Attorneys Office - Questions
Important Facts You Should Know...
Information about crimes:
What is involved in the Court process:
- How do I report a crime?
- If you believe a crime has been committed against yourself, you can call the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department or
the Thief River Falls Police Department to report the crime. Their number is 218-681-6161. They will then forward a review
of the proposed charges to the Pennington County Attorney’s office for consideration of charges.
- What are the different types of crimes
- Petty Misdemeanor:
- Maximum penalty: $300 fine (not considered a criminal charge)
- Example: Speeding ticket
- Maximum penalty: 90 days, $1,000 or Both.
- Typical charges include assault, disorderly conduct. This is considered a lower level of criminal offense.
- Gross Misdemeanor:
- Maximum penalty: 1 year, $3,000 fine or Both.
- Typical charges include second or third time DWI’s, second or third time assaults, and other more serious
- Maximum penalty: includes over 1 year in jail.
- These are more serious types of offenses with a possibility of imprisonment in the State Penitentiary.
- A charge or complaint.
- A charge can be something as simple as a ticket or a long form written document drafted by the Pennington County
Attorney’s office. These documents are filed with the Court and the person named in the document must appear in court
or pay a fine, depending on the level of offense.
- Means the first court appearance. The person cited in the complaint or ticket will have an initial appearance.
On lower level offenses, the person will be given the choice as to whether or not they plead guilty or not guilty.
For gross misdemeanor or higher offenses, the court will not initially accept a plea and will set conditions of release,
including any kind of bond.
- According to Minnesota law a bond must be placed on any Defendant who has been arrested and is currently in custody.
There are two types of bond which include a surety bond or a cash bond.
- Second court appearance (Plea hearing).
- On more serious offenses, the person charged in the complaint or ticket will appear a second time to plead guilty
or not guilty. If a person pleads not guilty, the Judge will ask whether the person intends to hire an attorney and the
Judge will set this matter down for either an omnibus hearing or a pre-trial hearing.
- Omnibus hearing.
- The person cited in the complaint or charge has the right to challenge the legality of any of the documents or stop
prior to proceeding to trial. If there is a problem with the stop or seizure of evidence, the defendant will move forward
and ask the court to consider dismissing the charges and suppressing the evidence.
- Pre-trial hearing.
- A pre-trial hearing is simply a hearing where the court schedules a jury trial. This is normally a person charged
in the complaint’s last chance to enter into a plea agreement with the County Attorney’s office.
- Jury Trial.
- Misdemeanor jury trials, including gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor trials are a trial to a jury of 6 persons.
- Felony. Felony jury trials are a trial to a jury of 12 persons.
- Hung jury. A situation where a jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict. All verdicts by a jury in the State of Minnesota
must be unanimous, and if there is a dead lock, the jury would be considered a “hung jury”.
- Verdict is a decision by the jury or Judge on a charged persons guilty or innocence.
- Court trial. The Judge alone renders the verdict.
- Jury trial. The jury of our peers renders a verdict.
- Pre-sentence investigation.
- If the matter is a serious matter and the court needs more consideration as to the person involved, the Court will
ask that a pre-sentence investigation be done. The person then convicted will appear approximately 5 weeks after the
verdict is rendered or a plea is entered for sentencing. The Court will consider the pre-sentence investigation when
making a decision on sentence.
- The Judge who heard the jury trial will render a sentence with recommendations from the victims, the county
attorney’s office and probation office (normally for serious offenses)
- Victim’s rights.
- According to Minnesota Statute 611A., victims have certain rights in the process. Those rights are more outlined on
other areas of this website.
- Often times serious type of offenders who do not go to prison are placed on probation. Normally they serve a fair
amount of local jail, do a fair amount of community service and are then monitored by probation agents in Pennington
- The more serious offenders often receive a sentence to the State Penitentiary, which is determined by the Minnesota
- The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines are a set of guidelines adopted by the Minnesota Court Systems which apply a
uniform sentence to persons who commit serious types of offenses.
- An instrument that a defense or prosecuting attorney can utilize to secure the appearance and testimony of any
witness in a case.
- Proof beyond reasonable doubt.
- The standard of proof that the County Attorney’s office must show before a jury may render a verdict of guilty.
- Hung jury.
- A situation where a jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict. All verdicts by a jury in the State of Minnesota must
be unanimous, and if there is a dead lock, the jury would be considered a “hung jury”.
- Every defendant has a right to an appealed verdict in sentence to the Court of Appeals and ultimately to the Minnesota
and United States Supreme Court.