Co-Founding Partner & Criminal Defense Lawyer Carson J. Heefner is an experienced criminal defense lawyer and founding partner in Heefner Nelson Law. Carson has handled hundreds of cases over the course of his career, ranging from minor traffic violations to murder. In addition, Carson has handled over 50 appeals to both the Minnesota Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Carson grew up in the Linden Hills neighborhood of South Minneapolis and attended Southwest High School. After high school, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated in 1993. He then enrolled at William Mitchell College of Law, graduating with honors in 1998.
After law school, Carson was fortunate to work for Sam McCloud, one of the most reputable and successful criminal defense lawyers in Minnesota. Because Mr. McCloud was a pioneer in the area of DWI/DUI defense in the State of Minnesota, Carson learned from the very best. In 2006, Mr. McCloud made Carson a partner. Carson was a partner in McCloud & Heefner, P.A. until forming Heefner Nelson Law in July of 2011.
During the course of Carson’s career, he has been instrumental in changing and defining bail and conditional release law in the State of Minnesota. Carson helped convince the Minnesota Supreme Court that cash only bail in unconstitutional (State v. Brooks), successfully argued in the Court of Appeals that a defendant is entitled to release on bail only, without the various onerous conditions that are typically imposed by the Court (State v. McMains); and prevailed at the Supreme Court in arguing that the policy of setting bail solely due to public safety concerns is unlawful (State v. Martin). These cases are routinely used by other defense lawyers in bail arguments before the district courts.
For all the ice fishing enthusiasts in the land of 10,000 lakes, Carson successfully argued in both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court that a DNR officer is required to obtain a warrant prior to entering an ice fishing house (State v. Larson). As a result, the controlled substance charges against his client were dismissed.
In the fall of 2013, Carson argued a very important Fourth Amendment case before the Minnesota Supreme Court. Carson‘s client was charged with drug possession after the vehicle in which he was a passenger was stopped. The driver was a suspected drug dealer, and Carson’s client was searched just for being a passenger. Carson argued in District Court that a warrant was required to conduct that search. He lost and appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The Court concluded that, under any circumstance, a person can be searched simply for being in a vehicle driven by a suspected drug dealer; the so-called "automatic companion" rule. Appalled by what he saw as a degradation of privacy rights, Carson requested review by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which only accepts roughy 10% of cases that request it. The request was granted, and the Court concluded that the "automatic companion" rule was a clear violation of one’s right to be free from unreasonable searches.
Carson lives in South Minneapolis and enjoys, amongst other things, golf, travel, and spending time with his two young children.
Co-Founding Partner & Criminal Defense Lawyer John N. Nelson’s primary focus has been Criminal Defense since 1999. As such, John is a seasoned veteran when it comes to Criminal Representation & Advocacy handling over 1,000 criminal cases in Minnesota. It is important to note that John is admitted to both State and Federal Courts and the Mdewakanton Sioux Tribal Court. John received his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law and undergraduate degree from University of Nebraska, Omaha. Moreover, although John is solely licensed in Minnesota, if you need assistance outside of Minnesota, you may still want to contact him so that he can make the determination if he might be of assistance.
John is a dedicated and experienced Criminal Defense Advocate. His criminal defense experience started in law school where he interned for the Federal Public Defender’s office for the District of Nebraska. After graduation he worked at the Neighborhood Justice Center, where he handled multiple types of cases for indigent clients. That experience gave him the necessary skills needed to successfully defend his clients in misdemeanor and felony trials in his private practice. John is one of the few private attorneys in the whole state to ever win a federal criminal jury trial. After the Neighborhood Justice Center, he worked with a retired Dakota County Judge. That experience was very beneficial in the representation of his clients, because it gave him the ability to develop contacts though out the whole state of Minnesota, and gain years of experience of learning how negotiate in creative and successful ways for his clients.
The trust he cultivates with clients is the very foundation of his practice and success with clients and community. John provides premium legal services to clients and works continuously to strengthen those relationships.
John does not wait until defendants are formally charged with a crime. Early intervention is key because it gives us a head start on the prosecution — allowing more time to conduct investigations, interview witnesses, and research all legal options. Being proactive in a criminal case can often make the difference between facing misdemeanor or felony charges, or whether or not any charges are filed at all!
John is most enthusiastic about watching movies, reading mysteries, and watching college football.