Serving Willmar, Kandiyohi County and surrounding areas
Defending your constitutional rights is something we take very seriously at
JMS&K. When you are charged with a crime, your liberty, employment, and family
can be at stake. Who you choose as an attorney may be the most important
decision you make. You need a lawyer that is willing to fight for your rights
in front of judges and juries. Our Attorneys work tirelessly to provide you
with the very best defense possible in areas such as white collar crimes, fraud
and theft crimes, DUI, assault and battery, drug crimes, and sex crimes. We
will stand by you and keep you informed so that you can make the best decisions
Few expect to need a criminal defense lawyer. When the government brings its
enormous power to bear against an individual and when the accusation is such
that the public forgets the presumption of innocence, a person's last hope is
her lawyer. We protect your constitutional rights so that you have them when you
What happens when you are charged with a crime?
In most cases, when you are charged with a crime you are faced with a
situation where you do not know what to expect. In every criminal case, certain
rights attach which are guaranteed by our State Constitution and our U.S.
Constitution. Cases also follow a set procedure comprised of court appearances
which may ultimately end with a trial. The procedures typically depend upon the
severity of the crime.
Collateral Consequences to Criminal Activity
While crimes typically carry with them penalties that can be, at least
somewhat, discernable at the outset of a case, they also carry with them
collateral consequences that are often times more serious or inconvenient than
the criminal penalty. Some of these consequences may involve drivers license
suspension or revocation, suspension or cancellation of constitutional or civil
rights such as the right to vote or carry or own firearms, cancellation or
suspension of government related benefits, and even deportation. Collateral
consequences typically depend on the severity of the crime, however, even
seemingly minor crimes or innocent-type activity that is technically criminal
may have serious consequences that do not involve the criminal court. It is
always wise to analyze these issues as soon as charges are filed or a citation
There are four levels of offenses in Minnesota. They are:
1) Petty Misdemeanors.
Petty Misdemeanors are usually violations of law such as minor traffic
offenses or parking tickets issued by a city. These are offenses which are
payable by fines of up to $300. It is always advisable to research the offense
before entering a plea or paying a fine. Some pleas to petty misdemeanors can
have surprising collateral consequences on your drivers license as well as other
Misdemeanors are punishable by 90 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
Misdemeanors cover a wide range of criminal conduct including most first time
DUI's and more serious traffic incidents, most domestic assaults, and other
minor assaults. Misdemeanors are crimes in Minnesota and can, and do, carry some
serious consequences with them including up to two years probation, chemical use
assessments, drivers license suspension and revocations, as well as suspension
of other government related privileges such as suspension or revocation of
hunting rights or your rights to carry or own a firearm.
3) Gross Misdemeanors
Gross Misdemeanors are punishable by 1 year in jail and fines of up to
$3,000. They cover conduct such as 2 or 3 DUI's in 10 years, first time DUIs
where a test indicated a blood alcohol content over .20, DUI test refusal, some
"white collar" crimes, 5th degree criminal sexual conduct and some mid-level
Felonies are, of course, the most serious crimes. Felonies are any crimes
punishable by more than 1 year in jail or prison. Felonies include most serious
theft crimes, most drug crimes, robbery, aggravated assault, and murder.
Felonies also often carry with them severe collateral consequences such as a
loss of civil rights, ineligibility for certain kinds of jobs and professions,
and usually involve long probationary terms in addition to executed jail.
What is the Procedure?
Ordinarily, criminal cases begin with an arrest, a police issued citation, or
a complaint filed by the prosecutorial authority where the alleged crime was
committed. It is very important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible
following the issuance of a citation or complaint. For example, in a DUI case,
the passage of too much time can result in a loss of your right to challenge
your license revocation or forfeiture of vehicle.
The citation or complaint is followed by a first appearance in Court where
you are advised of your rights and the nature of the charges the Government is
bringing against you. You are entitled to have an attorney represent you at the
First Appearance. At the First Appearance, the Court may also set pre-trial
conditions of your release.
The First Appearance is often followed by a hearing called an "omnibus",
"evidentiary", or "pre-trial". During these hearings, your Attorney may move the
Court to dismiss the state's complaint or move to suppress evidence.
The procedure ultimately may end in a trial to the Court or to the Jury. For
misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, you have the right to try your case to a
jury of six persons who have to unanimously agree on your guilt beyond a
Each jurisdiction employs a slightly different procedure. It is important
that you hire an Attorney who is knowledgeable about the jurisdiction where the
charges are filed. In its 50 year history, the law firm of Johnson, Moody,
Schmidt, and Kleinhuizen have handled hundreds of criminal cases involving all
types of criminal charges. Call us today.