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In Jail for the Weekend (Or More) – Minnesota’s 36-Hour Rule

26th June 2017

It is not uncommon for those arrested for DWI and other crimes in Minnesota to spend time in jail before formal charges are filed. When a police officer arrests a person without a warrant – which happens frequently (and virtually always in DWI arrests) – and the arrested person is not released by the police, the arrestee must be brought before a judge “without unnecessary delay” and in any event, not more than 36 hours after the arrest. This is Minnesota’s “36-hour rule” – essentially, a person must be released 36 hours after arrest unless they are charged with a crime.

Importantly, the 36-hour clock can take some time to begin ticking. This is because the 36 hours do not begin to run on the day of the arrest. Additionally, the rule excludes Sundays and legal holidays. The practical consequence of the same day, Sunday, and legal holiday exclusions is that a person arrested on a Friday or Saturday may face several days in jail, even though 36 actual hours will have expired well before their release.

Take the following example. Say a person is arrested on Saturday, July 1st. Under the rule, the person may not be eligible for release until Wednesday. Why? Well, remember that the 36 hours will not begin to run on the day of arrest (here, Saturday), nor will it begin to run on Sunday. The time will run on Monday, July 3rd, however, only 24 hours will elapse before July 4th, a legal holiday, begins. The clock will not run on July 4th, but will begin to run again at midnight on July 5th.  The person could spend 108 hours in custody before their “36 hours” expires.  And take note: the weekend of this example is fast approaching.