Understanding the Court Process / What to Expect at the Following Hearings

  • What is an Arraignment / First Appearance

An Arraignment is sometimes called a First Appearance.[1] If you did not have a Bail Hearing, then this is your first appearance in court. At this hearing, you have the option of appearing with a private attorney, applying for a public defender, or representing yourself. Click Here To Read More.

  • What is a Rule 8 Hearing

A Rule 8 Hearing is generally the second court appearance in Felony and Gross Misdemeanor cases. Some counties will not hold a Rule 8 Hearing unless you specifically request one. But if held, the hearing is meant to advise you of your rights for a second time. Click Here To Read More.

  • What is a Pre-Trial Hearing

In Misdemeanor cases, the Pre-Trial Hearing generally takes place after the arraignment (sometimes referred to as the first appearance). At this hearing, the prosecution usually makes a plea offer for you to consider resolving your case. Click Here To Read More.

  • What is an Omnibus Hearing

In Felony and Gross Misdemeanor cases, the Omnibus Hearing is the first time the court will ask you for a plea of guilty or not guilty. Before you do so, a plea offer is generally made for you to consider. Sometimes, these plea negotiations happen on the day of your Omnibus Hearing. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Contested Omnibus Hearing

Prior to your Omnibus Hearing, your attorney may file motions asking for a Contested Omnibus Hearing. Some courts may call it a Motion Hearing, Evidentiary Hearing, or Rasmussen Hearing. Regardless of the moniker, the purpose of such a hearing is to challenge issues in your case prior to a trial taking place. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Rasmussen Hearing

Rasmussen Hearings are hearings involving a request by the defense to suppress evidence prior to a trial. To get there, your defense attorney will file a motion asking the court for such relief based on an illegal seizure, illegal search, unlawful confession, or unlawful identification. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Settlement Conference

A Settlement Conference is an in-court hearing used to see if the prosecution and defense can reach a settlement prior to a trial taking place. By this point, the court has already conducted your first appearance, pre-trial hearing, and possibly contested hearings challenging the admissibility of evidence in your case.  Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Morrissey Hearing

A Morrissey Hearing is another name for a contested probation violation hearing. When a person is placed on probation and allegedly violates the conditions of their probation, they are entitled to have a hearing where the prosecution has to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the conditions of probation were violated. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Court Trial / Bench Trial

A Court Trial, or what is sometimes referred to as a Bench Trial, is a trial in front of a judge. Instead of having a trial by jury, you may choose to have your case decided by a judicial officer. In petty misdemeanor cases and juvenile court matters, you do not have a right to a jury trial and may only have a Court Trial. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Jury Trial

A jury trial is the last stage to determine guilt or innocence in a criminal case at the district court level. If all other avenues have been exhausted, such as plea bargaining, pre-trial contested motions, possible pleas to the court, and the defense and prosecution cannot come to an agreement, then you have the right to a trial by jury. Click Here to Read More.

Understanding Bail and Bonds

  • How to get someone out of jail

For most misdemeanor offenses, the person arrested will often be released from custody after a few hours. This includes Fourth Degree Misdemeanor DWI, Misdemeanor Theft, Misdemeanor Drug Possession, Disorderly Conduct, and minor traffic offenses. Click Here to Read More.

  • When will bail get set

If you are trying to figure out when will bail get set for someone, the quickest way to find out is to either call a criminal defense lawyer or call the sheriff’s office where the offense occurred. Most criminal defense attorneys worth their salt will have an idea of when bail may get set or at least be able to find out without too much difficulty. Click Here to Read More.

  • 36 / 48 hour rules

If you are arrested for a criminal offense, you cannot be held in jail forever without seeing a judge. The 36 and 48-hour rules protect against such inhumane scenarios. If someone you know has recently been arrested, understanding these time limitation rules and how each county applies them, will help you understand when that person may see a judge or be released. Click Here to Read More.

Understanding Driver’s License Revocations

  • What is an Implied Consent Hearing

Have you had your driver’s license taken away after being arrested for a DWI? If you had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more, or refused the evidentiary test, then you likely received a Notice and Order of License Revocation stating that your license to drive is being taken away. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Notice and Order of License Revocation

Upon a DWI arrest or conviction, you may have received a Notice and Order of License Revocation. This is an order stating that your driver’s license is being taken away for a period of time because of having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more, refusing an evidentiary test, or otherwise being convicted of a DWI at the end of your criminal case. Click Here to Read More.

