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Minnesota Court Records

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What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in Minnesota?

When an individual is charged with a criminal offense in Minnesota, the case is tried following the state’s criminal justice process. Usually, a case begins with the initial court appearance where the defendant is informed of the criminal charges and their constitutional right to a trial. The state (plaintiff) is responsible for proving that the defendant committed the said crime beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the evidentiary standard.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What Percentage of Criminal Cases Go to Trial in Minnesota?

The Minnesota District Court is the general trial court in the state. According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch Annual Report of 2018, the court recorded 68,665 statewide criminal case filings. Typically, 95% of the majority of felony and misdemeanor convictions in the state are from plea bargains and not criminal court trials. Plea bargains provide an alternative to trial and allow defendants to enter a guilty plea in exchange for reduced charges and lesser sentences.

When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?

In Minnesota, every defendant accused of committing a crime is entitled to a trial in court. The defendant also has the right to demand a jury trial within 60 days of the first appearance in court. However, the right to a jury trial depends on the severity of the charge. Typically, most felonies and gross misdemeanors punishable by possible jail time are handled by a jury.

According to Minnesota Law, petty misdemeanors are not punishable by incarceration. Hence, defendants charged with petty misdemeanors are heard by a judge.

What Are The Stages of a Criminal Trial in Minnesota

Generally, the Minnesota criminal trial process involves the following stages:

  • Jury selection
  • Opening statements
  • Presentation of evidence and examination of witnesses
  • Rebuttal
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury instructions
  • Any jury questions dealing with evidence or law
  • Jury deliberation
  • The verdict
  • The sentencing

How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Minnesota?

According to Rule 11 of the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant must be tried within 60 days after the plea’s entry. In extraordinary circumstances where the trial does not begin within 120 days of the plea, the defendant must be released under non-monetary conditions according to Rule 6 of the Minnesota Criminal Procedure.

What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Minnesota

Steps in a Minnesota criminal trial may vary slightly depending on the type of trial employed in a case. The Jury trial process is the most common in the state criminal justice process, and it begins with jury selection. Here, the judge and attorney on both sides interview potential jury members to determine their ability to remain fair and unbiased throughout the trial. Jurors who do not fulfill the required standards are dismissed.

After the selection, the trial commences in the courtroom with the prosecuting attorney’s opening statements. The statement provides the jurors with an overview of the case. The defending attorney may also do the same, reserve the right to make the statement until later, or opt not to make it altogether.

Subsequently, both sides are allowed to present facts, evidence, and witnesses to testify under oath. This affirms the guilt or innocence of the defendant according to state rules of evidence. The witnesses are directly examined and then cross-examined by opposing attorneys to discredit or refute the opposing side’s claims. The defense has the right to cross-examine the witnesses that the prosecution calls to testify. They may also subpoena witnesses and get them to testify on the defense’s behalf.

Furthermore, the defense may contest the admissibility of evidence obtained by the prosecution and vice-versa. As a result, some evidence may be rejected on the basis of irrelevance, illegality, or prejudice.

The judge and jury are also allowed to clarify issues by questioning the witnesses and examining evidence.

After the rebuttal, the attorneys make their closing arguments to summarise and highlight their most vital points. Before the jury is sent for deliberations, the judge instructs them on the state laws applicable to the case to inform their decisions. Overall, the jury determines guilt or innocence through the trial process. If the defendant is found guilty, a different date is set for sentencing. The stages of jury selection and deliberation are omitted in bench trials handled by a judge.

Can You Be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Minnesota?

No, the Minnesota State Constitution mandates that no person shall be put to trial twice for the same charges. Double jeopardy is prohibited by Section 7, Article 1 of the Minnesota State Constitution, and the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Minnesota

Court records are generated, maintained, and distributed by individual courts in Minnesota. Interested persons may request paper copies of records locally stored in the court. Depending on the courthouse, they may retrieve these copies via written, phone, mail, or online requests. Also, Minnesota district courts provide access to electronic records via the public access terminals at the state’s various courthouses. These courthouse terminals provide access to public district case information stored electronically.

How to Access Electronic Court Records in Minnesota

The Minnesota Judicial Branch of government maintains electronic court records generated in Minnesota Courts. The website provides online access to trial and appellate court records through the Access Case Records feature. Although most court records are accessible on this platform, the site will not display sealed, expunged, or exempted records. Additionally, open court records do not contain personal identifiers like social security numbers, bank account numbers, tax IDs, juvenile records, etc. Likewise, third party amalgamation sites such as Minnesotacourtrecords.us also aid the retrieval of criminal court case information.

How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Minnesota

Criminal expungement is the process of removing court records from public view in Minnesota. However, expunged records in the state are not permanently deleted or destroyed. This is because they remain visible to state and federal law enforcement agencies such as the police, immigration officers, the FBI, etc.

According to Chapter 6 of the Minnesota Revised Statutes, criminal records can only be expunged if they satisfy the following criteria:

  • If the offense was a first-time drug offense
  • If the juvenile offense was addressed in adult criminal court
  • If the defendant was found not guilty or if the case was eventually dismissed
  • If the individual was convicted of a petty misdemeanor

The individual must also complete all sentences, including probation or diversion programs, and remain unconvicted of any new crimes in at least five years. It is important to note that crimes that require the individual to register as a sex offender can not be expunged or sealed according to state laws.

To get a record expunged, eligible persons must petition the court for expungement by completing the required paperwork, filling the expungement forms, and paying the required fees. The judge then sets a hearing date where the request will be examined closely and then granted or denied. The hearing is usually held 60 days after the petitioner files the expungement petition. If the request is granted, the criminal record is sealed after 60 days.

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