Minneapolis Criminal Defense Law FAQ’s

The Minneapolis criminal defense law firm of Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys is dedicated to protecting clients’ legal rights and vigorously defending them against criminal charges. We pride ourselves keeping our clients informed of their legal rights and the progress of their case. We take the time to adequately explain the legal and factual issues involved with a case so that our clients can make informed decisions.

If you are facing Minnesota criminal charges, contact the Minneapolis criminal defense law firm of Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys at (952) 913-1421 today to schedule a free consultation. In the meantime, below are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

Minneapolis Criminal Defense Lawyers Barry Edwards and Max A. Keller

What should I do if I am arrested?

If you are arrested, it is very important that you immediately speak with an attorney. Do not make a statement to the police or answer their questions without an attorney present. At Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys, we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to advise clients following an arrest. Contact our office today at (952) 913-1421 to schedule a free consultation.

What is the difference between a felony and misdemeanor?

A felony typically involves more serious charges, with incarceration of more than one year. Misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors are punishable with jail terms of less than one year. Felony convictions will also impact your life for years to come by barring you from holding certain jobs, voting, and carrying a weapon.

What constitutional rights do I have if I am charged with a crime?

The Constitution affords defendants a number of rights, including:

  • Protection from illegal searches and seizures (4th Amendment)
  • Right to remain silent, receive Miranda warnings at the time of arrest, and protection against double jeopardy (5th Amendment)
  • Right to a speedy trial, the right to an impartial jury, the right to assistance of counsel, the right to cross-examine witnesses at trial, the right to be informed of the charges and potential punishments, and the right to compel witnesses to appear in court (6th Amendment)
  • Prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment (8th Amendment)
  • Various due process rights (14th Amendment)

If I lost my license due to a DWI conviction, is there anything I can do to get my license back?

In most cases, you must challenge the revocation of your driver’s license within 30 days from the date of your arrest by filing an “Implied Consent Petition” with the court administrator’s office and paying the filing fee. Hiring an experienced Minnesota DWI defense attorney like those at Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys can be incredibly helpful to getting your license back.

If I lost my driver’s license due to a DWI conviction, how do I get a work permit or limited license?

In order to get a work permit, you must wait the specified mandatory waiting period, which varies from 15 days for most first-time offenders (unless you test .20 or more, in which case it is one year) to up to one year, depending on: (1) whether you took the test or refused; (2) whether you tested .16 or more; and (3) the number of prior DWI’s you have. Because of the growing complexity of DWI law, including defenses and penalties, it is highly recommended that you hire an experienced Minnesota DWI defense attorney like Max A. Keller to help you navigate DWI system so that you can obtain a work permit or license reinstatement as soon as possible.

Is there any way my DWI arrest or conviction could be overturned?

A defendant’s conviction may be overturned if his or her constitutional rights were violated during arrest, during questioning, at trial, or at any other phase of the criminal proceeding. For instance, the U.S. Supreme Court held in 2010 in the case of Padilla v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court ruled that a defendant’s right a competent attorney requires that an attorney explain to his or her client the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. Without such an explanation, a defendant’s conviction may be thrown out. Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys has helped numerous clients have their criminal convictions overturned if they did not receive the Padilla summary from their previous attorney.

Many criminal defense attorneys are incapable of appealing a conviction, and will pass off a case if an appeal is necessary. Minnesota criminal defense and appeals attorney Max A. Keller has handled a number of criminal appeals and has considerable knowledge of the appellate process given his previous experiencing working for three judges in the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Minnesota criminal appeals lawyer Max A. Keller is committed to protecting his clients’ constitutional rights. He has successfully had convictions overturned in appeals taken to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals. In fact, Mr. Keller was the first Minnesota criminal defense attorney to win a felony DWI case before the Minnesota Supreme Court.

How soon can I get a work permit or limited license?