Understanding License Plate Impoundment

  • What is a Notice and Order of License Plate Impoundment

If you received a Notice and Order of License Plate Impoundment, then it probably means you got a MN DWI with an alcohol concentration of .16 or more or you have a prior DWI within the past ten years. There are other scenarios that trigger license plate impoundment, such as Driving After Cancellation Inimical to Public Safety, but the aforementioned ones are the most common ways to get your license plates taken. Click Here to Read More.

Understanding Vehicle Forfeitures

  • What is a Notice and Intent to Forfeit Vehicle

Was your car taken away because of a DWI, controlled substance case, prostitution charge, fleeing a police officer, or for some other reason? If so, you likely received a Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit Vehicle from the state. Most importantly, you must be aware you have sixty days to challenge your vehicle being taken away. Click Here to Learn More.

Levels of Offenses

  • Petty Misdemeanor

In Minnesota, a petty misdemeanor is not a crime. They are less serious than misdemeanors. There is no possible jail time or probation associated with petty misdemeanors. There is a maximum fine of up to $300 for such an offense. The most common petty misdemeanors are violations of traffic regulations, such as speeding, driving with due care, careless driving, and vehicle equipment violations. Click Here To Read More.

  • Misdemeanor

In Minnesota, a misdemeanor offense is a crime that has a maximum penalty of up to ninety days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Misdemeanors are less serious than a gross misdemeanor, but more severe than a petty misdemeanor. Common misdemeanors include Fourth Degree DWI, Domestic Assault, Disorderly Conduct, Fifth Degree Assault, Theft less than $500, Obstructing Legal Process, Driving After Revocation, Careless Driving, Reckless Driving, Possession of Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle, and many more. Click Here To Read More.

  • Gross Misdemeanor

In Minnesota, a gross misdemeanor offense is a crime in which no more than one year in jail and a $3,000 may be imposed. Gross misdemeanors are more severe than a misdemeanor, but less serious than a felony. Common gross misdemeanors include Second and Third Degree DWI, Driving After Cancellation Inimical to Public Safety, Violating an Order for Protection within ten years of a prior offense, Theft over $500 but less than $1,000, and Criminal Vehicular Operation Bodily Harm, among others. Click Here To Read More.

  • Felony

In Minnesota, a felony offense is a crime in which more than one year of imprisonment may be imposed. When you receive a sentence of more than a year of incarceration it means you are going to a state prison facility and not a local county jail. How much prison time you may receive is governed by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. Click Here To Read More.

Understanding The Expungement Process

  • Expungement Waiting Period

If you are eligible under Minnesota’s expungement law to seal your record, then it will generally take at least 4 – 6 months to complete the process. Once you, or your attorney, file and serve your expungement petition and supporting documentation, then the court will not hear your expungement hearing for at least 60 days. Click Here To Read More.

Understanding The Criminal Defense Process

  • DWI and Jail Time

It depends on where your DWI happened, whether you have prior DWIs, what your alcohol concentration was, whether there were kids in the car, if you refused the test, among other circumstances. Click Here To Read More.

  • When Do I have the Right to Talk to a Lawyer During a DWI Arrest?

“Don’t talk to the police without a lawyer.” Generally, the best piece of advice a person can follow when interacting with law enforcement. After all, the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel and you have the right to not incriminate yourself under the Fifth Amendment. Click Here to Read More.

  • I Got Released From Jail Without Charges, Now What?

A common misunderstanding is that if you get released from jail without charges, then you will never be charged at a later time. While it is certainly possible that you may never face charges later, the more likely answer is that the prosecution did not get charges filed against you in time. Either that, or the officers typically book and release people in situations like yours. Click Here to Read More.

  • How Long Will My DWI Case Last?

From start to finish, the duration of a DWI case varies broadly depending on particular factors. These include: the severity of your DWI charge, the specific facts of your case, the jurisdiction, and how quickly the charges are filed in your case. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is Ineffective Assistance of Counsel?

If you lose your criminal case, an incredibly popular issue on appeal is ineffective assistance of counsel. That is, defendants believe their lawyer did such a poor job that it negatively affected the outcome of their case. To determine whether an attorney was ineffective, appellate courts use a two-part testClick Here to Read More.

  • NHTSA 24 Driving Cues of DWI Detection

Law enforcement personnel across the county receive training on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published material. The NHTSA develops training manuals focused specifically on how to detect whether a driver may be drunk. In one such guide, it lists twenty-four driving cues of DWI detection. Click Here to Read More.

