When to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

Anyone facing assault and battery charges, drug charges, theft charges, homicide charges, fraud, and financial crime charges, and alcohol crime charges should hire an aggressive defense attorney right away. The earlier the defendant brings a defense attorney on board, the better the chance of avoiding a prolonged legal battle that could see the defendant spend time in prison, pay hefty fines, or suffer other stringent consequences.

Defending against criminal charges can be a distressing and emotional process. The unwavering support, representation, and comfort that a defendant gets from a criminal defense attorney from the start to the end of the case are invaluable. The attorney can walk the defendant through the court proceedings for the specific criminal charges he or she is facing.

What is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Ideally, an accused person should have a defense attorney from the time of the arrest. Although this may not be possible, the defendant should strive to get an attorney on board immediately after getting released. The defendant should talk to the attorney before the arraignment to gain a clear understanding of what charges he or she is facing.


An arraignment refers to a court proceeding during which a criminal defendant is informed of the charges he or she is facing. At this stage, the defendant has the option of pleading guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The defense attorney will advise the defendant how he or she should plead and provide representation during the hearing.

The attorney will ask for bail or request the court to release the defendant on his or her recognizance. If the defendant enters a no-contest, plea bargain, or guilty plea, the court will schedule a sentencing date. If the defendant enters a not guilty plea, a pre-trial conference will ensue.


If a solution or plea deal isn’t found at the pre-trial conference, the case will go before an appointed judge or jury. The defense attorney will try to get the case dropped because of limited or lack of evidence. The attorney could negotiate a plea deal in exchange for reduced charges. The defendant could end up with a reduced jail sentence or serve probation rather than jail time.

At Trial

The criminal defense attorney will evaluate the specifics and circumstances of the case. The attorney will look at the police reports, witness statements, and any other piece of evidence. The objective would be to build an evidence-supported defense strategy for the case.

The attorney will speak on the defendant’s behalf during the court hearing. The attorney will introduce witnesses and cross-question the prosecution’s witnesses’ testimonies.

The burden of proof lies on the state. The state must, therefore, prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. The defendant’s attorney will poke holes into the evidence submitted and convince the jury that the prosecutor has failed to meet the burden of proof. The goal is to show the jury that there is no sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of the crime.


If the defendant takes a plea bargain or is convicted of the crime, the defense attorney will try to negotiate for a minimum sentence. If the defendant has to spend time in prison, the attorney will try to persuade the judge that probation or any other imprisonment alternative would be the best way to serve justice.

Charges that Require a Criminal Defense Attorney

Assault and Battery Charges

These charges attract serious consequences. A person facing assault and battery charges should have an aggressive attorney on his or her side from the start. Some defenses available to these charges include self-defense, defense of property and/or others, and voluntary consent.

Drug Charges

A drug conviction in Minnesota comes with harsh penalties. It also carries with it a plethora of hidden consequences, including difficulty securing a job, deportation, loss of driver’s license, and loss of a professional license. Dealing with drug charges will require the knowledge, resources, and skill sets of a defense attorney.

Theft Charges

An attorney can present evidence to show that the defendant was the legal owner of the property in question. The attorney can also demonstrate that the defendant didn’t intend to steal by proving that the defendant was intoxicated when he or she committed the crime. Demonstrating that the stolen property or items were returned may also be instrumental in getting theft charges reduced.

Homicide Charges

Homicide refers to the act of one person taking the life of another person, no matter the circumstances. Some homicides are deemed justifiable, like killing a person to stop a serious crime from happening. Other homicides are deemed excusable, such as when someone kills in self-defense. Those that cannot be considered either justifiable or excusable by the relevant criminal code are deemed criminal homicides.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

The criminal defense process in Minnesota constitutes several steps, starting with investigations and culminating with appeals. This process can be long and exhausting. An arrest alone can leave you scared, confused, and overwhelmed with emotions. Making logical decisions in this state can be difficult, especially if it is your first time interacting with the criminal justice system.
The first thing to do after you have been accused of a sex crime in Minneapolis, MN, is to familiarize yourself with the seriousness of the situation. The next thing is to seek legal guidance from a lawyer who has established a practice by successfully defending people facing sex crime accusations. You should also collect and preserve all proof that can help support your defense strategy.
One of the questions people facing a criminal charge ask is: How long does a criminal case take? The timeline of your criminal case in Minnesota will depend on the nature and severity of the alleged crime, the speed of the criminal justice system, the duration of the trial, and whether an appeal will be necessary. Delays at any stage of the criminal justice process may impact how long your criminal case will last. Generally, however, misdemeanor cases may resolve within weeks or months, while felony cases may linger in courts for up to a year.