In order to get a work permit, you need to wait a specified mandatory waiting period in some cases. Because of the new Ignition Interlock law, many drivers are no longer eligible for a work permit at all. The mandatory waiting period to get a work permit varies from 15 days for most first-time offenders (unless you test .16 or more, in which case you are not eligible for a work permit) to up to one year (i.e. no limited at all), depending on: (1) whether you took the test or refused; (2) whether you tested .16 or more; and (3) the number of prior DWI’s you have. Because of the growing complexity of DWI law, including defenses and penalties, I recommend that you hire an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney like me to help you navigate the maze of “the system.” I will help you get your work permit or go on Ignition Interlock or get a full license back as soon as possible. You will also need to:

  1. take the written test on Chapters 7 and 8 of the driving manual which deal with the effects of alcohol and drugs and the regulations concerning DWI, etc.,
  2. make an application for a new driver’s license, and
  3.  pay the reinstatement fee of $680. If, HOWEVER, you have filed an implied consent petition to challenge the revocation of your driver’s license, then you should not be required to pay the $680 fee to get a work permit, unless your license revocation is upheld (“sustained”) in court.

I recommend that all drivers who want to fight their criminal DWI charge also file an implied consent petition to challenge their driver’s license revocation, which is a separate civil case. Many drivers can win their implied consent case based on cops not showing up for trial, technical issues such as missing or improperly filled out paperwork, misleading advice from police to drivers, insufficient time to contact an attorney when under arrest, denial of the right to a second test, etc. Winning your civil implied consent license revocation case will then give you leverage over the prosecutor in the criminal DWI case.

What are the common legal challenges raised in drug cases?

The most common challenges in drug cases relate to how the evidence was obtained. If the police violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights or Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, the court will suppress the drugs or statements as being unlawfully obtained. Without this evidence, the prosecution may not be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the case may be dismissed as a result.

How is drug court different from regular criminal court?

Drug courts combine criminal justice and medical treatment models to deal with drug crimes. They recognize that incarceration may not be the most effective method for breaking the cycle of drug addiction and crime, especially for first-time and low-level offenders. Drug courts emphasize a cooperative approach between the prosecutor, defendant and court, and they favor rehabilitation over jail. Successful completion of drug court programs can result in reduced charges or sentences, or dismissal of charges altogether.

What is the difference between civil and criminal forfeiture?

Forfeiture is the government seizure of property connected to criminal activity. In criminal forfeiture, the government takes property after obtaining a conviction, as part of the defendant’s sentence. In civil forfeiture, a criminal charge or conviction is not needed; the government only needs to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was used to facilitate a crime. In theory, criminal forfeiture is a punishment, while civil forfeiture is remedial. Most forfeiture actions are civil.

What does a grand jury do in a drug case?

A grand jury is a group of people called together by the prosecutor to gather and review information about suspected criminal activity. After listening to witness testimony and examining evidence, the grand jury decides whether there is enough evidence to issue an indictment charging the defendant with drug crimes. Grand juries are used in the federal system and most states. At the federal level and in some states, grand juries must be used for charging felony drug crimes; in some states, they may be used but do not have to be.

If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?

Even if you plan to plead guilty to the drug crime with which you are charged, getting the advice of experienced counsel offers you the best chance to minimize your sentence and maximize your opportunities to move ahead toward a brighter future. Criminal defense attorneys play an important role in the criminal justice system by equalizing the balance of power between the defendant and the prosecution and by ensuring that the constitutional rights guaranteed to all criminal defendants are protected.

What are controlled substances “Schedules”?

The Federal Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs into five categories, or “Schedules,” based on their potential for dependency and abuse as compared with their therapeutic value. Schedule I controlled substances have the highest potential for dependency with no accepted medical use, while Schedule V drugs have a low potential for dependency and accepted medical uses. The most severe penalties for illegal possession, sale or manufacture of controlled substances involve those listed in Schedule I. Most, if not all, states have drug laws that mirror the Controlled Substances Act.

What are sentencing guidelines?

Federal and state sentencing guidelines are standards used by the court to determine the punishment for a convicted individual. They have been adopted in an effort to increase consistency in sentencing. The length of a sentence is based on two factors: the severity of the crime and the defendant’s prior criminal history. The guidelines specify a minimum and maximum sentence the court can order. In certain circumstances, the judge may depart from the specified range.

What is the difference between parole and probation?

Parole and probation are employed in the punishment phase of the criminal justice process. Parole comes into play after a person has been imprisoned and is released subject to supervision by an officer of the court. Probation refers to a criminal sentence separate and distinct from incarceration. Probation is a common sentence imposed for first-time offenders or for less serious charges. It typically involves releasing the convicted offender into the community subject to certain terms and conditions. Both parole and probation may include conditions like drug treatment, drug testing and status appearances before the court.