Trial Process and Proceedings


Arraignment; Rule 5 Hearing; First Appearance; or Initial Juvenile Hearing

- An Arraignment Hearing is held when the defendant has been charged with a misdemeanor crime. A Rule 5 Hearing or First Appearance is held when the defendant has been charged with either a gross misdemeanor or felony crime. An Initial Juvenile Hearing is a hearing where the defendant makes his or her first appearance before the judge. The defendant will be advised of his or her rights, the charge is read and conditions of release are reviewed.

Rule 8 Hearing

- The Rule 8 Hearings are held within 14 days of the Rule 5 Hearing. The defendant will be furnished with copies of the evidence, (police reports, statements, etc.) and will have the opportunity to object to the introduction of evidence or statements. If the defendant has an objection, an Omnibus Hearing will be scheduled to review the issue. If the defendant does not object to the evidence, he or she will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The Rule 8 Hearing can be combined with the Rule 5 Hearing

Omnibus Hearing & Pre-Trial Conference

- An Omnibus Hearing is held within 28 days of the Rule 8 Hearing to determine matters that need to be resolved prior to the trial, such as the admissibility of evidence and statements. Once the judge rules on the matters, the defendant will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The purpose of the pre-trial conference is to discuss the material issues of the trial, identify witnesses and discuss possible resolution of the case prior to trial.

Contested Hearing

- A contested hearing may be heard prior to the trial to resolve issues that may be raised by either the State or the defendant.


- At trial, the actual determination of the guilt of the defendant is decided. At a court trial, a judge decides the defendant guilt, whereas at a jury trial, a jury decides the defendant’s guilt.


- If the defendant is convicted or pleads guilty, the court will impose a sentence. Sentencing may occur immediately after the defendant is found guilty, after he or she plead guilty, or sentencing can be scheduled at a later time. However, if the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty to a felony charge, the court will order a pre-sentence investigation prior to sentencing. A pre-sentence includes social and criminal history of the defendant, victim impact information, restitution information and any recommendations to the court by the pre-sentence investigator regarding sentencing. The prosecutor and defense attorney may also make recommendations to the judge regarding sentencing. The sentencing judge must apply the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines, which give a presumptive sentence that a defendant should receive based upon the seriousness of the crime and the defendant’s criminal record. When a probationary sentence is called for by the guidelines, a judge may impose county jail time, fines, treatment, restitution, community service or other requirements as conditions of probation.

Order to Show Cause

- This hearing is to review the defendant’s performance on probation.

Contested Restitution Hearing

- This hearing is held to determine the amount of restitution the defendant is ordered to pay the victim.

Probation Revocation Hearing

- This hearing is held to determine if a defendant has violated his probation, and, if so, should have his probation revoked.

Criminal Trial

All trials are different, but most follow a typical pattern:
  1. Opening Statements: This is where both sides (prosecution and defense) introduce their case to the judge and/or jury.
  2. Presentation of Evidence: The most extensive stage of a criminal trial, the presentation of evidence is where the case is argued. Witnesses are called and evidence presented. (This is where the prosecution attempts to prove to the court that you are guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."
  3. Closing Arguments: This stage is the last opportunity for both sides to address the court before a verdict is reached.
  4. Jury Instructions: The judge will instruct the jurors on their responsibilities before they retire.
  5. Jury Deliberations: The jury will retire to a private area to determine the defendant's guilt or innocence.
  6. Verdict: Once a verdict is reached,the jury will return to the courtroom. If the defendant is found guilty the judge will schedule a sentencing date.
Misdemeanor Case Process Chart
Felony Case Process Chart

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