Criminal Court FAQs

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Questions about being arrested
I was arrested, but how do I know if I have been charged?
What is a crime?
Is there a warrant for my arrest in Hennepin County?
I have a warrant. What should I do?
How do I get someone out of jail who was arrested on a warrant?
How do I post (pay) bail or bond?
What's the difference between bail and bond?
Can I get a public defender?
How do I apply for a Public Defender?
What happens at the first court hearing (arraignment) in a criminal case?
I have questions about the law. Where can I go to get help?
 
I was arrested, but how do I know if I have been charged?
If you got a Summons, then you were charged with a crime. Usually, the Summons is sent to the address you gave the arresting officer and/or the court. If you are still not sure about being charged, you could also contact the prosecutor’s office that handles cases in the city where you were arrested.

What is a crime?
A crime is an act prohibited by law. A person convicted of a crime may be punished by imprisonment and/or a fine. A felony crime in Minnesota can be punished by imprisonment for a period of more than one year. A gross misdemeanor crime can be punished by imprisonment for anywhere between 91 and 365 days, or a fine of up to $3,000. A misdemeanor crime can be punished by imprisonment of not more than 90 days, or a fine of up to $1,000. A petty misdemeanor is not considered a crime.
See MN Statutes § 609.02 - Definitions.

Is there a warrant for my arrest in Hennepin County?
Contact the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office at (612) 348-2000. There are several reasons why an arrest warrant can be issued. Some of the most common ones are:
  • failure to appear at a court hearing;
  • violation of the terms of a sentence;
  • failure to pay a fine;
  • the warrant was filed with the court as part of a criminal complaint.
I have a warrant. What should I do?
You may want to get legal advice from an attorney before deciding what to do. One option for dealing with a warrant is to call the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office at (612) 348-2000 and ask how to deal with the warrant. Or, you could go to the front desk of the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility (Jail) at 401 4th Avenue South in downtown Minneapolis. NOTE: You may or may not be taken into custody. Your case will then be put on the court calendar for the next business day for an arraignment (bail) hearing.

How do I get someone out of jail who was arrested on a warrant?
Contact the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility (Jail) at (612) 348-5112.

How do I post (pay) bail or bond?
Bail and/or bonds may be posted (paid) at the Jail or any Criminal Court location. The Jail will only accept authorized bonds from state-approved bond agents. Bail can be paid with cash only.

What's the difference between bail and bond?
Bail is money you leave with the court as a guarantee the you will go to all future court hearings. Once the case is closed, your bail is either returned to you, or it may be applied to any fines you may owe.
Bond is a guarantee offered by a bonding company that will take steps to make sure you go to all future court hearings. You, or someone on your behalf, pays the bonding company a fee and sometimes the bonding company requires some kind of collateral (e.g., property) as another guarantee that you will go to court. The cost of a bond is not refunded or applied to any fines. If you ever fail to appear in court as directed, the bondsman must pay the entire bail amount to the court, but can collect on any collateral that you put up in exchange for the bond.
Important: If you fail to appear for any scheduled hearing, your bail or bond may be forfeited to the State. In other words, the State keeps the entire amount. You do not get it back and it does not go toward any fines you may owe.

Can I get a public defender?
Public defenders are only appointed in cases involving the possibility of jail time, and where the person has a low income. If you think you will not qualify for a public defender, but you also cannot afford a private attorney, you may want to contact the Lawyer Referral & Information Service. On most days in all Hennepin Criminal Court locations, an attorney from the Misdemeanor Defense Panel is available to talk to defendants who do not qualify for a public defender.

How do I apply for a Public Defender?
If the criminal charge involves the possibility of jail time, you can apply for a public defender when you make your first appearance (arraignment) in court. You must fill out an application form to determine if you qualify for the public defender service. Be sure to arrive early for court so you have time to fill out the form and talk with the attorney before the start of the court hearing.

What happens at the first court hearing (arraignment) in a criminal case?
The first court appearance in a criminal case is called the arraignment hearing. The court may ask the defendant to fill out a Statement of Rights form. The judge usually talks about constitutional rights and reviews the charges. The judge asks the defendant if he or she wants to enter a plea of guilty, and if the plea is not guilty, then the case is scheduled for another hearing (a pre-trial or omnibus hearing).

I have questions about the law. Where can I go to get help?
You should talk with your lawyer if you have one. If you don’t have a lawyer, you could get a brief consult with a volunteer lawyer at the Legal Access Point Clinic at the Self Help CenterNOTE: Check the Clinic Calendar to see when a volunteer with experience in your topic area will be at the clinic. Another option is to contact the Lawyer Referral & Information Service at the Hennepin County Bar Association at (612) 752-6666. You could also visit our Find a Lawyer webpage for more resources.

Case Information Questions

Who is the prosecutor on my case?
Who is my public defender?
Who is the probation officer on my case?
How can I see details about my case, such as my sentencing judge?
I have an "implied consent" on my driving record and it should not be there. What can I do?
Where can I get information about expungements?
My BCA record does not match my court record. What can I do?
There is a mistake on my criminal court record. What can I do?
How can I find out if someone has a criminal case history?
 

