Rebecca Pirius


Rebecca Pirius is a Legal Editor at Nolo specializing in criminal law. She has worked in the area of criminal law since 2003, most recently as a senior policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). For 12 years, Rebecca was a legislative analyst and an attorney in the Minnesota House of Representatives, providing nonpartisan legal research and drafting services to the 134 members. Right out of law school, she clerked for a judge in Hennepin County (Minneapolis, Minnesota). Rebecca earned her J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Minnesota, where she graduated magna cum laude and served as a law review member. She is a member of the Minnesota State Bar.

Nolo. In 2017, Rebecca began freelancing with Nolo and writing articles on criminal law, traffic laws, and impaired driving. She started full time at Nolo in 2019 as a Legal Editor covering criminal law. She writes primarily for and

Prior career. Working at the Minnesota Legislature and NCSL, Rebecca conducted extensive research and analysis of laws and legislation on criminal law, public safety, corrections, and courts. Her roles required her to break down complex legal concepts for a broad audience, including policymakers and constituents, and allowed her to work with both sides of the political aisle. At NCSL, her policy work took her around the country to work with local and state policymakers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, former offenders, young adult offenders, crime victims, and criminal justice experts. 

Legal writing and publications. At the Minnesota Legislature, Rebecca authored and co-authored several publications outlining and explaining Minnesota laws on traffic citations, public defenders, jury service, domestic abuse, and more. She continued her criminal law writing at NCSL, where she authored blogs and publications on criminal records, young adults in the justice system, and bail. Her publications included Put Up or Stay Put (State Legislatures Magazine), a legislative primer on Young Adults in the Justice System, and a policy brief on Barriers to Work for those with criminal records.

Articles By Rebecca Pirius

Ohio Becomes 24th State to Ban Juvenile Life Without Parole Sentences
January 9, 2021. Nearly half the states now ban sentencing children younger than 18 to a life behind bars with no possibility of release.
Policing and Civil Unrest
In times of civil unrest, the immediate threat to public safety requires government action.
Impact of Coronavirus Outbreak on Jails
Approximately 10.5 million people cycle through local jails every year—raising concerns about the spread of Coronavirus and how to best protect inmates, staff, and communities. How is the jail system responding?
Impact of Coronavirus Outbreak on Prisons
State and federal prisons hold nearly 1.5 million inmates, plus staff, inside their walls—where general security measures make social distancing and other preventive measures nearly impossible. So how is the prison system responding?
Why Do Judges Hand out Multiple Life Sentences?
It seems nonsensical: Why sentence a defendant to more than one “life” sentence? Life is, after all, life.
Suing the Police for Excessive Force
Excessive force by the police during an arrest violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
What Is Qualified Immunity?
Qualified immunity shields public officials from civil liability for civil rights violations as long as the right wasn't "clearly established."
Can I Vote If I Have a Felony Conviction?
Don’t assume that having a felony conviction means you’ve lost your right to vote forever. Learn more about the various state laws and find resources on restoring your right to vote.
How Is the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impacting Criminal Cases?
Even during emergencies, courts must generally continue their operation to some extent. In addition to pending cases, courts need to hear legal issues that arise as part of the public health emergency.
Resources for Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Victims During COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place Orders
Shelter-in-place, lockdown, and isolation orders raise fears and concerns for victims of domestic violence and child abuse—where the greatest danger is often in the home.