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Tom Bottern
State of Minnesota
S.F. No. 878 - Omnibus Criminal Justice Policy Bill (Second Engrossment)
Author: Senator Ron Latz
Prepared By: Kenneth P. Backhus, Senate Counsel (651/296-4396)
Date: April 23, 2015


Article 1 -- Public Safety (Various Senate Files)

Section 1 amends the Safe At Home chapter of law to provide that when the performance of an act is prohibited under the chapter as of February 1, 2015, but no penalty is provided, the commission of the act is a misdemeanor. This section creates an exception to the change made in section 23. (S.F. 405, Latz)

Section 2 provides for a five year period of ineligibility for a hunting license for persons convicted of specified hunting violations while possessing a firearm with a suppressor. (Koenen floor amendment)

Section 3 amends the provision of law addressing the authorized colors and markings of certain motor vehicles. Provides that vehicles used by bondsmen or bail enforcement agents may have any colors other than those specified for law enforcement vehicles and may not display markings typically associated with law enforcement vehicles. (See also section 21.) (Schmit floor amendment)

Sections 4 to 6, 10 to 15, and 18 amend various provisions in law prohibiting certain persons from possessing firearms or providing penalties for certain persons who possess firearms to include references to ammunition. Defines “ammunition.” (Latz floor amendment to the Koenen amendment)

Section 7 provides that suppressors lawfully possessed under federal law are lawful in Minnesota. Under current law, it is a felony to sell or possess one. Defines “suppressor.” (Koenen floor amendment)

 Section 8 provides that a permit to carry a handgun constitutes the required notice for a person to legally possess one in the state capitol and surrounding buildings. Under current law, such a person must notify the commissioner of public safety. (Koenen floor amendment)

 Section 9 permits, if legal under federal law, (1) federally licensed entities to sell and deliver firearms and ammunition to residents of any state, and (2) Minnesota residents to purchase firearms and ammunition in any state. Under current law, these provisions are limited to the specified activity occurring in contiguous states. (Koenen floor amendment)

 Section 16 prohibits “straw purchases” of firearms by making it a gross misdemeanor for a person to purchase or obtain a firearm on behalf of a person who is ineligible to purchase or possess one.  (Latz floor amendment to the Koenen amendment)

Section 17 amends the permit to carry a handgun law. Under current law, the commissioner of public safety must publish a list of states that have carry laws that are not substantially similar to Minnesota’s. A person with a permit from a state not on the list may possess a handgun in Minnesota as if the person had a permit from Minnesota. This section changes the list requirement to refer to states with laws that are not similar to Minnesota’s, thus, recognizing as valid the permit laws of more states. (Koenen floor amendment)

Section 19 addresses the potential seizure of firearms by law enforcement during states of emergency related to public disorder or disaster declared by the governor. Places restrictions on the actions that law enforcement and government entities may take during emergencies. Provides for the remedies and relief that a person aggrieved by a violation may seek. (Koenen floor amendment)

Section 20 adds a new section to Minnesota Statutes, chapter 626 (peace officers; searches; pursuit; mandatory reporting) addressing the use of drones by law enforcement. (S.F. 1299, Dibble)

Subdivision 1 defines the terms “adverse result,” “law enforcement agency,” and “unmanned aerial vehicles/UAVs (i.e., drones).”

Subdivision 2 prohibits law enforcement agencies from operating drones without a search warrant.

Subdivision 3 provides exceptions to the search warrant requirement in subdivision 2. Authorizes law enforcement agencies to use drones: (1) in emergency situations that involve a reasonably likely threat to the life or safety of a person; (2) to temporarily collect information from a public area if a court has determined that there are specific and articulable facts demonstrating reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, that the use of a drone will uncover this activity, and that alternate means of data collection are cost-prohibitive or present a significant risk to a person’s bodily safety; (3) to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack if the agency documents the factual basis for the use to a court within 48 hours of the commencement of use; and (4) to prevent the loss of life and property in natural or man-made disasters if the agency documents the factual basis for the use to a court within 48 hours of the commencement of use.