  • NHTSA 10 Post-Stop Cues of DWI Detection

Law enforcement officers across the country are trained on how to spot drivers who may be under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Overwhelmingly, the first observations by those officers are when they see someone driving. Click Here to Read More.

  • What Does it Mean to Be in Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle for a Minnesota DWI?

A common question we get is: how can you get a DWI if you were not even driving your vehicle? These scenarios often arise when someone is sleeping in their vehicle, they are walking somewhere near the vicinity of their car, or they are stuck on the side of the road. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a stay of adjudication in MN?

A stay of adjudication in Minnesota is an excellent outcome in many cases. A stay of adjudication means there will be no conviction for the offense and the charge will ultimately be dismissed if the terms of the stay are met. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Continuance for Dismissal in MN?

A continuance for dismissal, or agreement to suspend prosecution, is the next best thing to an outright dismissal or acquittal of criminal charges in Minnesota. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a DANCO – Domestic Abuse No Contact Order?

A Domestic Abuse No Contact Order, commonly referred to as a DANCO, is a specific order that limits the contact one person can have with another. DANCOs are commonly issued in assault-related cases. Click Here to Read More.

  • How are DANCOS Removed?

A frequently asked question by all parties involved in a domestic abuse no contact order (DANCO) is: how do you remove a DANCO? Commonly, one of the parties needs to bring a motion before the court asking that the DANCO be lifted (removed). Click Here to Read More.

  • What Happens if I Violate a DANCO (Domestic Abuse No Contact Order)?

A consequence of breaking a DANCO is a new criminal charge. This is a new domestic violence-related offense which can be a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony. Domestic violence-related offenses are enhanceable, meaning the more you get within a 10-year period the more severe the consequences. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is First Degree Assault?

First Degree Assault occurs when one person assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm. In rarer circumstances it can occur when someone uses or attempts to use deadly force against a peace officer, prosecuting attorney, judge, or correctional employee who is engaged in the performance of their job. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is Second Degree Assault with a Dangerous Weapon?

Second Degree Assault is a felony and it occurs when someone assaults another with a dangerous weapon. The person does not need to be injured by the dangerous weapon to meet the statutory requirement of second degree assault. So, the main factor raising an assault to the level of second degree is the use of a dangerous weapon. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is Third Degree Assault?

Third Degree Assault in Minnesota most commonly occurs when a person assaults another and inflicts substantial bodily harm. There are two other ways that someone can be charged with third degree assault and they deal with assaults on minors. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is Domestic Assault by Strangulation in Minnesota?

Domestic Assault by Strangulation in Minnesota is a felony. It is essentially a heightened version of domestic assault where the physical act used is strangulation. To be found guilty, a person has to allegedly assaulted a family or household member with the use of strangulation. . Click Here to Read More.

  • What is Domestic Assault by Strangulation in Minnesota?

Unlawful Assembly is a misdemeanor and occurs in three different situations. In all three situations a common factor is that three or more people assemble. The difference from there depends on what that group of people are doing. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is Fourth Degree Assault?

Fourth Degree Assault occurs when someone physically assaults and inflicts demonstrable bodily harm or intentionally throws or transfers bodily fluids upon a specific class of people. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a PSI – Presentence Investigation?

A PSI, or presentence investigation, occurs after a conviction and before sentencing. In virtually all felony cases, a PSI will take place before the judge pronounces the sentence. Click Here to Read More.

  • How Long Will I Lose My Driver’s License for a DWI?

 Upon arrest for a DWI, the worry is not only about what might happen in the criminal case, but also about how long you will lose your driver’s license for a DWI in Minnesota. Click Here to Read More.

  • How can I restore my gun rights in Minnesota?

This depends on why they were taken away. For a Minnesota Felony Conviction, you can restore your gun rights in two ways. One is by receiving a pardon or by Court Order. Pardons require a person to have a clean record for 5 or 10 years (depending on the charge) and a person must apply to the Pardon Board.  Click Here to Read More.

  • When Can the Police Come on Your Property?

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Absent a warrant, or an exception to the warrant requirement, law enforcement is not allowed to enter your home. There are also areas immediately surrounding your home, known as curtilage, that enjoy the same constitutional protections as your house.  Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Proffer?

A proffer is technically a written agreement. It is an agreement between a Prosecutor and a Defendant, or witness, in which information about a crime is exchanged for the promise that their information and words will not be used against them in a later Court Hearing. Click Here to Read More.

