The first time a court charges you with a crime is a stressful experience, to say the least.
According to the Minnesota Legislature, a first-time offense could earn punishments of fines, jail time or imprisonment, depending on the severity of the crime. You likely have many questions as you entertain your options.
1. What are Miranda rights?
The shows on TV are not entirely wrong about what happens during and after an arrest. The officer will tell you that you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say now may be used against you later, and that you have the right to an attorney. Do not waive your right to an attorney, and do not answer any of their questions beyond saying, “I invoke my right to remain silent.”
2. How long will I wait for a court date?
There is a lot of waiting and a lot of anxious ambiguity in the process. Do not trust the authorities to have your best interest in mind. Instead, use your rights and trust that you will get a chance to defend yourself. It could be a while before you get a court date, but a good attorney should be able to negotiate for your release on bail.
3. What does it mean to be “out on bail”?
Bail allows you to get out of jail and go about your daily life while you await your court date. Once you make bail, do everything that the judge says. Stay within the jurisdiction of your original arrest (at minimum, do not cross state lines). Go about your business in a steadfast, law-abiding manner. Show up to your next court date on time. Be respectful, and let others do the talking for you.