Subdivision 4 provides the following limitations on the use of drones.

  • Law enforcement agencies using drones must comply with all FAA requirements and guidelines.
  • Drone acquisitions must be approved by the government entity overseeing the law enforcement agency.
  • Drones must be operated in a manner to collect data only on clearly and narrowly defined targets and to avoid data collection on an individual’s home or areas other than the defined target, unless the warrant or order provides otherwise.
  • Law enforcement agencies may not deploy facial recognition or other biometric matching technology via drone use, unless specifically authorized to do so by a court order or warrant.
  • Drones may not be equipped with weapons.

Subdivision 5 provides that law enforcement agencies may disclose or receive information about persons acquired through drone usage if the person has given written consent to the disclosure.

Subdivision 6 prohibits data collected on an individual, home, or area, other than the subject identified in the court order or warrant from being used for any purposes except as provided in subdivision 5. Requires the deletion of data collected as soon as possible. Classifies data collected as criminal investigative data.

Subdivision 7 provides that evidence obtained or collected by law enforcement agencies in violation of this section is not admissible

Subdivision 8 specifies the notice that must be given to the subject of a warrant or court order under this section.

Subdivision 9 authorizes an aggrieved party to initiate a civil action against a law enforcement agency for violating this section.

Subdivision 10 requires law enforcement agencies that use drones to annually report specified information to the commissioner of public safety, and for the commissioner to submit an annual summary report to the legislature and make this information available to the public via the department’s Web site. Requires annual reports by judges who have issued a search warrant or order under this section to the state court administrator. Requires the state court administrator to report to the legislature and post on the state Supreme Court’s Web site information on drone usage.

 Section 21 amends the provision of law addressing the authorized uniform colors for law enforcement officers. Provides that the uniforms of bail bondsmen or bail enforcement agents or persons acting at the direction of a surety may be any color other than those specified for law enforcement officers. A violation is a petty misdemeanor. Defines “bail bondsman” and “bail enforcement agent.” (See also section 3.) (Schmit floor amendment)

Section 22 requires the chief law enforcement officer of a law enforcement agency to ensure that when a peace officer employed by the agency is involved in an officer-involved incident, an outside investigation into the incident must be conducted by an agency other than the one that employs the officer. Provides that if the officer is employed by the police department of a city of the first class, the outside investigation must be conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), unless the BCA is unable to conduct the investigation in a timely manner (in which case, another outside agency may conduct the investigation). Requires the results of the outside investigation to be reported to the county attorney of the county in which the incident occurred. Authorizes an internal investigation to be conducted if this does not interfere with the required outside investigation. Provides that if the county attorney determines there is no basis for prosecution, the investigation report must be released to the public. Of note, defines “officer-involved incident” as meaning the use of deadly force by a peace officer that results in great bodily harm or death to another. (S.F. 466, Latz)

Section 23 provides that the commission of any act prohibited by statute for which no penalty is imposed is a petty misdemeanor. Under current law, the commission of these acts are misdemeanors unless the prohibition is in a statute enacted or amended after September 1, 2014, in which case it is a petty misdemeanor. Thus, this section broadens the petty misdemeanor default to include the commission of all statutorily prohibited acts for which no penalty is imposed. (S.F. 405, Latz)

Section 24 repeals two laws superseded by the change to the suppressor law in section 7. (Koenen floor amendment)

Article 2 -- Juvenile Justice (S.F. 994, Latz)

Sections 1 and 2 provide that inmates serving mandatory life sentences under sections 8 to 10 may be released after having served a minimum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Under current law, absent the changes made in these sections and sections 8 to 10, these offenders would serve life without release sentences. In addition, provide that juvenile offenders serving life sentences for crimes not involving life without release are eligible for release after serving a minimum term of imprisonment of 20 years, rather than 30 years.

