Saturday, February 18, 2012

Minnesota DWI Court Process (Criminal Cases)

Minnesota Drunk Driving cases - once they end up in court - go down a couple of different roads.  If you are arrested for DWI, not only will you be subjected to the possibility of criminal consequences but in another proceeding (unrelated to the criminal charges) you'll also be faced with the dilemma of losing your driving privilege. 

Here, we'll cover the criminal case DWI process - in another post I'll describe the civil case process.  Of course, this is but a rough out line of what you could face - as each Minnesota DWI case is different.  If you've been arrested for Drunk Driving, your best bet is to speak with a Minnesota Criminal & DWI Attorney about your unique options.

Minnesota DWI Criminal Process
Throughout your case, you may be required to attend a number of court appearances. 

1. The Arraignment

This court appearance is the first court appearance scheduled when the crime being charged is a misdemeanor or lesser offense --- not a gross misdemeanor or felony.  Your presence at this appearance may or may not be required depending on the county and/or court in which you are being asked to appear. 

If you are charged with a misdemeanor DWI, you can often avoid appearing for this first court date by hiring an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney.  If your appearance is necessary, this is simply an opportunity to either:  (a.) enter a plea of not guilty and schedule a pre-trial (explained below) or (b.) attempt to resolve your case either through dismissal of charges, plea negotiation or other available means. 

 2. Pre-Trial Hearing

This "2nd" appearance goes by a number of different names.  Generally speaking, your presence at this appearance is required. In short, this court appearance is simply to determine if the case can be resolved without the need for further court appearances. 

This appearance is an opportunity for your attorney to:  (a,) speak with the DA about the status of the case and possible resolutions; and/or (b.) arrange for the exchange of additional evidence; and/or (c.) schedule a Contested Probable Cause Hearing (explained below); and/or (d.) schedule the matter for Trial.  In any event, typically no evidence is presented at this hearing and no witnesses need be present.

 3. Contested Probably Cause Hearing

Again, your presence at this court hearing is often required.  At this hearing, your attorney will either:  (a.) request that the Court dismiss all or some of the criminal charges against you; and/or (b.) request that the Court not allow the prosecution to admit some or all of the evidence against you (which can sometimes lead to the dismissal of the charges referenced above). 

Normally, this court appearance will require the presence of any arresting officer or other persons who participated in gathering any evidence that would be offered by the opposing party against you.  On occasion, it may be necessary for your attorney to arrange to have witnesses (who can testify on your behalf) to participate at this court appearance.

4. Trial

Your presence at this court appearance is definitely required.  At this appearance, your case will either be resolved (discussed in general in the Arraignment section above) or continued to a trial.  You have a Constitutional right to have a trial before either (a.) a jury of your peers or (b.) a Judge In either event, you are presumed innocent unless and until the prosecution meets its burden in proving all the elements of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

5. Sentencing
Your presence at this court appearance is also required.  At this court appearance, the Judge will hand down your sentence (if you have plead guilty and/or have been convicted,) which may involve the stay of imposition of time in jail, fines and other conditions of which you must abide by during the term of your probation.  An experienced Minnesota DWI attorney may be able to negotiate an alternative to jail - such as treatment, Electronic Home Monitoring, release programs or community service.  If your case comes to this, we'll have an opportunity, prior to the sentencing, to discuss the possible outcomes.

Before any of what is set-forth above, if you have been arrested for a DWI, you owe it to yourself to speak to an attorney to learn what's in store for you.  Call the Rolloff Law Office today - at (612) 234-1165) - to speak to someone who knows what you'll need to know.  All initial consultations are FREE - so do it!


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