I have been arrested. When will I see a judge?
You must appear before a judge within 36 hours after arrest without a warrant (48 hours after arrest with a warrant). The clock starts ticking at midnight the day AFTER arrest, excluding weekends and legal holidays. If you are arrested the Friday before Memorial Day, you may not be presented to a judge until Tuesday at noon. There is an exception for misdemeanor offenses – If you were arrested for a misdemeanor and are not brought before a judge within the 36-hour limit, you must be released with citation. Minn. Crim. P. subd. 5 (1).
If I am released on bail or bond, are there rules that I must follow?
In addition to posting bail (money paid directly by you or another person to the Court which is returned at the end of your case) or bond (money paid by a bond company on your behalf at a cost to you of 10-15% of the total bail amount), the judge can place different conditions on your release. These conditions are rules you must follow throughout the entire case until the acquittal, dismissal, or sentencing. Examples of the conditions include restrictions on where you can travel, firearm access, who you can associate with, and where you live. If the judge has concerns that you pose a possible threat to society or that you are a flight risk, they may set a condition that you must return to custody at night. Restrictions related to alcohol and drug use are the most common.
What will happen when I first see a judge?
Your first time in front of a judge after being charged for a crime or taken into custody on a warrant is simply called a “first appearance.” In Minnesota, what will happen at this first hearing depends on what you have been charged with and the county you were charged in. Most first appearances will address bail and/or conditions for release. At the first appearance you will also be formally charged, and arrangements are made to schedule the next hearing which will typically be a pre-trial or omnibus hearing. It is helpful to work with an experienced attorney who can assess your case and understands what motions can be brought and when. There are strict timelines that must be followed to bring motions.
What is a “plea deal” and will I be offered one?
A plea deal is an offer by the prosecution to settle your case without a trial. Most commonly the offer involves you entering a guilty plea on a different or lesser crime with an agreed upon “disposition” or sentence, so you will know exactly what your sentence will be when you enter a guilty plea to the Court. You are not required to accept a pea deal, and they can change over time as the case gets closer to trial, witnesses are interviewed, alleged victims give their input, or the Court rules on motions.
How long will I really be in jail?
While you may be sentenced to 30 days in county jail, it’s very unlikely you will serve that much time. The actual amount of time you spend in jail will likely be reduced by “time served” (time you served in jail since arrest – even if the time was served on another case); reduction in time owed due to work performed while in jail (called “STS” or “Sentence to Serve”); or staggered sentencing which allows you to serve time in increments and possibly have some increments canceled if you meet certain requirements. You may also be allowed to leave for work every day and return to the jail at night under work release. Reduction in sentences vary in state and federal prison.