Minnesota Criminal Process

Twin Cities Area Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer

When a person is arrested and charged with a criminal offense, he or she likely is worried about the steps of the process. Most people who become involved in the criminal justice system after accusations of a criminal offense are unaware of how their case might be handled. No matter the charge, having an attorney by your side can be beneficial.

The right to legal counsel is one of the foundations of the legal system in the United States. In most situations, a person facing criminal charges can have an attorney represent them through the case. This means having knowledgeable representation from the time of the arrest through the conclusion of your case.

Apple Valley Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime in Minnesota, contact Apple Valley criminal defense lawyer James Blumberg. As a former prosecutor, Blumberg has extensive knowledge of the criminal process and years of experience handling cases on both sides of the law. Blumberg knows how to help his clients get favorable results in their cases.

Call (952) 431-7758 today to schedule a free consultation with James Blumberg Law. The firm works with clients throughout Dakota County, including Burnsville, Eagan, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Mendota Heights and Rosemount, as well as anywhere in the Twin Cities region, including Hennepin County, Ramsey County and Anoka County.

Information About Minnesota Criminal Process

Back to top

Arrest or Notice to Appear in Court

The Minnesota criminal process generally begins when a person is arrested and charged with an offense. An arrest could be made with a warrant issued by a judge or without a warrant. After the arrest, the person would be fingerprinted, have his or her mug shot taken and booked into the jail.

Minnesota law states that a person who is arrested must be brought before the nearest available judge in the county where the alleged offense occurred. This must be done without unnecessary delay and not more than 36 hours after the arrest. In misdemeanor cases, if a person is not brought before a judge within 36 hours, he or she could be released with a citation.

Other times, the process can begin if a person is issued a summons, which essentially states a time and place in which a person must appear before the court to answer a complaint.  The summons, according to Rule 3 of the Criminal Procedure, also must include a copy of the complaint.

If a person is issued a summons that instructs him or her to appear in court and he or she does not show up, the judge may issue a bench warrant for his or her arrest. This is often called a “failure to appear.”

Back to top

First Appearance

The purpose of the first appearance in Minnesota, according to Rule 5 of the Criminal Procedure, is for the court to inform the defendant of his or her charges, the right to counsel and the opportunity to enter a plea. The court must ensure the person has a copy of the complaint or citation.

The court also must notify the defendant of his or her rights, including the following:

  • The right to remain silent and not to submit to interrogation
  • Anything the defendant says may be used against them in subsequent proceedings
  • The right to counsel in all proceedings, including police lineups
  • The right to communicate with defense counsel
  • The right to a jury trial or a trial to the court

Additionally, during this process, the court must set bail and establish other conditions of release. If the court believes the person causes a danger to anyone, he or she could be held in jail. If the person is released, other conditions could be imposed, such as create restrictions on travel or place the defendant under supervision.

Back to top

Omnibus Hearing in Minnesota

If a defendant has not pled guilty to a felony or gross misdemeanor offense, an omnibus hearing must be held.  The main purpose of the hearing, also called a pretrial hearing, is to examine the evidence offered by the prosecution and the defense and determine the admissibility of the evidence.

A party may cross-examine any witness called by any other party during the hearing. This means the defendant and his or her attorney can challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution. If the defense lawyer can argue the prosecution does not have enough evidence to support its case, the charges could be dismissed.

During the hearing, the court must determine whether probable cause exists to believe an offense has been committed and that the defendant is the person who committed it, according to Rule 11 of the Criminal Procedure. The court may find probable cause on the face of the complaint or the entire record, including reliable hearsay.

The omnibus hearing could include a pretrial conference to determine whether the case can be resolved before trial. However, if the defendant chooses to enter a plea, he or she could do so at the hearing. If the defendant enters a plea other than guilty, a trial date must be set.

A defendant must be tried as soon as possible after a plea other than guilty has been entered. If either party demands, the trial must start within 60 days of the demand unless the court finds good cause for a later trial date. The time period begins on the date of the plea other than guilty.

Back to top

Criminal Trial

Once a date has been established for a trial, the defendant could face a trial by jury or a trial without a jury. A defendant has a right to a jury trial for any offense punishable by incarceration, which must be in the district court. Any misdemeanor offense not punishable by incarceration must be tried by the court.

During a jury trial, the defendant must be present for every step of the process, including:

  • Arraignment
  • Plea
  • Jury selection
  • Opening statements
  • Presentation of evidence
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury instructions
  • Any jury questions dealing with evidence or law
  • The verdict
  • The sentencing

The jury’s verdict must be unanimous in all cases. However, the defendant court request the jury may render a verdict on the concurrence of a specified number of jurors fewer than that required by law. This must be approved by the court. If a person is found guilty, he or she will be sentenced during a subsequent hearing.

In a case without a jury, the court will make a finding of whether the person is guilty or not guilty or determine if the applicable pleas have been made, such as not guilty by reason of insanity. This must be done within seven days of the completion of the trial, according to Rule 26 of the Criminal Procedure.

Back to top

Additional Resources

Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure — The Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure outline how the Minnesota criminal process works in various situations, including misdemeanor and felony charges.

Dakota County District Court Traffic and Misdemeanor Court – The First District of the Minnesota Judicial Branch handles traffic and misdemeanor offenses in Dakota County. Learn more about the process for petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor traffic offenses.

Back to top

James Blumberg Law – A Criminal Process Lawyer in Dakota County

If you have been charged with a crime, you do not have to tackle the criminal justice system alone. Contact Dakota County criminal defense attorney James Blumberg at (952) 431-7758 to begin building a strong defense against the accusations. Your future is important, and he can use his knowledge and experience on both sides of the law to help you protect it.

James Blumberg Law accepts clients in Dakota County and other surrounding communities including Rice County, Carver County, Scott County, Sibley County, Dodge County, Steele County, and Sibley County.