avenues that can lead to you breaking the law. Some of these you would never consider to be remotely criminal. Did you…

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