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Criminal Law in Minnesota

A qualified Minnesota criminal defense attorney can explain how to post bail, evaluate your criminal case, create effective legal strategies, and defend you in court. If you feel overwhelmed and uncertain of the next step and you or a loved one has been arrested (or likely will be arrested), this article was written for you.

Because jail time may be possible and your future is at stake, we’ll discuss:

  • Minnesota specific criminal laws;
  • What you need to know about criminal defense in Minnesota; and
  • How to work with your Minnesota criminal defense attorney.

Minnesota Criminal Laws

Criminal law seeks to protect individuals and the general public from injury. Laws are written and applied to provide notice of what constitutes a crime and to serve as a general and specific deterrent, provide restitution, rehabilitate, and serve as a punishment.

Minnesota criminal laws are found in the Criminal Code of the Minnesota Statutes. The Code includes all state crimes, including trespass, burglary, falsifying evidence, arson, money laundering, rape, bigamy, incest, kidnapping, elder abuse, and child abuse.

Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred.

For example, in Minnesota, the statute of limitations for:

  • Assault is 3 years. (Minn. Stat. В§628.26(k)).
  • Robbery is 3 years. (Minn. Stat. В§628.26(k)).
  • Murder is unlimited. (Minn. Stat. В§628.26(a)).

Wisconsin has sentencing guidelines that are used by judges when handing down sentences after a conviction.

  • The Wisconsin Commission on Sentencing Guidelines explains that guidelines are used to promote “uniform and proportional sentences for convicted felons”.
  • The goal is to avoid criminal punishment based upon the convicted felon’s race, gender, or exercise of Constitutional rights.

The specific sentence is at the discretion of the judge and is based upon your criminal history, severity of the crime, and the circumstances of the crime.

  • Circumstances that will increase the penalty are “aggravating” circumstances.
  • Circumstances that will lessen the penalty are “mitigating” circumstances.

What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense

If you are being questioned about or have been arrested for a crime in Minnesota, your future, family, liberty, and money may be at risk.

  • Ask to be represented by an attorney, even if you’re just being questioned. Always seek legal counsel.
  • Asking for an attorney doesn’t indicate that you’ve done anything wrong.
  • Regardless of whether you’re innocent or guilty – or somewhere in between – you need to be represented by a Minnesota defense lawyer.
  • Do not speak with the police except to provide your name and ask for an attorney.
  • Be honest and open with your attorney, even if what you have to say looks bad.

How to Work with a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer

Everything your lawyer asks of you, suggests to you, and any other actions he or she takes is to represent you and put forth the best defenses. Always keep this in mind when you choose how to act or react.

In addition,

  • Follow your lawyer’s advice.
  • Explain what happened to your attorney – include the details you’d rather forget.
  • Return all phone calls or emails right away.
  • Provide all requested information right away.
  • If your phone number or address changes, update your attorney immediately.
  • It’s okay for your attorney to question you, even challenge you.
  • It’s okay, professional, and appropriate for your attorney to be polite and cooperative with witnesses, the alleged victim, police officers, investigators, and the district attorney (prosecutor).

Bottom Line: If you have been questioned in or accused of a crime in Minnesota, you need a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. Whether innocent or guilty, you need representation.

  • Your next step is to call a criminal defense attorney now.
  • Ask the bar association or friends for referrals or simply Google, “How to find a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.”
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