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Smell of Marijuana Is Not Probable Cause to Search in MA

Published On: July 10th, 2014

In two separate cases on Wednesday, Massachusetts’ highest court ruled the odor of unburnt marijuana alone does not amount to probable cause to search automobiles. Based on the decriminalization of one ounce or less of marijuana in the state, in 2011 the same court in Commonwealth v. Cruz held the smell of burnt marijuana no longer suggests criminal activity to justify a search.

The newest decisions (Commonwealth v. Overmyer and Commonwealth v. Craan), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts expands on that previous decision by also prohibiting law enforcement from relying on odor of unburnt marijuana to justify searching automobiles. Based on the same decriminalization of marijuana reasoning as the burnt marijuana odor ruling, the court stated the mere smell of marijuana does not, by itself, give law enforcement the ability to determine whether the person has a criminal amount of marijuana (more than one ounce), and therefore cannot give rise to a warrantless search.

Although these decisions apply to Massachusetts law, the rulings could provide a basis for same reasoning and arguments in Minnesota as possession of small amounts of marijuana in this state (42.5 grams or less, or 1.4 grams or less in an automobile) have also been decriminalized. Read more about marijuana possession laws in Minnesota here.

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Minneapolis drug lawyer Coley Grostyan regularly fights for those accused of criminal marijuana possession throughout the State of Minnesota.

Law Office of Coley J. Grostyan, PLLC
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55415
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New MN Criminal Record Expungement Law for 2015

Published On: May 15th, 2014

Governor Mark Dayton signed the Second Chance Expungement Bill into law yesterday. The new law will give much needed relief to individuals whose employment goals and housing options have been hindered by past criminal convictions. Unlike the current law where a finding or admission of guilt prevents someone from ever sealing arrest and booking records held by law enforcement, the new law will allow for the sealing of all records related to the arrest, booking, charges, and conviction under certain circumstances. This is a significant step in helping people who may have made youthful mistakes, but are being denied employment opportunities and housing years after the conviction. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2015.

You may benefit from the new Minnesota expungement law if you meet any of the following requirements:

  • Successfully completed the terms of a diversion program or stay of adjudication more than one year ago;
  • Were convicted of a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor and have remained law abiding for two (2) years following the completion of probation;
  • Were convicted of a  gross misdemeanor and have remained law abiding four (4) years following the completion of probation; or
  • Were convicted of a listed low-level felony offense and have been law abiding for five (5) years following the completion of probation

Read the entire bill here.

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Coley Grostyan is an experienced Minnesota expungement attorney who has a successful track record of sealing arrest and conviction records for his clients.

Law Office of Coley J. Grostyan, PLLC
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55415
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Drug conviction now required before MN law enforcement can take property

Published On: May 7th, 2014

On Tuesday, May 6, 2014, Governor Mark Dayton signed a new forfeiture bill into law that requires a criminal conviction of a drug crime before the government can take any property associated with the crime. The law will go into effect on August 1, 2014.

Under the current law, law enforcement have the authority to seize property immediately if it is suspected the property is related to drugs, even if no criminal charges are ever filed. Law enforcement can seize cash, vehicles, firearms, jewelry, and other property if they merely suspect the property is somehow connected to illegal narcotics. Once the property is seized, the property owner must file suit in district court within 60 days, or they give up their property rights. Unfortunately, filing a case to challenge a forfeiture typically requires payment of significant filing and attorney’s fees to ensure there are not any procedural or legal errors in the case filing.

Furthermore, the current law creates an incentive to seize and forfeit property even if no criminal charges are filed as law enforcement can receive 90% of the value of property to supplement their budget. To the surprise of no one, this law has led to some newsworthy law enforcement misconduct, including the circumstances surrounding the disbanding of the Metro Gang Strike Force and the multimillion dollar settlement that followed.

Read the entire bill signed by Governor Dayton here.

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Coley Grostyan is a Minnesota drug defense lawyer who fights for his clients in challenges to government seizure and forfeiture of property.

Law Office of Coley J. Grostyan, PLLC
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55415
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MN House passes bill to limit DWI immunity for legislators

Published On: April 10th, 2014

April 10, 2014

Yesterday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed H.F. 2281 with a vote of 115-13 in favor of the bill. The bill has been forwarded on to the State Senate for consideration.
The bill, if enacted into law, would make a DWI a “breach of the peace,” allowing the lawmaker to be arrested while the house is in session. After being arrested and booked, lawmakers would be still be allowed to vote. Current law grants legislators immunity from arrest while the house is in session except for “treason, felony, and breach of the peace.” The reason for the current law is to combat arrests that are intended to prevent a legislator from voting.

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Coley Grostyan is a Minneapolis, MN DWI defense attorney who represents individuals accused of alcohol related crimes in the Minnesota.

Law Office of Coley J. Grostyan, PLLC
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55415
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MN Bill to prohibit websites from charging a fee to remove mugshots

Published On: March 24th, 2014

A bill that would prohibit the practice of private mugshot websites charging a fee to remove booking photos is making its way through the Minnesota legislature. HF1940 would modify the language of Minnesota Statute § 13.82 to prohibit the publishing of a booking photograph if that website requires payment of a fee to remove the mugshot.

Currently websites such as mugshots.com and bustedmugshots.com collect publicly available mugshots and post them online for anyone to see. The problem is that even if the person was never charged with a crime or had the charges dismissed, the mugshot remains on the website unless you pay the website’s removal fee. Even those who have had their criminal record expunged by a judge’s order still need to pay the mugshot removal fee. A quick check of mugshots.com reveals a fee of $399 to remove one mugshot. The cost rises substantially if you want to remove multiple booking photos.

The proposed bill would prohibit publishing a booking photograph if the website requires a fee to remove the photo. Additionally, in cases where no charges were ever filed or there was no conviction, the law would require the websites to delete the mugshots immediately. Fines for violating the proposed law begins at $500 per posted photograph and can climb to $1,500 if the website continues to ignore the law.

Read the entire bill here.

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Coley Grostyan is a Minnesota criminal defense and expungement attorney who regularly helps clients attempting to seal arrest and conviction records.

Law Office of Coley J. Grostyan, PLLC
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55415
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"Mr. Grostyan is excellent at what he does. I would highly recommend him to anyone needing/seeking legal advice and or representation. Thanks Again."





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