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

Is Incest a Crime?
Most countries, including the United States, make incest a crime. Learn how the laws define incest and the penalties for a conviction.
Sealing Juvenile Court Records
Former juvenile offenders may be able to get a fresh start of sorts by filing a petition in court seeking expungement or sealing of their juvenile records.
Is Violating an Executive Order a Crime?
Executive orders are the law of the land, just like statutes. Violating them can result in civil or criminal penalties.
Miranda Rights: What Happens If the Police Don't Read You Your Rights
Many people believe that if they are arrested and not "read their rights," they can escape punishment. Not true. But if the police fail to read a suspect their rights, the prosecutor can't use anything the suspect says as evidence against the suspect at trial.
How Innocent Defendants Handle Criminal Charges
Even the most well-intentioned prosecutors file charges against innocent suspects occasionally. Other than going to trial, how can innocent defendants avoid trial, a guilty plea, or verdict?
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.
What Does Pleading No Contest Mean?
A nolo contendere plea—also called a no contest plea—is a lot like a guilty plea; it carries the same fundamental consequences but not the official admission of guilt.
Conditions of Parole
Parole is an early release from prison that's conditioned on abiding by parole conditions. Not following the rules can land a parolee back behind bars.
Timely Arrest: How Long the Police Have to Arrest Someone
Police officers are generally free to determine when to arrest someone; they need freedom to investigate the crime and collect evidence.
Emergency Powers and Citizen Rights
Emergency 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.