Carson J. Heefner
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.