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Criminal Law FAQ’s From the Desk of Adam L. Goldfine, Minnesota Criminal Lawyer
Whether or not a Defendant will be required to post bail to be released from custody is determined at the Defendant’s first appearance before a judge, the arraignment. A judge is not required to set bail, and usually makes the determination of whether bail should be required in a particular case based on a variety of factors, including the Defendant’s criminal history, the severity of the offense, and the likelihood of conviction.
To post bail, the Defendant must bring the bail amount in cash to the cashier’s office. If a bondsperson is posting a bail bond, he or she must swear under oath that the bondsperson has spoken to the Defendant and that the Defendant has promised to appear at the next court date.
The case of Miranda v. Arizona provides that before a law enforcement officer can interrogate you while you’re in custody, the officer must read you very specific warnings: 1) you have a right to remain silent, 2) anything you say can be used against you in court, 3) you have the right to the presence of an attorney, and 4) if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you at no expense to you. These warning are to protect your 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.
To address public safety concerns and in order to reduce the likelihood the accused reoffending, courts often place restrictions or conditions on the accused’s release. These conditions may include “stay away” orders, drug testing, a mental health evaluation, travel limitations, or surrender of firearms.
In the Arraignment Hearing, also called the Initial Appearance, the Judge or an attorney reviews the Complaint with the Defendant and explains his or her rights to representation, right to a speedy trial, and a jury trial where jail time could be imposed. The judge will set a future date for the Defendant to attempt to return to court or settle the case. If no bail or conditions of release have already been set, the judge will make the determination if and what conditions and bail are required for the Defendant’s release.
Prosecutors have limited resources and cannot pursue every case they are presented. Thus prosecutors tend to only file charges in cases where they believe they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant is guilty of the crime(s) alleged.
Each case and set of facts is different. However, if an investigator wants to speak to you, a lawyer can protect your rights and help you during the investigation process. Investigators do not represent you and cannot make deals or agreements not to prosecute you, only the prosecuting attorney can make deals for your cooperation. Hiring an attorney can help prevent you from incriminating yourself during the investigation period, even if charges haven’t been filed against you yet. If you are facing questions from an investigator, you should contact an attorney immediately for more specific advice about your situation.
Many people in Minnesota believe that if a police officer does not read you your rights, your case will get dismissed. Unfortunately for people charged with a crime, this is not true. “Your Rights”, also known as Miranda Rights, only apply if the officer asks you questions while you are in custody. This is often referred to as custodial interrogation. This means if you are in the officer’s or the police department’s custody, and not free to leave, and an officer asks you questions without first reading you your Miranda Rights, your statements cannot be used against you at trial. However, if you are i) not in custody or ii) you are arrested and you are not read your Miranda Rights, that does not mean you the charges against you will be dismissed, it only applies to your statements being admissible at trial, i.e. things you tell a law enforcement officer that is against your interest. This is the only example of where Miranda Rights apply. If they are not read to you, it does not mean your case is dismissed, however, it could mean that your statements cannot be used against you at your trial, but the big misconception is “if the officer does not read me my rights, my case is dismissed.” This belief is not true.
The vast majority of criminal convictions are the result of negotiated pleas. Only a very few criminal cases go to trial. What are the advantages of plea bargaining for a Defendant? For a defendant charged with a crime, plea bargaining allows the opportunity for a lesser or reduced sentence and/or penalty, along with the possibility of being convicted of a less severe offense. If the plea allows for a conviction of a less severe crime, then the defendant will have fewer and/or less serious convictions for offenses listed on his or her criminal record. Obtaining a plea bargain also provides the Defendant with certainty in the outcome of the case as opposed to the wildly divergent possible outcomes should a case go to trial. If the defendant is represented by one of our firm’s experienced criminal defense attorneys, he or she may also save lots of money by avoiding the costs of a long drawn out trial by agreeing to a plea bargain. Although a plea bargain is the most common resolution to criminal cases, sometimes the Defendant is better off going to trial. The burden placed on the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt is a high threshold and if the prosecution fails to meet that burden, the Defendant must be found “not guilty.” After a Defendant has been charged, a verdict of “not guilty” is often the only way he or she can be free of any punishment imposed by the state. Although most criminal matters handled by our experienced criminal attorneys end in a plea bargain favorable to our clients, we are also experienced in the courtroom setting and are not hesitant to bring a Defendant’s case before a jury.
