What Happens When You’re Charged with a Crime?

Facing criminal charges in Minnesota is a serious matter that can have life-altering consequences. The criminal justice system here is structured to allow proceedings to be conducted fairly. Still, the complexity of the law can often feel overwhelming to those who stand accused. From the moment charges are filed, the accused enters a legal process filled with critical decisions and procedural steps that can impact the outcome of their case.

Criminal charges can be triggered by various situations, such as arrests made after police investigations, during routine checks, or through direct observation of an alleged crime. Once charged, the individual must attend an arraignment—a crucial first step in the judicial process where the accused hears the charges against them and is asked to enter a plea. It is at this point that hiring a defense attorney becomes essential. An experienced lawyer will help interpret the charges and the complexities of the law and guide the accused in making informed decisions about their defense.

Preparing for the case involves several stages, including the discovery process, where evidence is exchanged between the defense and prosecution, pre-trial motions, and, if necessary, the trial itself. Each phase requires meticulous attention to detail and a strategic approach to protect the rights of the accused throughout.

For those facing charges, understanding these steps is not just about navigating the legal system but actively participating in your defense. Knowing what legal avenues are available and how each part of the process works can affect the course of your case.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in Minneapolis, call Brockton D. Hunter P.A. at (612) 979-1112 or contact us online today.

Events Leading up to Criminal Charges: Arrest and Booking

The journey through the criminal justice system begins long before one sets foot in a courtroom. It starts with the initial stages of law enforcement engagement.

Report of Law Violation

A report of a violation of the law typically initiates the process. This report could be from a direct complaint by a citizen, observations by law enforcement, or investigative work. The nature of the report can range from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies.

Following the report, law enforcement officials investigate to gather evidence and determine the validity of the reported crime. Investigations may involve interviewing witnesses, collecting physical evidence, or surveillance. The goal is to establish if a crime has indeed been committed.

Determination of Probable Cause and Arrest

If, during the investigation, the officer develops probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime, they can make an arrest. Probable cause means having more than a suspicion. There must be enough factual evidence to justify the belief that you have engaged in criminal activity.


Once arrested, you are taken to the police station for booking. This administrative step involves recording your personal information, fingerprints, and photographs. The police also inventory any personal effects, which are stored until released or used as evidence in the case.

Charges and Arraignment

After making an arrest, the officer submits a report of the alleged crime to the prosecutor’s office. Here, the prosecutor reviews the evidence gathered during the investigation to decide whether it is sufficient to pursue criminal charges. The prosecutor will file a criminal complaint if the evidence is deemed adequate. This document is crucial as it formally outlines the charges against you and lays the groundwork for the following judicial proceedings.

The arraignment is your first appearance in court, where the formal charges are presented.

During this phase, several vital actions occur:

  • Informing of charges. The judge officially informs you of the criminal charges filed against you.
  • Explanation of rights. You are reminded of your legal rights, including the right to a fair trial, the right to remain silent, and the right to be represented by an attorney.
  • Entering a plea. You can respond to the charges at the arraignment by entering a plea.

For any offense that could result in incarceration—including misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, or felonies—the court must ensure that you understand your right to legal counsel. This includes the right to have an attorney appointed if you cannot afford one.

Retaining Legal Counsel and Preparing for Your Case

Legal counsel is crucial when facing charges. An experienced attorney brings deep knowledge of the law, which is essential for effectively navigating the complexities of the criminal justice system. Lawyers serve as guides and advocates, protecting the defendant’s rights.

A defense attorney can help you prepare for your case by:

  • Investigating and conducting research
  • Analyzing evidence
  • Building a defense

For legal counsel to be effective, you must discuss all details of your situation openly and honestly. Providing an accurate account of the alleged incident allows your attorney to fully assess the situation and determine a practical course of action. Omissions or inaccuracies can hinder your lawyer’s ability to offer an effective defense or strategize appropriately.

Going Through Judicial Processes

After being charged with a crime, your case will proceed through several judicial processes.

These processes include the following:

  • Pre-trial procedures. This phase involves discovery and motions. Discovery allows both sides to see the evidence that will be presented in court, allowing the defense and prosecution to prepare adequately for trial. Various motions may be filed by both parties to address specific legal questions. These can include motions to suppress evidence, dismiss charges based on insufficient evidence, or procedural motions affecting how the trial will proceed.
  • Trial process. The trial is the most recognizable phase of a criminal case, where the prosecution and defense present their arguments and evidence before a judge or jury.
  • Sentencing. If you are found guilty, the case moves to sentencing, where the judge doles out the penalties for the offense.

Making Informed Decisions About Your Case

Understanding the sequence and implications of each stage when charged with a crime is crucial. This knowledge sets clear expectations for what lies ahead. It empowers you to make informed decisions about your legal strategy and next steps. Each phase—from arrest to potential sentencing—carries its own set of challenges and opportunities for defense.

If you face criminal charges, remember that you do not have to navigate this daunting journey alone. To discuss your situation with Brockton D. Hunter P.A. in Minneapolis, please contact us at (612) 979-1112.