In criminal law, we have Minnesota constitutional defenses.
More Rights with State Constitution
A state court has greater power to enforce your rights under the state constitution; than under the federal constitution.
So the federal constitution protects the minimum basic freedoms — a floor. But state constitutions can assert more legal protections for individuals within that state, above that federal floor.
“It is unnecessary to rest our decision on the uncertain meaning of [federal law] when the Minnesota Constitution alone provides an independent and adequate state constitutional basis on which to decide.”State v. Hershberger, 462 N.W.2d 393, 396-97 (Minn. 1990).
And if a Minnesota Court rules based upon the Minnesota Constitution; a federal court may not reverse that ruling. And, federal precedent interpreting the United States Constitution is not binding upon Minnesota Courts interpreting the Minnesota Constitution.
So Minnesota Constitutional defenses have advantages.
Article I, Bill of Rights: Minnesota constitutional defenses
Like the U.S. Constitution, our state Constitution features a Bill of Rights, in Article 1.
And similarly, the Courts will enforce these rights. So in criminal cases, these state constitutional defenses can make the difference. Let’s mention some of our Minnesota constitutional rights, below.
Sec. 3. protects the liberty of the press (forever inviolate), and “all persons may freely speak…”
Jury Trial: Minnesota constitutional defenses
Sec. 4. declares “The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate…”
No Excessive Bail; Punishment fits the crime
Sec. 5. prohibits EXCESSIVE BAIL, UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS.
Notice; Right to Confront; Subpoena; Right to Counsel
Sec. 6. provides RIGHTS OF ACCUSED IN CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS: “The accused shall enjoy the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor and to have the assistance of counsel in his defense.”
Due process; No Self-Incrimination; No Double Jeopardy; Pretrial Release
Sec. 7, includes DUE PROCESS; PROSECUTIONS; DOUBLE JEOPARDY; SELF-INCRIMINATION; BAIL: “No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law, and no person shall be put twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense, nor be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. All persons before conviction shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses when the proof is evident or the presumption great.”
More on pretrial release: Get Out of Jail After Arrest – Tips for Getting Your Loved One Out.
Free of searches; Limited Search Warrants
Article I, Sec. 10. concerns UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES PROHIBITED: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the person or things to be seized.”
Right to sell home-cultivated farm or garden products
Article XIII, Sec. 7. No license required to peddle. Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.
For cases on Minnesota Constitution “Products of Farm or Garden” clause: Minnesota Constitution: Growing Cannabis After Legalization.
Freedom of Conscience
Minnesota Constitution’s freedom-of-conscience clause:
Article 1, section 16. The right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience shall never be infringed . . . nor shall any control of or interference with the rights of conscience be permitted . . . ; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the state.”
The State Constitution provides more protection for religious freedom than the United States Constitution.
Cases: Minnesota constitutional defenses
In an example of state constitution defenses, a Minnesota Supreme Court decision says that roadblocks were unconstitutional seizures under the Minnesota Constitution. But they were not under federal constitutional law. Ascher v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 519 N.W.2d 183 (Minn. 1994).
And another example is State of Minnesota vs. Francisco Garcia, 683 N.W.2d 294 (2004). The Minnesota Supreme Court held Minnesota Statutes §260B.130, subdivision 5 (2002), violated the Minnesota Constitution’s equal protection guarantees. It did so by denying jail credit to “extended jurisdiction juveniles” for time served in custody.
“The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.”– William Hazlitt, English essayist (1778 – 1830)
Minnesota constitutional defenses: Liberty for all
The Minnesota Constitution is both a sword and a shield to help protect the People of Minnesota from government abuse.
So attorneys, courts, and juries can all use Minnesota constitutional defenses to protect the Liberty of all of us.