When charged with a crime, a person must go through various steps in the legal process. While misdemeanor cases may last several weeks or months, felony cases may take up to one year to complete.
Legal Process in a Criminal Case
When a person is arrested and charged with a criminal offense in Minnesota, he/she must go through a legal process. Most people who are arrested and charged with a crime are not familiar with how the legal process works, so a Minneapolis criminal lawyer is important to a defendant.
Arrest or Notice to Appear
The first step in the Minnesota criminal process begins with an arrest or notice to appear. An arrest can be made with or without a warrant issued by a judge. After the arrest, the alleged offender is fingerprinted, photographed, and booked into jail. Under Minnesota law, a person must be brought before a judge in the county where the alleged offense occurred within 36 hours after arrest. In misdemeanor cases, a person may be released with a citation, if not brought before a judge within 36 hours.
Rule 5 of the Minnesota Criminal Procedure requires a first appearance, so the court can inform the defendant of his/her charges and rights including:
- The right to remain silent (anything the defendant says may be used against him/her)
- The right to enter a plea
- The right not to submit to interrogation
- The right to counsel in police lineups and all proceedings
- The right to speak with the defense counsel
- The right to a jury trial or court trial
If a defendant has not pled guilty to a gross misdemeanor or felony offense, an omnibus hearing (pretrial hearing) must be held. The main purpose of the hearing is to examine evidence offered by the defense and the prosecution and determine the admissibility of the evidence. During the hearing, parties may cross-examine witnesses and challenge evidence presented by the prosecution.
Once a date is set for a trial, the defendant must be present for all steps in the process. A defendant has the right to a jury trial in district court when an offense is punishable by incarceration. For misdemeanor offenses, the case may be tried by the court without a jury. In a non-jury trial, the court is required to make a finding of guilt or innocence within seven days of the completion of the trial.