Willmar and Central Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers – Misdemeanors, Felonies
Being charged with a crime is a very serious and complicated process and should not be taken lightly. Protect your rights and your future by hiring our firm to be your legal representative and work for the results that you deserve. When law enforcement and the state are working against you, we will stand with you.
Whether you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the result of your case will have serious implications beyond the courtroom. With your priorities at the forefront, we will give your case the attention and dedication that it needs. We provide competent, aggressive and affordable services with a free consultation to get you started. Do no delay in calling as time is of the essence in your case and you may risk missing important deadlines.
What happens when you are charged with a crime?
In most cases, when you are charged with a crime you are faced with a situation where you do not know what to expect. In every criminal case, certain rights attach which are guaranteed by our State Constitution and our U.S. Constitution. Cases also follow a set procedure comprised of court appearances which may ultimately end with a trial. The procedures typically depend upon the severity of the crime.
Collateral Consequences to Criminal Activity
While crimes typically carry with them penalties that can be, at least somewhat, discernable at the outset of a case, they also carry with them collateral consequences that are often times more serious or inconvenient than the criminal penalty. Some of these consequences may involve drivers license suspension or revocation, suspension or cancellation of constitutional or civil rights such as the right to vote or carry or own firearms, cancellation or suspension of government related benefits, and even deportation. Collateral consequences typically depend on the severity of the crime, however, even seemingly minor crimes or innocent-type activity that is technically criminal may have serious consequences that do not involve the criminal court. It is always wise to analyze these issues as soon as charges are filed or a citation is issued.
There are four levels of offenses in Minnesota. They are:
1) Petty Misdemeanors.
Petty Misdemeanors are usually violations of law such as minor traffic offenses or parking tickets issued by a city. These are offenses which are payable by fines of up to $300. It is always advisable to research the offense before entering a plea or paying a fine. Some pleas to petty misdemeanors can have surprising collateral consequences on your driver’s license as well as other consequences.
Misdemeanors are punishable by 90 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Misdemeanors cover a wide range of criminal conduct including most first time DWIs (Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired)/DUIs (Driving Under the Influence) and more serious traffic incidents, most domestic assaults, and other minor assaults. Misdemeanors are crimes in Minnesota and can, and do, carry some serious consequences with them including up to two years probation, chemical use assessments, drivers license suspension and revocations, as well as suspension of other government related privileges such as suspension or revocation of hunting rights or your rights to carry or own a firearm.
3) Gross Misdemeanors
Gross Misdemeanors are punishable by 1 year in jail and fines of up to $3,000. They cover conduct such as 2 or 3 DWIs/DUIs in 10 years, first time DWIs/DUIs where a test indicated a blood alcohol content over .20, DUI test refusal, some “white collar” crimes, 5th degree criminal sexual conduct and some mid-level theft cases.
Felonies are, of course, the most serious crimes. Felonies are any crimes punishable by more than 1 year in jail or prison. Felonies include most serious theft crimes, most drug crimes, robbery, aggravated assault, and murder. Felonies also often carry with them severe collateral consequences such as a loss of civil rights, ineligibility for certain kinds of jobs and professions, and usually involve long probationary terms in addition to executed jail.
What is the Procedure?
Ordinarily, criminal cases begin with an arrest, a police issued citation, or a complaint filed by the prosecutorial authority where the alleged crime was committed. It is very important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible following the issuance of a citation or complaint. For example, in a DUI case, the passage of too much time can result in a loss of your right to challenge your license revocation or forfeiture of vehicle.
The citation or complaint is followed by a first appearance in Court where you are advised of your rights and the nature of the charges the Government is bringing against you. You are entitled to have an attorney represent you at the First Appearance. At the First Appearance, the Court may also set pre-trial conditions of your release.
The First Appearance is often followed by a hearing called an “omnibus”, “evidentiary”, or “pre-trial”. During these hearings, your Attorney may move the Court to dismiss the state’s complaint or move to suppress evidence.
The procedure ultimately may end in a trial to the Court or to the Jury. For misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, you have the right to try your case to a jury of six persons who have to unanimously agree on your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Each jurisdiction employs a slightly different procedure. It is important that you hire an Attorney who is knowledgeable about the jurisdiction where the charges are filed. In its 58 year history, the law firm of Johnson, Moody, Schmidt, and Kleinhuizen have handled hundreds of criminal cases involving all types of criminal charges. Call us today.