Criminal Court Case History Questions

What is on my Minnesota criminal court record and where is it kept?
How do I get a criminal court record from a Minnesota court?
How do I get a criminal court record that covers the United States?
Does my criminal court record include my driving record?
How do I get a copy of a driving record?
What criminal court record information is public?
Can employers and landlords check my criminal court record?
My criminal court case was dismissed, so I don't have a criminal court record, right?
My arrest and conviction happened 10+ years ago. When does this information drop off my court record?
How long does the Hennepin Court keep criminal court records?
Is there anything I can do to clear my court record?
Will the judge grant my expungement request?
How do I request an expungement of a criminal court record?
How long does the expungement process take?
If my criminal case is expunged, what happens to my court record?
What about sealing the BCA and other agencies' records?
The MN Dept. of Human Services told me that I cannot work in a direct care job because of my record. What can I do?

Who is the prosecutor on my case?
Contact your attorney if you have one. He or she could contact the prosecutor if necessary. Or, you could call the Criminal Court at (612) 348-2040 to find out who is assigned to the case.

Who is my public defender?
You should contact the Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office at (612) 348-7530 to get the most current information.

Who is the probation officer on my case?
Contact the Hennepin County Adult Probation Office at (612) 348-2110 to get the most current information.

How can I see details about my case, such as my sentencing judge?
Criminal cases that have ended with a conviction and a sentence can be viewed in the MNCIS - MPA Remote SystemNOTE: Online records do not include street addresses for parties, or information on pre-conviction criminal, traffic, and petty misdemeanor cases. But, pre-conviction criminal record information is only available at the courthouse or by calling the Criminal Court at (612) 348-2040.

I have an "implied consent" on my driving record and it should not be there. What can I do?
Contact the MN Department of Public Safety at (651) 296-2940, which is the agency that handles driving records. Usually, implied consent information appears on a driving record as a result of a DWI/DUI arrest in a criminal case, but the implied consent part of a court case gets handled in Civil Court because it relates to the privilege of having a license to drive under civil law.

Where can I get information about expungements?
You can learn more about criminal expungements on our website, or visit the Self-Help Center on the public service level (PSL) of the Hennepin County Government Center. To schedule an expungement hearing, please call the Expungement Line at (612) 348-8305.

My BCA record does not match my criminal court record. What can I do?
You could get a copy of your BCA criminal record and bring it to the one of the Criminal Division locations to ask Court Administration to review the information.

I think there is a mistake on my criminal court record. What can I do?
You can call the Criminal Court at (612) 348-2040 or visit one of the Criminal Court locations to ask Court Administration to review the information.

How can I find out if someone has a criminal case history?
You could visit a courthouse in person and search court records on a public MNCIS computer. Records may also be searched via the internet using MNCIS-MPA Remote, but there are limits to the data that is available online. The most complete information is available at the courthouse.
You can also request a copy of a Hennepin County criminal court record (e.g, case history) through the mail for a fee (see criminal and miscellaneous fees). To submit a case history search request, please fill out a Criminal Case History Search form and send it to the court along with the fee to the address listed on the form. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope so we can mail the records to you.
 
What is on my Minnesota criminal court record and where is it kept?
Your Minnesota criminal court record is a combination of all of the files and records of any felony, gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor, or petty misdemeanor(s) ever charged against you in Minnesota; as well as the sentences served for those charges. All District Courts, city, county and state law enforcement agencies, and prosecutor's offices keep their own records.

How do I get a copy of a criminal court record from a Minnesota court?
Contact the District Court in the county where the person was charged with a crime. You can ask court staff how to get a copy of a Minnesota criminal court record for that county. If you are interested in certified copies of criminal court records in more than one Minnesota county, contact each County Court for information about their criminal court records.
For a statewide background search, you could contact the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to get a printout a criminal record information for the entire state. Law enforcement agencies are required to report certain details about crimes to the BCA. However, the BCA report may not include all of the criminal records that are available at the courthouses. Contact the BCA in person, by mail, or via the Internet at www.dps.mn.gov/divisions/bca. The BCA mailing address is:
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
1430 Maryland Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55106
(651) 793-2400

How do I get a copy of a criminal court record that covers the United States?
If you had criminal cases in other states, contact those courts directly about your criminal record information. You may also want to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) if you are not sure of your complete record in other states. Their mailing address is:
FBI-CJIS Division - Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, VA  26306
(no contact via phone)

Does my criminal court record include my driving record?
No, not unless you were charged with a crime at the level of misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony--for example, criminal vehicular manslaughter. See MN Statutes § 609.02 Criminal Definitions for details. A basic speeding ticket is not considered a crime under Minnesota law.  The Driver & Vehicle Services Division of the MN Dept. of Public Safety is the agency that issues and regulates driver's licenses, so they may have a record of the driving offense in their system.

How do I get a copy of a driving record?
Driving records are maintained at at the Driver & Vehicle Services Division of the MN Dept. of Public Safety. Please contact them for more information.

