The Minnesota Criminal procedure is a set of laws and guidelines that is used for processing adult offenders in the state. While all states have framed their criminal laws in keeping with the constitutional tenets, every geographical division of the country has its own specific way of handing crimes and perpetrators. Here is a look at the steps that are followed in MN when handling criminal occurrences.
It should be noted here that the criminal procedure starts at the point at which the offender is taken into custody or when an arrest warrant is issued in the name of the culprit. Arrests can only be made on the basis of probable cause. This means that before the police can detain an accused, they need to have evidence in their hands which points at the involvement of this person in the criminal act with reasonable certainty.
If the detention entails procuring an active warrant from MN courts, the judge will have to make the probable cause determination based on the affidavit submitted in court by the sheriff’s office. Witness testimony may also be required to cement the case in favor of the law enforcement agency.
What happens after arrests?
Like in all other states, Miranda Rights do apply in Minnesota as well and under this law, police officers are legally bound to advise the arrestee that anything he says will be held against him in the court of law hence he has the right to remain silent. Of course, this does not mean that the cops will not try to get a confession out of the offender after booking.
Upon the completion of the preliminary processes, such as fingerprinting, the ceasing of the personal effects of the arrestee and taking mug shots, the questioning rounds begin. However, the police cannot use any type of force to compel the defendant into confessing. In fact, state laws permit the accused to request that his lawyer be present while he is being questioned.
Bail and release
After arrest, whether the detention occurred under an MN outstanding warrant or not, the accused will be held in custody till the tribunal is ready to hear his bail petition. As per law, all arrestees are to be presented before a judicial officer within 36 hours of being detained. It is probable that a low risk criminal who only has a petty infraction to his name will be released on personal recognizance.
On the other hand, offenders who are being accused of serious crimes will need to post bail if bonded release is allowed. The bail amount will be set by the judge and the decision to grant release will be taken on the basis of the crime committed by the offender, whether the release would endanger the lives of the public, witnesses and/or victim.
Arraignment and plea
Once detained without an arrest warrant, the arraignment will follow quickly after the bail hearing. Usually a date will be assigned for this during the bail hearing. For those who are already being held in custody, this will occur within 36 hours of arrests. This is the initial appearance of the defendant in court and as such the judge will tell him about the charges bring brought against him. The matter of legal representation will also be settled at this stage and the accused will be asked to enter a plea.
Pre trial hearings, the trial and sentencing
Most cases are sort out through plea bargains; this is an agreement reached between the prosecution and the defendant where the accused saves the state judicial mechanism time by pleading guilty in return for reduced charges. If a plea bargain is not reached, the defense can request a Rasmussen hearing which is held to determine if the rights of the suspect were violated in any way by illegal arrests and the undue use of force, etc.
A grand jury hearing is only held in MN for political matters and cases involving first degree murder. Felony cases are heard by a panel of 12 jurors while misdemeanor cases that carry a sentence of at least one year are heard by 6 jury members. Through the trial evidence and arguments are presented by the defense and the prosecution. The verdict is left up to the jurors. However, the sentencing is carried out by the judge.