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BK Law Criminal Procedure

The Minnesota criminal procedure is guided by the state’s criminal law, which is the part of law that deals with behavior considered as crimes against society, the public, or the state. Outcomes of a conviction under criminal law result in criminal penalties such as fines, probation, jail time, or any combination.

That said, criminal procedure is the legal framework and process governing criminal offense adjudication. The main stages of a criminal procedure are a stop, detention, arrest, plea bargain, trial, sentencing, and appeal.

Stop

A stop is just as the name suggests; it is a temporary interaction with law enforcement officers, often to confirm identity, gather information, or investigate potential criminal activity. The police only need reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to stop an individual. The subject of the stop has a right to know the reason for the stop. Also, they have a right not to answer questions after a stop and are generally free to leave.

Detention

Detention is relatively similar to a stop as the officers involved will only need to have reasonable suspicion to effect one. Also, the purpose of a detention is the same as that of a stop. However, the police may need to keep you longer to ascertain facts about the case.

An Arrest

During an arrest, enforcement officers take a suspect into custody to charge them with a crime. However, not all arrests will lead to criminal charges. Unlike a stop and detention, where the police need reasonable suspicion to effect one, they must have probable cause to effect an arrest. Probable cause means that the arresting officer or officers reasonably believe a crime has been committed.

After Arrest

After an arrest, the prosecution may file charges, which would mean going through the court system. Your lawyer can help you get a plea bargain deal, which means pleading guilty to less serious crimes for less severe penalties and avoiding trial. If not, you may have to go through a trial where the jury gives a guilty or innocent verdict. If guilty, the judge issues a sentence, but you can appeal.

Your Rights as a Defendant

Like other states, Minnesota criminal law presumes every suspect is innocent until proven guilty. As such, the prosecution must prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction. Also, the law guarantees a defendant certain constitutional rights to prevent abuse and ensure fairness in the criminal procedure.

First among these rights and protections is the Sixth Amendment, guaranteeing a defendant’s right to a speedy jury trial and legal representation. If they can not afford a lawyer, the court must assign them a public defender. There is also the Fifth Amendment, which offers protection against self-incrimination, popularly known as the right to silence.

“You can remain silent or refuse to answer questions if you feel what you say can lead to self-incrimination. This is the part where having a lawyer becomes absolutely crucial,” says attorney Omeed E. Berenjian of BK Law Group. The Fourth Amendment offers protection against unlawful seizures and searches with only a few exemptions.

While these rights are guaranteed, you can waive them, but it is never a good idea because it would mean exposing yourself.

Final Words

As shown in this guide, the criminal procedure is the legal process of adjudicating crimes and begins with the initial interaction with the police, to when the court decides at trial and appeal. Also, knowing your rights and having legal representation are key factors in getting better outcomes.

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