Frequently Asked Questions about Criminal Defense

Being charged with a crime is serious business and it should be taken seriously. Do not plead guilty in an effort to “get it over with.” This strategy can lead to more severe consequences than you should get. Even if you ultimately do want to plead guilty, it is important that a lawyer is there to tell you if your punishment is fair. Depending on the crime you have been accused of, substantial jail time could be a penalty, as well as fines, asset forfeiture, and lifelong personal consequences. Pleading guilty without knowing the possible sentence could leave you in a position that you had never thought possible.

If you have been accused of a crime, the state of Minnesota has unlimited resources to prosecute you. They have access to a team of prosecutors, forensic scientists, law enforcement officers, crime scene technicians, and a variety of other professionals to convict you. When you hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer, you are presented with the opportunity to fight any evidence against you. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help guide you through what can be a complex and confusing legal system. With an attorney by your side, the criminal justice system can be easier to navigate.

It is important that you hire a lawyer as soon as possible. The moment you are arrested or are under investigation for a crime, you need to make the call. The criminal trial lawyers at Sieben Edmunds can help you decide if it is important to get an attorney involved. Whether it is 2 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon, make sure to call an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to guarantee results. As a matter of fact, it is against the Minnesota bar rules to guarantee results to a client. What an experienced criminal defense lawyer does is provide opinions and implement strategy that can lead to a more favorable outcome. You can, however, count on the attorneys at Sieben Edmunds Miller working hard for you to achieve the best results.

Whether it is DWI / DUI or another crime, do not say anything until you have spoken to an attorney. Anything that you say can be used against you in court. This is especially so if you have had your Miranda Rights read to you. You are warned that anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. The first thing you want to do is call your attorney and receive guidance before you speak to a law enforcement officer or a prosecutor about the crime you are accused of. It is your right to tell law enforcement that you do not want to say anything until you speak with your attorney, and it is important that you exercise that right.

Please visit the following link to see a chart outlining possible punishments for the different levels of DWI charges.

If the state seized your vehicle due to a DWI or DUI, they will give you a document entitled “notice of intent to forfeit vehicle pursuant to Minn. Stat. 169A.20.” If you wish to prevent the forfeiture, you must file a petition for judicial review of the forfeiture within 30 days of this notice.
If your vehicle was seized for a reason other than a DWI or DUI, it was most likely done under Minnesota Statute 609.5314. This statute is generally used by the state when they wish to forfeit your vehicle as a result of a drug or firearm violation. If you wish to prevent the forfeiture of your vehicle as a result of this statute, you must file a petition for judicial review within 60 days of receiving notice of the state’s intent to forfeit the vehicle.

Yes, it is possible for a person to get whiskey plates after one DWI if their Blood Alcohol Concentration is greater than 0.16, or if a DWI arrest happens with a child in the vehicle. Another reason one may get whiskey plates is if a person receives two or more DWI’s or License Revocations within a ten year period.

Minnesota law requires a driver convicted of a third DWI within a 10 year period to submit to long-term monitoring so long as there is stayed jail time and a probationary period. If you are sentenced to long-term monitoring, you will be required to participate in an electronic alcohol monitoring program for a minimum of thirty consecutive days during each year of probation. If, for instance, you are sentenced to five years of probation, you must have an electronic alcohol monitor every year for those five years that you are on probation. Long-term monitoring is a requirement that is in place in addition to any jail time or fines that a court imposes as part of the sentence for your Minnesota DWI or DUI.

Long-term monitoring is available in a number of ways, depending on the Minnesota County and their resources. One method is an alcohol monitoring system which requires the person to blow into a breath testing machine three (3) times a day at scheduled times. Another method is the SCRAM bracelet, which is an ankle bracelet that vibrates repeatedly throughout the day while measuring blood alcohol concentration. The SCRAM bracelet has to be brought to a probation department for downloading, usually once a week. Other methods of long-term monitoring include random urinalysis and direct face to face meetings with probation officers during the period of long-term monitoring each year.

Jail time varies for each crime by level of offense. Below is a guideline that the Minnesota Court Systems follow:
• A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or up to a $1,000.00 fine.
• A gross misdemeanor is classified as those crimes that are punishable by up to a year in jail and/or up to a $3,000.00 fine.
• A felony offense is the most serious offense in Minnesota. All felonies are punishable by over one year of imprisonment. However, the maximum fines and imprisonment lengths for felonies depend on the alleged conduct.

Assault is a crime of violence against another person. The crime is committed by a person who either:
• Demonstrates intent to cause fear in another person of immediate bodily harm or death, OR
• Intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm upon another.
Certain circumstances which can enhance, or increase, the severity of an assault charge include:
• Causing substantial or great bodily harm,
• Involvement of a weapon,
• Assault committed because of bias or prejudice,
• A victim who was a law enforcement officer, and
• A victim who was vulnerable due to being a minor, disabled, or being elderly.

Domestic assault is an assault committed against a family or household member. A first offense is misdemeanor, the second a gross misdemeanor, and any subsequent convictions are felonies carrying significantly greater penalties. However, domestic assault committed by strangulation is a felony on the first offense.
• Unlike most assault cases, domestic assault is an enhanceable offense which could mean additional consequences which you need to discuss with your lawyer.

Under Minnesota law, sex crimes include any act involving rape, date rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, child molestation, statutory rape, internet sex crimes, prostitution, possession of child pornography, and child enticement. Minnesota statutes define these sex crimes by degree from 5th degree – a gross misdemeanor – to 1st degree – a felony. Factors used to determine the severity of the crime include, but are not limited to:
• sexual penetration vs. sexual contact
• age difference and relationship between those involved
• use of force or coercion
• whether or not weapons were involved
• degree of physical personal injury suffered by the victim

Sexual conduct crimes vary a great deal from case to case, and can result in sentences including steep fines, significant jail or prison time, community service, counseling, probation, restitution, and registration on the sex offender registry. In addition to severe criminal punishment, these charges often come with collateral consequences that can affect immigration status, right to possess firearms, and employment issues.

Normally a court appearance is scheduled far enough in advance where it won’t be a conflict. However, in the event there is a conflict, you can ask the court to grant you a continuance. If a continuance is granted, your court date will be moved to a more convenient date. Be aware though, once a continuance is granted, the court does not like to grant many more. Be conscious and aware of court dates and do your best to be there when asked. Not showing up to a scheduled court date could result in a warrant for your arrest.

When heading to court, it is a good idea to think of it as an important event. Dress as if you are heading to a big job interview where you want to make a good impression on the person you’re meeting with. While it’s not rocket science, here are some things to remember:
• Dress conservatively
• You do not need to wear a suit or tie but it can’t hurt.
• Dress well for EVERY court appearance, not just your first.
Remember that the judge has important decisions to make that could affect the rest of your life and you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Frequently Asked Questions