Frequently asked questions

Very few criminal defense attorneys publish pricing on their website.  There are two reasons for this.  First, criminal defense is a competitive business, and posting rates tells our competitors how to undercut us.  More importantly, defending criminal cases is complex, and it’s impossible to put a price on these services without having a good understanding of what the case is about and what the client’s needs are.  Some cases are relatively simple and might even be resolved with a single court appearance.  Others can be far more complex and require multiple court appearances with contested hearings, expert witnesses, and multi-day trials. 

Shopping for a defense attorney is like shopping for most anything else – you’re likely to see a variety of price points from different attorneys for the same service.  An experienced attorney with a thriving practice who is dedicated to criminal law is likely going to cost more than a recent graduate who is struggling for business and practicing multiple types of law.  That price difference reflects the differing level of expertise, how busy the attorney is, and the level of service you can expect to receive.

Criminal law is an extremely complex process.  In order to competently defend against a criminal case, you need to be familiar with constitutional law, state statutes, rules of criminal procedure, rules of evidence, and any relevant case law.  In addition, you’ll need a firm grasp of trial skills, including how to conduct a direct and cross examination, how to impeach witnesses, how to get exhibits accepted into evidence, how to make objections, and what you can and cannot say in front of a jury.  You’ll also need to be familiar with what a typical sentence looks like for the charges you’re facing so that you can evaluate any potential plea offers.  One wrong step along the way can doom your defense. 

Everybody has a right to represent themselves if they wish.  But it is very, very difficult to learn all these skills on your own, and it’s virtually impossible to learn them as well as an experienced criminal defense attorney.  A decent defense attorney has knowledge on all these topics.  A great defense attorney has spent years devoted to mastering them.  They can use that expertise to help you get the best possible outcome in your case.  The prosecutor handling your case is almost certainly an accomplished attorney.  You deserve to have one on your side as well.

As a defendant in a criminal case, you have several important rights.  Some of the most important include:


  • The right to a trial by jury.  For a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor case, the jury will be made up of 6 people.  For felony cases there will be 12 jurors.  You may also choose to give up the right to a jury and have a trial before a judge only. 


  • The right to be presumed innocent.  You are innocent until proven guilty, which can only happen if you plead guilty or if a jury finds you guilty unanimously, meaning that all jurors agree that you are guilty.


  • The right to confront all witnesses and evidence against you.  If your case goes to trial, the government must produce its evidence in open court.  You have the right to cross-examine, or question, those witnesses.  If you have an attorney, your attorney will cross-examine witnesses on your behalf.


  • The right to present witnesses and evidence on your own behalf.  You can have the court issue a subpoena, or court order, forcing anyone to come to court to aid in your defense if they’re not willing to do so on their own.


  • The right to remain silent.  No one can force you to testify at your trial, and if you choose not to no one can comment on your decision not to testify.  You also have the right to testify in your own defense if you choose to do so.


  • The right to be represented by an attorney, or to represent yourself if you wish to do so.  If you want an attorney but cannot afford one, the court may appoint an attorney to represent you.


  • The right to have a pretrial hearing to contest evidence in your case.  At this hearing you may be able to convince a judge to suppress evidence.  This means that the government cannot use that evidence in a trial against you.

Yes, a DWI conviction will almost certainly impact your driver’s license.  In most cases, your license will be revoked shortly after the offense occurs.  In other cases, the revocation will not occur unless you are ultimately convicted of DWI in criminal court, which could be many months later.  The length of the revocation depends on the circumstances of your case and whether you’ve ever had DWIs in the past. 

Oddly enough, in some situations pleading guilty to a DWI can actually help you get your license back quicker than not being convicted at all!

Probably.  In most situations, a person can regain their driving privileges by getting the ignition interlock device installed in their car.  You must get state approval to do this, however – just getting the interlock installed in your car does NOT make you legal to drive unless the state has formally accepted you into the ignition interlock program.

Note that this only applies to individuals who had valid driver’s licenses prior to being charged with DWI.  If your license was already suspended or revoked for some other reason, the ignition interlock program will not be an option for you until you address whatever it was that had caused you to lose your license before the DWI incident.

Thanks to television, nearly everyone already knows them by heart – “you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you…“  But many people get arrested and never have their rights read to them.  Does this mean that their case should be dismissed?

Sometimes, but not usually.  These rights (known as a Miranda warning after the court case that requires them) are required under certain circumstances.  But many people get arrested without ever having their rights read to them, even though it seems like everyone on TV gets them.  Why is this?

The Miranda warning is only required when police officers wish to question a person that they’ve already arrested.  If police wish to question a person who they have not arrested, they’re not required to give the warning.  Or, if police arrest somebody and do not intend on questioning them, then again, they’re not required to give the warning.  The warning is only required prior to asking questions of a person under arrest.

This is only a very general overview of Miranda.  The are several additional rules and exceptions that apply.

There’s no one easy answer to this question, except to say that it will probably take longer than you’d think.  The criminal justice system moves very slowly, with some jurisdictions particularly backlogged.  There might be a delay of several months between court hearings, with multiple court hearings required before your case is resolved. 

It’s even possible to have a significant delay before your case even gets to court.  While most offenses in Minnesota are charged relatively quickly, the statute of limitations for most criminal offenses is three years!  That means that the government has three years from the date of an offense to formally charge the case.  It’s not common, but you technically could be charged today for something that happened nearly three years ago.

If a quick resolution of your criminal case is important to you, a good criminal defense attorney may be able to expedite the process for you. 

It depends on the type of conviction and what sort of work you do, but for certain people a criminal conviction can have devastating career consequences.  Sometimes these are obvious – for example, a DWI conviction is likely to be a very big problem for someone who drives for a living.  Others are not nearly so obvious.  In Minnesota, a convicted felon is barred from being licensed as an insurance adjuster, an assisted living facility manager or operator, or a private detective.  Even misdemeanor convictions can potentially be disqualifying.

Anyone who holds a professional licensure – medical professionals, teachers, social workers, etc. – is at risk of major professional consequences. 

Adult criminal convictions do not “fall off” of a person’s record.  Rather, they remain accessible forever.  In order to get a criminal conviction removed from your record, you will need to seek an expungement of that record.

Latest news in criminal defense.