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 MN private attorney, applying for a public defender, or representing yourself. If you want to hire a private attorney, but have not done so yet, the court will almost always will give you a continuance to hire a Minneapolis Criminal lawyer, because you have a right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment for misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony cases.

At the hearing, the court will make you aware of the charges against you. On misdemeanor cases, they will ask for entry of a plea. Even if you choose to enter a not guilty plea at your First Appearance, you can change it at a later court hearing. So, do not worry about being stuck with a not guilty plea for the duration of your case. The same cannot be said for entering a guilty plea. Once you enter a guilty plea, the only way to undo it is to make a motion to withdraw your plea and hope that the court grants it.

For Minnesota felonies and gross misdemeanors, the court does not ask for a plea at your First Appearance. They will simply identify you (state name, address, date of birth, etc.) and make sure you are aware of the charges against you. Then, depending on the county, they will advance your case to a Rule 8 Hearing or an Omnibus Hearing. If conditions of release, such as bail, were not set previously in your case, then the court will also address those at your First Appearance.

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