Rasmussen Hearings are hearings involving a request by the defense to suppress evidence prior to a trial. To get there, your defense attorney will file a motion asking the court for such relief based on an illegal seizure, illegal search, unlawful confession, or unlawful identification. Some courts may call Rasmussen Hearings Contested Omnibus Hearings, Motion Hearings, or Evidentiary Hearings. But they all generally operate in the same manner – the defense is looking to challenge some legal issue in your case before it proceeds to a court or jury trial.
Rasmussen Hearings derive from State ex rel. Rasmussen v. Tahash, 272 Minn. 539, 553-54, 141 N.W.2d 3, 13 (1965). This case stands for the requirement that the prosecution must give a Rasmussen notice under Minnesota Rule of Criminal Procedure 7.01. This notice must be given to the defense on, or before, the defendant’s Rule 8 Hearing according to the rules, so that the defense can decide whether to demand a Rasmussen Hearing at that time. In practice, however, Rasmussen Hearings are often not demanded until the Omnibus Hearing.
The Rasmussen Notice that the prosecution must give under Rule 7.01 should include evidence obtained from the defendant and of identification procedures of the defendant (i.e. a disclosure of the police reports, audio and video evidence, photographs, and other evidence the prosecution has against the defendant must be turned over to the defense so that an adequate defense can be prepared).
At a Rasmussen Hearing, the prosecutor will often bring the peace officers involved in the case. They will then often have those officers testify and your defense attorney will have the opportunity to cross examine them and call witnesses on your behalf. Often, the judge will take the matter under advisement and issue a written ruling later. In some cases, the judge will decide the motion on the spot after hearing arguments from both sides.
In some cases, the prosecution and defense will agree to the facts of the case through police reports and other evidence and will then simply have a debate on the legal issues either orally or in writing. This is called stipulating to the facts of the case simply for the pre-trial issue that is being challenged. This often occurs when no facts are in dispute, just simply how the law was applied is at issue.
Significantly, if the defense loses the Rasmussen Hearing, then it does not mean the case is over. That does not mean you are automatically guilty. You will still have the right to have a court or jury trial to determine the outcome of your case. Plea negotiations are almost always an option after a Rasmussen Hearing as well. But, if you do win your Rasmussen Hearing, then check with your defense lawyer. This may mean that some or all of your charges will be dismissed, or at a minimum, you will likely be on better footing heading into a trial, which can often mean a better plea offer will be on the table for you to consider. Or, you can proceed to a trial with some of the evidence in your case unavailable to the prosecution.