In Minnesota, there are primarily four ways suspects enter the criminal justice system once accused of committing a criminal offense.
Citation: A police officer does not arrest a suspect but instead gives a citation or “ticket” explaining what the suspect is charged with and usually a date to appear in court.
Summons and Complaint: A complaint is a written document charging a defendant with criminal offense. Complaints are often mailed to defendants in cases involving non-violent or less serious criminal charges. A summons is a written notification and order to appear in court to answer the allegations in a complaint.
Arrest with a Warrant: When a court determines there is probable cause that a suspect committed a crime, a judge may sign a warrant for the suspect’s arrest. This often happens when the alleged offense is violent or serious in nature, such as a felony.
Arrest without a Warrant: If police witness a crime being committed or respond to a scene where they determine a crime was committed, a suspect can be arrested without a warrant.
Minnesota’s 36 and 48-Hour Detention Rules
Whenever an adult suspect is arrested without a warrant and taken into custody, they must see a judge without necessary delay and not more than 36 hours after being arrested. This rule applies to all Minnesota misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony arrests where there is no warrant. In misdemeanor cases, a suspect who is not brought before a judge within the 36-hour limit must be released with a citation. This does not mean the suspect will not be charged at all, it simply means they cannot be held in custody any longer and must be given a written citation charging them with a misdemeanor offense. This 36-hour rule can be extended “for cause shown.”
Suspects often become frustrated when they are arrested but do not see a judge for several days and believe the 36-hour rule was violated. How can this happen? When calculating the 36-hour rule, the clock starts ticking at midnight of the day the suspect was arrested. You do NOT count the day of arrest, Sundays, or legal holidays. So for example, if a suspect is arrested on Monday at 3:00 pm, the 36-hour clock starts ticking at 12:00 am (midnight) on Tuesday. The 36-hour expires on Wednesday at 12:00 pm (noon). Here are more examples:
Arrested on Monday – Appears in court on Wednesday at noon
Arrested on Tuesday – Appears in court on Thursday at noon
Arrested on Wednesday – Appears in court on Friday at noon
Arrested on Thursday – Appears in court on Saturday at noon (will appear before judge on Friday)
Arrested on Friday – Appears in court on Monday at noon
Arrested on Saturday – Appears in court on Tuesday at noon
Arrested on Sunday – Appears in court on Tuesday at noon
Arrested on Friday and Monday is Legal Holiday – Appears in court on Tuesday at noon
Rule exception: If a suspect is arrested pursuant to a warrant, the same 36-hour rule applies but weekends and legal holidays are counted.
What is the 48-hour rule and how is it different from the 36-hour rule? Whenever an adult suspect is arrested, they cannot be detained longer than 48 actual hours from the time of arrest unless a judge has signed a complaint or determines probable cause exists for continued detention. If a court does not find probable cause, the arrested suspect must be immediately released. The 48-hour clock starts once the suspect is arrested and runs continuously for the next 48 hours with no exceptions. Every day counts, including the day of arrest, weekends, and legal holidays.
Even though the 36-hour and 48-hour rules are different, both must be followed when holding a person in custody. Summary: Once a suspect is arrested, they must be released within 48 hours from the time of arrest unless a judge authorizes extended detention or signs a complaint charging the suspect with a crime. Assuming a judge signs a complaint or authorizes extended detention, the suspect must be brought before a judge within 36 hours, excluding the day or arrest, Sundays, and legal holidays. If either of these rules is violated, it does not mean charges will be dismissed nor will evidence such as statements made in jail be thrown out (unless a defense lawyer can convince a judge otherwise).
Keyser Law, PA is a criminal defense law firm with offices in Minneapolis and Stillwater. We represent Minnesotans facing criminal charges throughout the state. We also assist clients with early release from jail or detox. Call our office at (612) 338-5007 for a free consultation.