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

Emergency Powers and Citizen Rights During the Coronavirus Public Health Crisis
Emergency or police powers exist so state and local governments can act quickly to protect their citizens. Restrictions on personal liberties must be reasonable and necessary and made in good faith for the preservation of public health, safety, or order.
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.
How Is the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impacting Criminal Cases?
Even during emergencies, courts must generally continue their operation to some extent. Courts worked to protect criminal defendants' constitutional rights, but defendants still faced hardship.
Virtual Criminal Court Appearances in the Time of the Coronavirus
In the midst of the pandemic, courts are embracing videoconferencing and other remote appearance tools. This development could represent a turning point for the justice system.
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?
Suing the Police for Excessive Force
Excessive force by the police during an arrest violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But what are the chances a victim who brings a civil lawsuit will win damages?
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."
Do the Police Need a Warrant to Track You With Your Cellphone?
Cellphones, smartphones, smart devices, and even our vehicles track and store amazing amounts of data on our movements and whereabouts. Is this information protected by the Fourth Amendment? Well, legally speaking, it depends.
Laws Banning Gun Possession After a Criminal Conviction
Can someone possess a gun after a criminal conviction? Learn about federal and state laws that ban firearm possession after a conviction.
What Happens at a First Appearance in Florida?
In Florida, if the authorities arrest and hold a suspect in custody, they must bring them to court within 24 hours of the arrest for a first appearance.