Section 3 amends the juvenile delinquency code’s purpose provision. Under current law, the purpose is to promote the public safety and reduce juvenile delinquency. This section changes that to “to promote the public safety by reducing juvenile delinquency.”

Section 4 addresses the use of restraints in juvenile delinquency proceedings. Defines “restraints.” Prohibits restraints from being used on a child appearing in court, unless the judge makes specified findings. Requires the judge to provide the child an opportunity to be heard before ordering the use of restraints. Requires the judge to make findings of fact in support of an order.

Sections 5 and 6 amend the juvenile code’s adult certification law and extended jurisdiction juvenile law to provide that when a court is imposing an adult sentence under either of those sections, the court is not required to sentence the child under the terms of a mandatory minimum sentence that would otherwise be applicable to the offense.

Section 7 authorizes peace officers to refer a child who is arrested or subject to arrest to a diversion program. Applies only to nonviolent offenses, and those for which the officer is not acting pursuant to a warrant or court order to take the child into custody.

Sections 8 and 9 amend the heinous crimes sentencing provision to require a court to sentence an offender who was a child at the time of commission of the offense to life with the possibility of release rather than life without release. (Under sections 1 and 2, the offender must serve a minimum of 20 years in prison before being eligible for release.)

Section 10 makes the same changes described in sections 8 and 9 to the sex offender life without release sentencing provision.

Section 11 supersedes, to the extent it conflicts with section 4, a Minnesota Rule of Juvenile Procedure that, in part, addresses the use of restraints on children in juvenile delinquency proceedings.

Section 12 requires judicial districts to develop protocols to address how to implement and comply with section 4.

Section 13 states the legislative findings and intent related to minimum sentences for juvenile offenders.

Of note, sections 1, 2, and 8 to 10 are effective immediately and also apply retroactively to offenders sentenced to life without release before the effective date.


Article 3 – Forfeiture (S.F. 384 and 385, Newman)


This article shifts the burden of proof from the claimant to the prosecutor in innocent owner cases involving the following forfeiture actions: DWI, designated offenses, controlled substance offenses, and fleeing, drive-by shooting, and prostitution offenses. It also provides for the return of a vehicle in DWI forfeiture to an owner who is not the offender, if the vehicle is needed for employment or dependent care purposes or the owner took reasonable steps to prevent the use of the vehicle by the offender.

The article establishes procedures to divide joint property, conduct commercially reasonable sales, and pay off security interests. It outlines responsibility for towing, storage, and court fees if property is returned. It also codifies the homestead exemption found in case law.

Finally, the article limits the uses for the proceeds from the sale of forfeited property and addresses forfeiture reporting requirements.

Sections 1 and 19 address forfeiture reporting requirements. Requires law enforcement and prosecutors to annually report to the state auditor the total dollar amount of expenditures made using forfeiture funds in each of four specified categories.

Sections 2, 7, and 18 prohibit law enforcement or prosecuting agencies from using the proceeds from the sale of forfeited property to pay base salaries, benefits, overtime, bonuses, or litigation costs of a private attorney. Applies to forfeiture involving DNR, DWI, and criminal offenses.

Sections 3 and 4 are technical. They move the existing definition of "family or household member" from the DWI forfeiture law where it is no longer used due to the striking in section 5 to the DWI license plate impoundment law where it is still used.

Sections 5, 6, 15 to 17, and 20 strike language regarding innocent owner and security interest provisions found in the following forfeiture statutes: DWI, designated offenses, controlled substance offenses, and fleeing, drive-by shooting, and prostitution offenses. Cross-references new provisions that are consolidated in sections 10 and 11.

Section 8 defines “actual knowledge” and “constructive knowledge,” the latter meaning knowledge imputed to family or household members of an owner who has been adjudicated guilty three or more times for a same or similar violation in the past ten years.

Section 9 strikes obsolete language from 2010 requiring law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies to develop a model forfeiture policy. Requires agencies to maintain written forfeiture policies consistent with the 2010 model policy.

