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Minnesota Supreme Court makes decision in warrant case

There are many ways police obtain evidence for criminal cases. One is through property searches.

Now, one of the big issues when it comes to such a search is whether police had the proper authorization to do it. Evidence found in an invalid search may be able to be excluded. Among the things skilled defense attorneys can do for individuals facing criminal charges is look into the details of any property searches done in their case to see if police did anything that would make the search invalid.

Among the requirements that are present when it comes to police searches are various rules regarding warrants. Now, sometimes, it is fairly clear-cut what kinds of warrants would be required for a given search. Other times, a search falls into more of a gray area. Recently, the Minnesota Supreme Court made a decision adding some clarity in the state when it comes to one such gray area.

The case regards a woman who was arrested while visiting her boyfriend's apartment. Police arrested her after an officer saw she was at the apartment. When police entered the apartment to arrest her, police had an arrest warrant for the woman, but did not have a warrant to search the apartment. Some evidence was seized as a result of the arrest.

The case raised the issue of whether police, when they have an arrest warrant and know the person the warrant is for is visiting another person's home, have to get a search warrant to enter the home to search for the person the arrest warrant is for.

The case eventually made it to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the court recently decided on this issue. The court ruled that when police know someone they have an arrest warrant for is a guest at someone else's home, the arrest warrant is sufficient to allow police to enter the home to make the arrest, a search warrant is not necessary. In making this decision, the court asserted there were no added privacy expectations when a person is a guest at another's house that would justify requiring a search warrant.

As a note, the U.S. Supreme Court hasn't made any decisions directly touching on this topic.

One wonders what impacts this state supreme court decision will have here in Minnesota, and if the U.S. Supreme Court will someday take up a case directly touching on this topic.

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