Need for interpreters in courtrooms increasing in Minnesota

As the amount of immigrants to the United States has increased since 2006, so too has the need for courtroom translators for defendants that do not speak English as a first language. In 2006, there were 5,177 hearings in Minnesota that required an interpreter. In 2010, there were 30,009 – many of them criminal defense hearings. According to one district judge, an unwitting admission of guilt due to a language barrier can send innocent people to jail, possibly opening the door for deportation.

A survey performed in 2010 found that, in the state of Minnesota alone, there were over 120 languages spoken, including sign language. Additionally, the survey found that one out of ten people living in Minnesota resided in a home where English was not spoken.

Last year, $1.9 million in taxpayer money was spent to supply courts with interpreters in Minnesota, but many judges estimate that the cost of delays in proceedings still occurs while an interpreter is found – and the bill would have been much higher without the interpreters courts had available. To further cut costs, counties regularly develop shared programs to employ full time interpreters across the state or contract agencies for their interpreting services.

While translators for languages like Spanish will always be in high demand throughout the country, Minnesota has also experienced a marked increase in the need for translators of languages like Hmong and Somali. Currently, 1,300 interpreters translating 100 different languages are employed by the Minnesota justice system.

Source: Star Tribune, “Judge: Justice must come in many languages,” Joy Powell, Sept. 24, 2011

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

Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.
Minnesota recently passed a public safety bill that brings sweeping changes to the state’s juvenile justice system. While minors sometimes run afoul of the law, the juvenile justice system seeks to account for the differences between children and adults. Therefore, while the penalties for adults convicted of crimes focus on punishment, those for juveniles are aimed at diversion and restorative practices.