“Frequently Asked Questions”
A subpoena is an official court order requiring you to appear at the time and place it specifies – usually to provide testimony. You should read your subpoena carefully. It is important that you call the telephone number listed on the subpoena when you receive it for verification. The subpoena will tell you when and where to appear. You should bring it with you to court.
Failure to appear constitutes contempt of court. If you move or change your phone number, please contact the Freeborn County Attorney’s Office immediately.
How does a report or call for assistance become a criminal case?
Local law enforcement officers investigate reports or calls for
assistance and, if they feel there is sufficient evidence, a written
investigation report with a request for criminal charges is made to the
Sometimes only a ticket or citation is issued by the officer to a person charged with a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor offense. If you receive the ticket or citation, you are the Defendant – the person charged with committing a violation of law. A Prosecutor will be called upon to prosecute the case against you!
The ticket will instruct you when to appear in Court. If you fail to appear on a ticket, the Court
may issue a Warrant for your arrest or could suspend your driver’s license.
Do cases always go to trial?
Most cases are resolved without a trial. Often there is no
real question of guilt, and the only question to be resolved is the amount and
degree of punishment. Because both the
A plea agreement is simply an agreement in which both the
Please note that if you are a victim of a crime, we will seek your input, but this office has to make the final decision on whether a plea agreement is appropriate in a specific case. We consider the severity of the crime, the nature and strength of the evidence admissible at trial, the wishes of the victim, the likelihood of success at trial, and the probable punishment that the Court will impose when making any plea proposal.
In a trial, the attorney from the Freeborn County Attorney’s Office presents the case for the State and has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant did commit the crime or crimes alleged in the complaint. The Defendant may present evidence, although he has no obligation to do so. He will be present throughout the proceeding. Both sides may examine and cross-exam all witnesses that are called by either the State or the Defendant. The trial may be either before a judge, or before a jury.
The Judge presiding over the case sentences a Defendant who has been found guilty or has pleaded guilty. Using Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge sentences the Defendant in a manner appropriate to the crime and other circumstances related to the case. The Defendant may be sentenced to serve time in jail or prison and/or may be placed on probation and ordered to pay court costs and/or a fine. In addition, a Defendant may be ordered to pay restitution for out-of-pocket expenses incurred by a victim of the crime. Before making his decision, however, the judge will usually have the opportunity to review a pre-sentence investigation report, which is an evaluation of the Defendant prepared for the sentencing judge by the probation department. It contains a recommendation as to probation and/or incarceration and is an important factor in the judge’s decision. The victim of a crime will be contacted by a probation officer for information in regards to restitution and/or a victim impact statement. The statements can relate only to the facts of the case and personal injuries or financial loss incurred by the victim directly related to the crime.
A crime committed against any person is a crime committed against the State. Our community and each of us as individuals deserve protection against criminal activity. It is the decision of the Prosecutor’s office to determine whether or not there is “probable cause” to charge a person with a crime. Prosecuting a case is a decision made by a Prosecutor, not by a “victim” or a “witness”. This decision is made after reviewing an investigation report prepared by law enforcement. Once charged, the decisions made to proceed to trial are made by the Prosecutor and the Court. The Prosecutor and the Defendant, with the authority of the Court, can compel testimony of a victim or witness to a crime. The loss of a case simply because a victim or witness refuses to testify or “drops out” is a tragedy. Should you have any reluctance about testifying in a case, please discuss your concern with the prosecutor handling the case.
Since a threat to a witness or a victim may be a crime, it is unlikely anyone would make such a threat. If anyone has threatened you in connection with the case in which you are involved, either in or out of court, you should contact law enforcement and report the threat immediately.
Should I be concerned if some months pass without hearing
from the Court or the
Unfortunately, over-crowded court calendars and other delays do cause cases to drag on for what may seem an unreasonable length of time. Please realize that we are continuing to work on your case even when you are not hearing from us and that we will do whatever we can to move your case efficiently through the system. Your patience, therefore, is greatly appreciated and we understand your exasperation, as we share it in many instances!
If you are subpoenaed by the Freeborn County Attorney’s Office,
please arrive twenty (20) minutes before the time scheduled for the case.
Please report to our office in the
I am a resident of
The duties of the
Are juvenile delinquency proceedings open to the public?
Delinquency hearings are generally closed to the public. There are some exceptions, such as when a 16 or 17-year-old has been charged with a felony. Crime victims may also be allowed to attend hearings.