Minnesota Criminal Process

Being arrested and charged with a crime in Minnesota can be overwhelming. However, having an understanding of the process and hiring the right criminal defense attorney can help you ease your mind and maximize your chances of a good outcome in your case.

Steps in the Minnesota Criminal Process

The criminal process typically involves the following steps:

Notice to Appear in Court or Arrest

In most cases, the Minnesota criminal process will begin when you are arrested and charged with a specific offense. You may be arrested with or without a warrant, depending on the circumstances. Following the arrest, you must have your picture taken and be fingerprinted before being placed in jail.

In other cases, the criminal process may begin when you receive a summons that instructs you to appear in court at a specific time.


Your arraignment is your first court appearance. During this hearing, the court will inform you of your charges and give you an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. The court will also set bail during this hearing so you can be released from jail. Some offenders may be released without bail. However, if the charge is particularly serious or the court believes you may be a danger to yourself or others, you may be required to remain incarcerated until your trial is complete.

Pre-Trial Hearing

If you did not plead guilty to your charge, a pre-trial conference will be scheduled. During this hearing, the court will examine the evidence submitted by both sides to determine what evidence will be admissible. In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer will be able to convince the court to dismiss the charges at this hearing. If the charges are not dismissed, the court will set a date for the trial.

Criminal Trial

Depending on the circumstances, you may be tried for your charge with or without a jury. If your offense is punishable by incarceration, Minnesota law gives you the right to a jury trial if you want one. The criminal trial will include a number of steps, including the selection of the jury, opening statements, presentation of evidence by both sides, closing arguments and the final verdict. If the jury finds you guilty, you will receive your sentence at a later hearing.

Possible Penalties

Minnesota classifies crimes into misdemeanors and felonies, with felonies being the most serious crimes. Misdemeanors are further subdivided into smaller categories, including petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor. Felonies are not divided into smaller categories. Instead, the possible penalties are specific to the charge.

The exact penalties you will face if you are convicted of a crime in Minnesota depend on the type of charge, the discretion of the court and other factors. However, possible penalties include:

  • Petty misdemeanor – maximum fine of $300.
  • Misdemeanor – maximum fine of $1,000 and/or up 90 days in jail.
  • Gross misdemeanor – maximum fine of $3,000 and/or up to one year in jail.

For felony convictions, penalties range considerably and typically include a possible fine and prison sentence. For the most serious felonies, the maximum sentence is life in prison.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested in Minnesota, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact Leone Legal, PA today to schedule a consultation or learn more about how we can help.

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