The main difference between a felony and a misdemeanor charge is the penalties which may be imposed. In Minnesota, misdemeanors are crimes punishable for a year or less in custody, and felonies are crimes for which an individual can be punished for more than a year in prison or county jail. But the incarceration resulting from a felony is not the only consequence of the conviction. Even after the felon pays his debt to society, he or she is still unable to obtain a firearm, certain licenses, and will often have trouble finding employment.
Any person accused of a criminal charge, no matter the level of offense, will benefit from speaking with an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney. Even if you do not end up hiring the attorney to represent you in court, a free consultation will help a defendant become informed about the charges filed, the process, defenses available, possible plea bargains that may be offered, and the consequences in the event of conviction. When a defendant is charged with more serious charges (i.e. Gross Misdemeanor and Felony), an experienced criminal defense attorney at our firm is imperative to assist with negotiating a plea bargain, or preparing your case for trial. A criminal defense lawyer should also be able to identify important pretrial issues, such as objecting to harmful evidence being introduced against you, and to bring the appropriate motions which could significantly improve a defendant's case, or even result in charges being dismissed.
The cost of an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney can vary substantially, depending upon multiple factors, such as: the jurisdiction (i.e. Hennepin and Ramsey County are different from Blue Earth and Stearns County, and both are different from Federal Court), and the type of criminal charges which have been filed (or expected to be filed) against you. A criminal defense attorney will usually require a larger retainer fee for a complex case than for a simple case. The amount of a retainer will also usually increase in relation to the severity of the charge(s) filed against you. In some cases, a lesser charge may require a larger retainer, when the defense attorney expects to file lots of motions and challenge evidence the prosecution plans to use against you, or when expert witnesses will be needed. After your free case evaluation with us, we can customize an estimate as to the appropriate amount to charge for your specific case. Our experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorneys are available to discuss your case with you right now and you can call them anytime (24/7) at 612-217-4357612-217-4357.
It can be hard to decide whether to hire an attorney for your case. Here are a few of the benefits of hiring one of our experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorneys, in the event you are facing criminal charges. Pleading Guilty Without an Attorney Is Often More Costly There are many long term and short term consequences to pleading guilty to any crime in Minnesota. One of our experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorneys can inform you of all the consequences and costs that may result from the criminal charges you are facing and assist you with making an informed decision about your case. Factoring in all the consequences and penalties you are facing from the criminal charges, the expense of hiring one of our attorneys is often less expensive than pleading guilty guilty without a fight. Time is Important, Delaying Can Hurt Your Case Preparing an aggressive and successful defense for any criminal case requires a time commitment from your attorney. The earlier in the process you retain one of our firm’s criminal defense attorneys, the quicker he or she can begin to request discovery from the prosecutor, investigate and gather facts, and prepare an aggressive defense for your case. Going Through The Process Alone Is Hard When you are charged with a crime, you are alone. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges are not there to help you or your case. Your lawyer is the only person with any influence in the courtroom that is on your side, throughout the whole process. A strong and powerful relationship between you and your attorney is built on communication and trust. You will need to trust your lawyer with important information and facts relating to your case, and also be able to rely on the advice given to you by your attorney.
Result: Sentenced to 90 days in jail, complete treatment and probation, and No Fine.
Dakota County (Lakeville) / 3 Prior DUIs / Blood Alcohol Level: 0.18
Result: Continuance for Dismissal
Dakota County (Apple Valley) / no prior / value taken: $45
Result: Computer Theft; Terroristic Threats
Blue Earth County
Result: Stay of Imposition
McLeod County / no prior / Methamphetamine
What our clients say about us
Even good people sometimes make mistakes and have run-ins with the law. Scott Cody and Adam Goldfine didn't treat me like a criminal, they treated me like a person and they had my back. If I ever have trouble with the law again, they are the first people I'm calling.
I knew I didn't want to go to jail with two young children at home that needed me. Mr. Goldfine was compassionate and he explained my situation to the prosecutor. In the end, it all worked out and I am so thankful (and so are my kids).
You want an aggressive and experienced defense attorney for your case? It's going to cost some money (obviously), but Adam was very affordable and worked with my situation.
Adam Goldfine might be the first attorney I've hired that actually listened to my side of the story and let me make decisions for my case, unlike past attorneys that were thinking it's their way or the highway. I appreciate that.
*Name was changed to protect the client's identity.