“[W}hen it comes to the Fourth Amendment, the home is first among equals.”[1] Justice Sotomayor authored an important opinion in the bout between the Automobile Exception and the Curtilage Doctrine in Collins v. Virginia.[2] The Court held the automobile exception did not permit an officer to enter the curtilage of a home without a warrant…

“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…

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…

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…

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 Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals in a drug case addressing two important issues: (1) the proper standard of review for a district court’s conclusions of law in appeals by the State; and (2) whether a dog-sniff of a car was supported by reasonable articulable suspicion. This blog is two parts….

In using the Fourth Amendment to the advantage of their clients, lawyers must distinguish between: (1) a “house,” which is provided full Fourth Amendment protection; and (2) the “curtilage.” A warrantless search of the former will send up red flags to any criminal defense attorney, but the latter, despite receiving somewhat less Fourth Amendment protection,…

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that it is unconstitutional to charge someone with refusing to submit to a urine test in a DWI case in State v. Thompson. The decision came the same day as the court’s decision in State v. Trahan[1] which ruled that it is also unconstitutional to charge someone with refusing…

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