  • Missouri v. McNeely is Not Retroactive for DWI Refusal Convictions

Eight years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States decided a prominent DWI case that had repercussions on DWI laws across the country, including Minnesota. That case was Missouri v. McNeely. That case determined that a non-consensual, warrantless blood test violates a person’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. Click Here to Read More.

  • Carrying a Firearm While Under the Influence in Minnesota

Being arrested for a DWI in Minnesota may also lead to another offense, even if unbeknownst to the driver at the time of the DWI. For those who carry a firearm, either on their person, or in their vehicle within arm’s reach, they could face charges of Carrying While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance. Click Here to Read More.

  • Do I need Ignition Interlock after a DWI in Minnesota?

Not every DWI in Minnesota requires the driver to get on the ignition interlock program to obtain their driver’s license. For instance, if someone has no prior DWIs in their past and their alcohol concentration level measures under .16, then they do not need ignition interlock. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Minnesota?

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) in Minnesota operates under the same DWI laws for alcohol related DWIs in Minnesota. DWI charges can arise from being under the influence of a controlled substance, under the influence of an intoxicating substance, a combination of those two or with alcohol, and if any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance other than marijuana. Click Here to Read More.

  • Can I be charged for something that happened a long time ago?

After an incident, it might be weeks, months, or even years before prosecutors bring formal charges against a defendant. In State v. Banks, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a complaint can be dismissed under Rule 30.02 of the Minnesota Criminal Rules of Procedure if the prosecutors unnecessarily delayed in bringing those charges. Click Here to Read More.

  • How Do I Beat My DWI Case in Minnesota?

When evaluating whether you can beat your DWI case in Minnesota, a common first analysis is to look at how you came in contact with the police. Often, DWI cases start with a traffic stop. Others may begin with the vehicle already at a place of rest. In either scenario, you will want to review whether the officer conducted a seizure. Click Here to Read More.

  • Is it Worth Getting a Lawyer for a DUI in Minnesota?

Yes. It is worth getting a lawyer for a DUI in Minnesota. Of course, you expect that to be an answer from a private law firm practicing criminal defense. But, a DUI lawyer who knows the nuances of DUI laws can add a level of knowledge that you otherwise may not have. Further, being charged in criminal court with a DUI is only one half of the case. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is the Difference Between DWI and DUI in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, DWI and DUI are basically synonymous terms. DWI stands for Driving While Impaired. DUI means Driving Under the Influence. Some states use DUI, others DWI, and some OWI. They all basically mean the same thing – that someone was driving while under the influence or while impaired. Click Here to Read More.

  • How Much Does a DWI Cost in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, the cost of a DWI generally varies based on the severity of the charge. The more serious the charge, the more likely it is going to cost you more money. There are four degrees of DWI in Minnesota. The most serious is a first-degree felony DWI. The least severe is a fourth-degree misdemeanor DWI. Second and third degree DWIs are both gross misdemeanor offenses.  Click Here to Read More.

  • How Likely is Jail Time for First DUI in Minnesota?

Most first time MN DWI offenses are 4th Degree DWIs. This is the least severe DWI for first-time offenders who have an alcohol concentration level below .16. It also is the level of DWI for first-time drug related DWIs. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Norgaard Plea?

If you are unable to recall the facts of your case, but want to take advantage of a plea offer, then a Norgaard plea may be appropriate. Norgaard covers situations where the defendant was too intoxicated at the time or just flat out does not remember what happened. This differs from an Alford plea in which a person maintains their innocence, but believes there is enough evidence to convict them at trial. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Alford Plea?

If you want to maintain your innocence, but take advantage of a plea offer from the prosecution, then an Alford plea may be for you. This differs from a Norgaard plea, which is when a defendant is unable to recall what happened, but believes they will lose at trial based on the evidence the prosecution has against them. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is a Dispositional Departure?

If you plead guilty to an offense in Minnesota that triggers a presumptive commit to prison, then your attorney may request a dispositional departure. A motion for a mitigated dispositional departure asks the sentencing judge to not send you to prison. Click Here to Read More.

  • What is the difference between MN Juvenile Court vs. Adult Court?

A primary difference between juvenile and adult court in Minnesota is juvenile court enjoys a certain level of confidentiality. In adult court, hearings and trials are open to the public. A “public trial” is a right afforded by the Sixth Amendment. In juvenile court in Minnesota, the only people allowed in a court hearing, are the judge, court staff, court reporter, prosecutor, defense attorney, juvenile and his parents or guardians, probation, and only others that the judge may permit. Click Here to Read More.


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