What to Expect: The Legal Process for Criminal Charges in Minnesota, Part 2
If the person is taken into custody remains in jail, he or she must be brought in front of a judge to determine the conditions of his or her release. At the Bail Hearing, a Judge will determine if a Defendant will be released on his own recognizance (ROR) with the promise that he will appear in court.
Alternatively, the judge may decide that a person is a flight risk and/or that he or she is a danger to the public safety as well as weigh other factors in determining that a certain bail amount be set in a particular case. As a general rule, it is a very good idea for a Defendant to arrange to have a lawyer present at the bail hearing if possible so that the attorney can argue for a lower bail or that the defendant be released on his own recognizance.
Timing of the Bail hearing: Under the Minnesota Rule of Criminal Procedure, a defendant shall be brought before a judge or judicial officer without unnecessary delay and in any event, not more than 36 hours after the arrest. However, this 36 hour rule is does not include: the date of arrest, Sundays, or other legal holidays. For example, it is common that a person arrested on a Saturday morning would not have his bail hearing until Tuesday morning by noon although this is more than 36 hours after he was arrested because the 36 hours did not begin to run until Monday morning at midnight. The only bright spot here is that a person is entitled to credit against his sentence for all time spent in custody. In some cases an attorney may be able to help a Defendant get released before a formal bail hearing is held. So, an attorney should be consulted as soon as possible.
At this stage, the Defendant attends an arraignment, which is also called the Initial Appearance, where the Judge or an attorney reviews the Complaint with the Defendant and explains the right to have an attorney for representation, and, most importantly, his right to have a jury trial in any criminal case in which jail time could be imposed. If it has not already been done, a bail amount and/or other conditions of release may be set at the Arraignment hearing or the Judge may instead decide to release the Defendant on his or her own recognizance (ROR) with the promise that he or she appear at the next scheduled court date. Unless the defendant pleads guilty at the Arraignment, the Judge will set a future court date for defendant to come back to court to attempt to settle the case. The second appearance is scheduled generally one month to six weeks after the Arraignment.
After the Arraignment, the Defendant’s attorney will serve a formal request for Discovery in the case. Upon request, the County Attorney’s Office must give the attorney all the documentation that they have in their possession that relates to the Defendant’s case. This documentation generally includes the police reports, transcripts of any tapes of statements that were made by the defendant or other witnesses during the initial investigation and any videos or recordings that were obtained at the time of arrest. Generally, there is a small out of pocket copying and processing cost associated with obtaining these reports which must be paid before the police reports, copies of statements and other discovery material will be provided.
The next is the settlement phase. There are several different types of hearings at this stage and the Defendant may need to attend more than one hearing depending on the case. Many cases are settled at this stage. The types of hearings that the Defendant may be required to attend are:
Omnibus Hearing – A hearing to attempt to settle the case and/or litigate legal issues and motions.
Contested Omnibus Hearing – A hearing to contest the admissibility of evidence at trial that Defendant and his or her attorney believe was obtained in an unlawful or improper manner. A defendant will need to consult with an attorney to determine what the relevant law is and whether it would be worthwhile to contest the admissibility of a particular piece of evidence.
Pre-Trial Hearing – this hearing is an opportunity for the attorneys to discuss the facts of the case and attempt to resolve the case prior to trial.