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Criminal Defense

There are hundreds of crimes defined under the laws of Minnesota State. Information is presented here as a brief primer on procedure and the most common charges to allow clients to begin thinking about a case and issues in legal terms. This information is not meant to teach every detail of criminal law and procedure. Indeed, this is why an attorney dedicated to assisting you with charges your facing is so valuable.  (For more insight in Minnesota laws: Minnesota Statutes)

The answers to some common questions are listed below.  Remember, while there are some similarities, each case is seperate and unique.  It is important to discuss you case with an attorney as soon as possible.

How do I know if I need a Lawyer, and How do I know which Lawyer to Choose?

The decision whether to hire an attorney is an important one.  It's a decision that only you can make. When deciding whether or not to hire an attorney, keep the following in mind: 

Pleading guilty can cost a lot more than hiring an Attorney:  There can be many long term consequences to pleading guilty to any criminal charges.  By pleading guilty you could put your employment in jeopardy, some employers have clauses in their conditions of employment that state that you must not be convicted of a DWI/DUI offense.  You may have to divulge the conviction to potential employers for the rest of your life.  You may face increased insurance rates, and even lose your vehicle.  The consequences can become more dire each time your charged.  If you want to know what consequences you may face in your future, it's important to call Ascheman & Smith now.  Meet with an Ascheman & Smith attorney for a free initial consultation to discuss your case and see what we can do for you.

Time is of the essence, consult an Attorney soon:  The sooner you contact Ascheman & Smith, the sooner we can examine your case, gather the evidence, weigh the facts, and prepare your defense for the criminal charges your facing.

Hiring an Attorney can be an investment in your future:  The prosecutor is not your attorney, they are not there to help you.  They may make offers to resolve the case, but their offers are not necessarily in your best interest.  These prosecutors charge criminal cases for a living.  They know the issues in DWI cases and know the evidence against you.  They are prepared to argue aggressively for a conviction.  Having an attorney on your side is vital to protect you and your future.  When weighing the cost of pleading guilty and and all of the future costs, hiring an attorney to protect your rights is an investment in your future. 

Not all Attorneys are the same:  The lawyer you chose is the one person in the court room who is there for you.  It's important that you feel comfortable with your lawyer, the relationship between you and your lawyer can make or break your case.  Your lawyer will rely on the information you provide them, and your understanding of the case will depend on the communication between you and your lawyer.  Unless there is a good working relationship between you and your lawyer, you won't trust your lawyer with critical information.  Without that critical information, your chance of success dwindles.  Talk to one of the attorneys at Ascheman & Smith to see if we are a good fit for you.  We are open, honest, and friendly attorneys that want to fight aggressively to achieve the best possible results for you.

What are the types of offenses Ascheman & Smith handle?

We handle all types of criminal cases. If we are unable to take your case, for any reason, we will help you find an attorney who can. 

Petty Misdemeanors: 
  • Types of offenses: minor traffic violations such as speeding and parking tickets.
  • Penalty: Up to a $300 fine no possibility of jail time. 

  • Types of offenses: First time DWI offenses with below a .20 alcohol concentration, assault, petty theft.
  • Penalty: Up to $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail. 

Gross Misdemeanors: 
  • Types of offenses: Second and third DWI or first time DWI over .20, mid-level theft, minor sexual conduct.
  • Penalty: Up to $3,000 fine or 365 days in jail.

  • Types of offenses: Fourth DWI in 10 years, sexual conduct, murder, burglary.
  • Penalty: Up to life in prison. 

What legal steps and procedures will I face?

Although the specific names for each of the hearings and meetings can differ from county to county, the general process is the same.  

Arraignment: The first step that most people encounter is the Arraignment.  This is when the prosecutor, the state's attorney, will inform you or your attorney of the charges against you.  Generally this is the first opportunity to negotiate with the prosecution and see what penalties the state will be seeking.  It is also possible to resolve the case at this point by accepting a plea bargain.  

Pretrial Hearing: After the Arraignment, meeting can be set up for Pretrial or Omnibus Hearings.  The Pretrial or Omnibus hearings are a chance to contest the evidence used against you before it can be presented in a trial.  An example of contesting the evidence could be to ask the court not to let the officer who pulled you over testify, because the officer didn't have the right to pull you over in the first place.  Based on the outcome of the Pretrial or Omnibus Hearing, each side will generally re-evaluate their prior offers.  If your attorney is successful at this stage, the state, or the court, may decide to dismiss the case.  If the Pretrial goes in favor of the state, the offers that were previously made might be off the table.  

Trial:  Depending on your charges you will have the option of a jury trial or a bench trial.  In a jury trial members of the community will be the ones deciding if they believe you committed the offense charged.  In a bench trial, the judge will be the person deciding if there is sufficient evidence to find that you committed the offense charged.  At this stage the prosecution will present the evidence that they have against you.  During that time, your attorney will have the chance to cross-examine each of the witnesses against you.  After the prosecution has presented it's case, you and your defense attorney will have the chance to call witnesses and present evidence on your behalf.  The prosecution will have the chance to cross-examine your witnesses.  At the end of the trial a verdict will be presented from the jury or judge on each of the charges.