What happens when I am charged with a crime?

lawyer-450205_640 Posted: November 5, 2015 Welcome to the first installment of the Sieben Edmunds PLLC Criminal Defense Blog Series! This blog post will focus on what happens in a typical criminal case. Types of Offenses The process that occurs after being charged with a crime can vary depending on the nature and severity of the offense. In Minnesota, you can be charged with a petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony. A full description of the various offenses can be found in Minnesota Statute 609.02.
  • Petty Misdemeanor
    • Not a crime
    • No possibility of incarceration
    • Fine of up to $300
    • Examples: speeding tickets, running a red light, possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Misdemeanor
    • Punishable by up to 90 days in jail, $1,000 fine, or both
    • Examples: Theft valued at less than $500, 4th Degree DWI, 5th Degree Assault
  • Gross Misdemeanor
    • Punishable by up to one year in jail, $3,000 fine, or both
    • Examples: 2nd & 3rd Degree DWI, Theft valued at between $500 and $1,000, Assault on a Peace Officer, Repeat Assault offenses
  • Felony
    • The most serious offense
    • Punishable by a year and a day up to life in prison
    • Examples: Fourth DWI in ten years, most Criminal Sexual Conduct offenses, Theft valued at over $1,000
I was charged with a crime. What happens next? If law enforcement has probable cause to believe that a crime was committed, then you will either be arrested or released with a citation. Instead of an arrest or a citation, you may receive a summons and complaint that explains what you are being charged with and provides you with a court date. If you fail to appear for court, then a warrant for your arrest will be issued. If a defendant is in custody, then the next step in the process is the Bail Hearing. This hearing is to determine what conditions must be met before release. Sometimes the court will release you on your own recognizance - meaning that you are released on your promise to return to court. Other times a bail amount and other conditions are set before you can be released. Bail and conditions are based on the nature and severity of the crime. A judge will also consider your ties to the community, criminal history, character, community safety, and so on. The next hearing is called an Arraignment or First Appearance. At this hearing the defendant is informed of the charge(s) and important constitutional rights. A plea may be entered at this hearing for misdemeanor offenses. A Defendant charged with a gross misdemeanor or felony must wait until the next hearing to enter a plea. Defendants should enter a not guilty plea and retain an attorney to demand and review the evidence. The next court hearing in the process is a Pre-trial Conference or Omnibus Hearing. By this time, all the evidence that could be used against you should have been produced by the state. A skilled attorney can review the evidence to determine whether there are any probable cause, evidentiary, or constitutional issues. Arguing about those issues sometimes takes place at this stage depending on the type of hearing. A pre-trial or omnibus hearing is also an opportunity to discuss possible settlement with the prosecutor. If no settlement is reached, then a trial date is set. At Trial, the defendant will have an opportunity to hold the state to its burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A judge or jury will determine whether you are guilty or not guilty based on evidence, testimony, and opening/closing statements. If found not guilty, then the criminal process ends. If you are found guilty, then the next step is Sentencing. Depending on the crime, sentencing occurs immediately after being found guilty or can occur at a later date. At this hearing, the judge imposes the consequences for your crime. This could include jail time, fines, probation, and other conditions depending on type of offense. Certain crimes also have a separate civil component. An example of this is when you are charged with a DWI. In the DWI context, one could have separate civil hearings related to driver’s license revocation and vehicle forfeiture. Why should you retain an attorney from Sieben Edmunds PLLC for your criminal case? Very important constitutional rights are at stake. An attorney from Sieben Edmunds PLLC will advise you of all your rights and ensure that we proceed with your criminal case in a strategic manner. Not only will we review all the evidence that could potentially be used against you, we will also hold the state to its burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side through this complicated process is key to reaching a favorable resolution to your case. Contact the attorneys at Sieben Edmunds PLLC at 651-994-6744 for more information. Stay tuned for the next installment in our criminal defense blog series! You can view our DWI Blog Series here.