Pre-trial asset restraint in Minnesota

In Minnesota, there are two types of pre-trial asset restraints and these include civil asset forfeiture and criminal asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture occurs when the government takes assets from the owner after providing some sort of notice about the impending action. In these cases, no conviction or criminal charge is necessary. In criminal asset cases, the government can seize property from a person before a trial if the owner has committed a crime. 

Asset restraint requirements 

Minnesota law states that when property is restrained before a trial, the law enforcement official collecting the property must leave a receipt with the person currently in possession of the property or at the site where the assets were found. In order to get the property back, the owner can provide the government agency with a bond that equals the amount of the property’s retail value. However, this option is not available if the restrained assets are contraband or being used for investigatory purposes.

Under Minnesota law, a court can restrain certain property if it is associated with a “designated offense.” These offenses include property felonies, crimes against other people and crimes committed using unauthorized computer access. Assets are subject to restraint before trial if:

  • The property was used to either commit or facilitate a crime
  • They were acquired while committing the offense
  • They are weapons that were used during the criminal action 

Additionally, property can only be restrained if there is established proof of a criminal accusation. 

Recent Supreme Court decision 

In February of 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that criminal defendants whose assets are frozen before a trial are not entitled to a hearing to challenge the claim that they committed a crime. This conclusion was the result of a vote by the Supreme Court against a Florida couple that stole medical devices and sold them for profit. After the couple’s crimes were discovered, the court froze their assets, including the $500,000 they intended to use for legal defense. Justices John Roberts, Stephen Breyer and Sonya Sotomayer voted against this ruling on the basis that freezing the couple’s assets would prevent them from hiring the lawyers they wanted.

This particular case did not address whether or not a defendant has the right to argue that the frozen assets were not connected to the alleged crime. Lower courts have already determined that a defendant is entitled to a hearing to discuss this subject. Criminal defendants, who want to contest that their frozen assets were not linked to the crime they are accused of committing, should work closely with an attorney in order to develop a strong defense.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.
Minnesota recently passed a public safety bill that brings sweeping changes to the state’s juvenile justice system. While minors sometimes run afoul of the law, the juvenile justice system seeks to account for the differences between children and adults. Therefore, while the penalties for adults convicted of crimes focus on punishment, those for juveniles are aimed at diversion and restorative practices.