Criminal Defense

MN Criminal Court Process - What You Should Know

Many of the folks who come in for consultations are scared and completely unfamiliar with the criminal process in Minnesota. They are worried about how quickly things will occur, whether they will go to jail (and if so how soon), how much talking they will have to do in court, and whether they need an attorney to defend their rights. Understanding the procedure in a criminal defense case can help ease worries and also help your attorney defend your rights under Minnesota Law. The procedure differs somewhat depending on the offense and how serious it is. It is important to understand that the language describing various hearings can differ considerably from county to county in MN.

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Bail, Bond, & Reform in Minnesota

MN Bail Reform & Why You Need an Attorney If Charged with a Crime

The Court often makes decisions on the fly when it sets bail or bond. A Judge doesn’t know what he/she isn’t told. If the Court is unaware of your ties to the community, employment and/or lack of a criminal history, the Court might set bail or bond that is financially unattainable or difficult for you to pay. Having an attorney who is experienced in criminal defense helps to ensure that the judge will have all the necessary information in order to send you home on your own recognizance or with a minimal bail, if possible.

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Probation Violations

What Happens if I Violate Probation?

When an individual violates probation, the probation agent generally files a probation violation report which starts a court process to address the consequence for the violation. At a probation violation hearing, the probationer is entitled to be represented by counsel and the State is required to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the probationer:

  1. Violated probation
  2. That the violation was willful and intentional
  3. That a sanction is appropriate.
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Probation in Minnesota

What is Probation?

Probation is a generic term that applies to felony, gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor sentences that are not executed. Executed sentences are those require you to serve jail or prison time. Upon completion of that sentence, you are no longer under any court ordered supervision. The Court generally has the option of not executing the sentence, and instead can “stay” a sentence and requiring a term of probation. When the Court stays a sentence, the Court “hangs” a sentence over the probationer’s head. This gives the court the option of ordering some, or all, of the sentence in the event that the defendant fails to abide by the terms of probation. Which will result in a "probation violation". In the event of a probation violation, it is in the defendant best interest to obtain a lawyer to avoid any other charges or to reduce the consequences of said violation.

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Enhancement Domestic Assault & 5th Degree Assault

What is an "Enhancement"

Enhancement (making a crime more serious because of prior convictions) is a confusing subject for many people charged with crimes, especially in the context of 5th Degree Assault and Domestic Assault. Many folks instinctively understand the idea that some charges get more serious if you have prior convictions for the same offense. For example, I’ve never had a client who was particularly confused about why they were charged with a gross misdemeanor or felony Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Almost invariably, clients understood that their prior DWI convictions meant that their current charges were going to be more serious. They also didn’t seem to struggle in other contexts either such as No Proof of Insurance, Orders for Protection, or Harassment Retraining Order Violations.

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Domestic Abuse No Contact Order [DANCO]

DANCO Violation - What You Need to Know

Violating a DANCO is almost always as serious of an offense as the underlying domestic assault charge. Throughout my career, I have handled Domestic Assault cases, in which a DANCO proved to be a major pitfall for many of my clients. In all of the pretrial Domestic Assault cases and most of the probationary Domestic Assault cases, there was an active Domestic Abuse No Contact Order. Minn. Stat. §629.75, a court order prohibiting the defendant from having contact with the alleged victim and, almost invariably this includes, any children who live in the home. This order is frequently issued without any input from the alleged victim and sometimes over their objection. The DANCO remains in place while the charges are pending and continue to remain in place if the defendant is placed on probation. Only the judge can lift a DANCO. The alleged victim cannot “lift” the DANCO even if she or the children want to have contact with the Defendant. 

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