First appearance (Arraignment) - State System: After the complaint has been filed, it is served on the person charged by mail or by the suspect is brought before a Judge. This is called the "first appearance" or "arraignment." At the first appearance, the court is crowded with other defendants. As a result, this is likely to be a lengthy proceeding and it may not be possible to discuss your case with the prosecutor prior to having the matter called before the Judge. Each person in the Court room is informed of his or her rights and given an opportunity to apply for representation from a public defender if they qualify financially. When Court convenes, each person charged with a crime is brought before the Judge where they are notified of their rights and the charges against them. If the person elects to enter a plea of "not guilty" , the matter is set on for a second appearance. If a defendant does not appear as scheduled, the Court will issue a warrant for the individual's arrest.
7. Rasmussen Hearing, Omnibus or Pretrial: If the case is a misdemeanor, the second appearance may be called a pretrial or a "Rasmussen" hearing. If the case involves a felony (where incarceration may exceed on year), an "Omnibus" hearing is held. At this second appearance, the person accused may challenge the probable cause in the case and request that the Judge dismiss the charges. This may involve submitting the issues to the court "on the record" which means that the Court makes its decision without live testimony based on the existing police reports. The person accused may also require live witnesses to testify where they can be cross examined. If the case is not dismissed, it is scheduled for a trial date.
8. Pre-trial motions: Prior to the trial, the prosecutor or Defense counsel now make any pre-trial motions, including any motions to exclude evidence or limit testimony.
9. Trial: After any pretrial motions have been heard and ruled upon by the Court, the case proceeds to trial. If the charge is a felony, or a misdemeanor punishable by more than six months in prison, all states give the defendant the right to have the case tried before a jury.
10. Sentencing: If at any time prior to trial the Defendant pleads guilty, or if the defendant is found guilty after a trial of the issues, a hearing is held to determine sentencing. Sentences may entail jail time, restitution and fines. Often, the sentencing may occur at the end of a trial or when a plea is entered and is not always heard as a separate hearing. In cases that involve felonies, repeat DWI's or crimes of violence, the Court may require the defendant to meet with probation to discuss the charges, the circumstances surrounding the charges and past criminal history. This is called a Pre-sentence Investigation. The probation will compile the information into a summary for the Judge to review. That summary will often recommend a sentence. Ultimately, however, it is the Judge who makes the sentencing decision. In many cases, Minnesota Statutes set forth minimum sentences or presumptive sentences. These are guidelines for the Court to follow when determining punishment.
11. Appeals: A convicted defendant is then entitled to appeal (e.g., on the grounds that the evidence admitted against him at trial was the result of an unconstitutional search).
12. Post-conviction remedies: Both state and federal prisoners, even after direct appeal, may challenge their convictions through federal-court habeas corpus procedures. Generally, to challenge a conviction the convicted party must prove that three was ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct or newly acquired evidence which, if known, would likely have lead to a different result.