Section 10 provides limitations and defenses to forfeiture; relating to ownership at the time of the crime.

Filing a Claim

Paragraph (a) establishes a process by which an innocent owner may file a claim for return of property seized for forfeiture. Cross-references offenses listed in sections 5, 6, 15 to 17, and 20.

Paragraph (b) allows prosecutor to request a five-day postponement of a hearing to complete an investigation.

Paragraph (c) preserves defendant’s right against self-incrimination in the civil forfeiture trial.

Burden of Production and Proof

Paragraph (d) places the burden of production on the innocent owner claimant to show: (1) full or joint ownership or security interest in the property; and (2) claimant is not the offender.

Paragraph (e) places the burden of proof on the prosecutor to then show that the property is subject to forfeiture because the claimant: (1) had actual or constructive knowledge of the crime; or (2) consented to the act or omission of the underlying offense.

The burden of proof required is the preponderance of the evidence.

Return of Property; Jointly Owned Property

Paragraph (f) requires law enforcement to return property within a reasonable time if innocent owner claim prevails. Relinquishes the state’s rights in the property.

Paragraphs (g) and (h) establish a process by which jointly owned property may be divided and allocated to an innocent owner, including sale of the property, buy-out of the offender’s portion, or other equitable means.

Hardship Exception

Paragraph (i) provides an exception to paragraphs (e) to (h) - division of the property and innocent ownership requirements. Allows the court to return the undivided vehcile for DWI forfeitures if the claimant shows that failing to return the vehicle deprives the claimant of reasonable means to employment or to provide dependent care, or that the innocent owner claimant took reasonable steps to prevent the use of the vehicle by the offender.

Fees; Security Interests

Paragraph (j) places responsibility for towing and storage fees on the claimant if the vehicle is returned within 60 days of seizure. If the innocent owner claims are valid, the law enforcement agency must pay for fees accruing after the 60-day period.

Paragraphs (k) and (l) require any proceeds of a seized motor vehicle to be applied to a perfected security interest after deducting the agency costs. Exempts agency from liability to secured party for any amount still owing on loan if sale is conducted in a commercially reasonable manner.

Section 11 provides limitations and defenses to forfeiture; relating to ownership acquired after the crime. Creates new standards similar to those in section 10 for property acquired after the crime for a bona fide purchaser who paid valuable consideration and did not have notice of a title defect.

Section 12 requires the law enforcement and prosecuting agencies to reimburse a prevailing claimant for any court filing fees.

Sections 13 and 14 codify the Torgelson case exemption for homestead property in criminal code forfeitures. Section 14 also makes the same changes made in sections 5, 6, 15 to 17, and 20.


Article 4 – Restoration of Right to Vote (S.F. 355, Champion)

Section 1 provides that an individual convicted of a felony is eligible to vote upon completion of any incarceration imposed and executed by the court.  If the person is later incarcerated for the same offense, the individual’s right to vote is lost only during the period of incarceration. Clarifies that a person on work release is not eligible to vote.

Sections 2 to 7, 9, 10, and 12 are conforming changes related to section 1.

Section 8 requires the secretary of state to develop accurate and complete information about the voting rights of people who have charged with or convicted of a crime. Requires the secretary of state to make this information available electronically to specified criminal justice personnel and the public.

Section 11 requires the chief executive officer of each state and local correctional facility to designate an official within the facility to provide specified notice to inmates who have had their civil right to vote restored.

Section 13 repeals Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 201.155, requiring the state court administrator to report to the secretary of state certain information about persons convicted of a felony for the purpose of determining the restoration of their right to vote.  It also repeals Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 201.275, regarding the investigation and prosecution of voter registration violations.

Section 14 provides that the article is effective August 1, 2015, and applies to elections held on or after that date.  Notices required by this article must be provided to individuals released from incarceration on or after August 1, 2015. 

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