What criminal court information is public?
The type of crime charged, the name of the court that convicted or dismissed the charges, the date of conviction or dismissal, a description of the sentence served, if any, and other details of the crime and court process. The Minnesota Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch are established by the Minnesota Supreme Court and govern public access to all types of records of the Minnesota Judicial Branch.
NOTE: If you are filling out expungement forms, do NOT rely on information from records viewed online through MPA Remote.

Can employers and landlords check my criminal court record?
Generally, yes, unless the record is expunged. In Minnesota, any person can search District Court criminal court records at the county courthouse. An employer or a landlord will most likely search the court records of the county where you live or work. Whichever county (or counties) is searched will have only the criminal court records for that particular county.
Another place that the public, including employers and landlords, check criminal records is at the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in St. Paul. Law enforcement agencies throughout Minnesota report information in their records to the BCA. The BCA has a "statewide" computerized record of criminal cases, part of which is accessible to the public and part of which is private. An employer or a landlord can access the public records, and if he gets your written permission before doing the search, he may also see your private criminal record at the BCA. The BCA private records include juvenile criminal history, and may also include details about being arrested. Contact the BCA for more specific information on their policies and procedures on records.

My criminal court case was dismissed, so I don't have a criminal court record, right?
Wrong. You most likely have a public criminal court record that says you were charged with a crime and that your charge was later dismissed.

My arrest and conviction happened 10+ years ago. When does this information drop off my criminal court record?
Minnesota Courts retain some type of record of court cases forever. Just because a case is old does not mean the record is no longer available to be viewed by the public. Older paper files may be archived (in storage), saved on microfiche, or saved in a digital format, but information about court cases will always be saved; information never automatically "drops off." Court records are viewable by the public unless sealed by law or court order.

How long does the Hennepin Court keep criminal court records?
The Hennepin County District Court maintains records according to the Records Retention Schedule for the MN Judicial Branch. The management of court records is subject to the law at MN Statutes § 138.17 on keeping and destroying public records.

Is there anything I can do to clear my court record?
You can ask the court to seal one or more criminal cases. This is called "expungement." This action does not erase your criminal case record, but it does limit who can see it. Learn about Criminal Expungement in our Help Topics for more information about sealing criminal court records.

Will the judge grant my expungement request?
While it is easier to expunge a dismissed case than a conviction case, no one can predict how a judge will decide your request for expungement.

How do I request an expungement of a criminal court record?
There are many steps involved in asking for an expungement. Learn about Criminal Expungement in our Help Topics. There you will find forms, instructions, video tutorials, and more.

How long does the expungement process take?
At least 4 months, or more. By law, at least 63 days must pass from when your paperwork is mailed to the government agencies to when a judge holds the hearing to consider your request. If the judge grants the expungement, another 60 days must pass before the court actually seals your record.

If my criminal case is expunged, what happens to my court record?
A sealed state court record still exists but the public cannot view it. If the expunged crime was the only crime on your record, you will not have a court record that the public can see. Employers and landlords cannot see sealed (expunged) records, BUT law enforcement and immigration agencies CAN see them.

What about sealing the BCA and other agencies' records?
Under current Minnesota law, a state court judge can order the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and other agencies to expunge a dismissed case. However, if you were convicted or pled guilty, the judge generally cannot order the BCA and other agencies to expunge or seal their records. If you want to try to expunge all conviction records kept by any agency, you should talk with a lawyer to get advice.

The MN Dept. of Human Services told me that I cannot work in a direct care job. What can I do?
For details on this issue, read the Legal Fact Sheet: Disqualification by MN Dept. Human Services published by the MN Legal Services Coalition.
 
I am running late for court. What should I do?
How can I reschedule a court date or get a continuance?
I can’t make it to court today. What should I do?
How can I find out if a defendant had a hearing?
What is an "omnibus hearing"?
How can I get an interpreter for a criminal case?
How do I schedule an "implied consent" hearing?
I am supposed to be a witness on a case. What should I do?
How can I get out of a subpoena?
I want to respond to a civil subpoena for a Hennepin case. What should I do?
 
I am running late for court. What should I do?
Contact your attorney right away if you have one. If you can get to the court in a short amount of time, please do so. If your case is a felony and has been assigned to a judge, you should call (612) 348-2040 and ask to be connected with your judge’s clerk to let them know you will be late.

How can I reschedule a court date or get a continuance?
Defendants:  Talk to your attorney if you have one. If you don't have an attorney, you could call the Criminal Court at (612) 348-2040 to find out if it is possible to change the hearing date or not.
Attorneys:  You may request a continuance by phone at (612) 348-2040 or by Email. The email address is 4thCriminalContinuanceRequest@courts.state.mn.usPlease include the court file number in the subject line of the email. Attorneys must have filed a Certificate of Representation with the court, or attach it to your email.

I cannot make it to court today. What should I do?
Not showing up for a hearing can cause problems for defendants, and they may not be able to get a new hearing date. If you think you cannot make it to your hearing, contact your attorney right away if you have one. If you don't have an attorney, you should call the Criminal Court at (612) 348-2040. If your case is a felony and has been assigned to a judge, you should also speak with the judge’s clerk by calling (612) 348-2040, unless you were able to talk to your attorney.

How can I find out if a defendant had a hearing?
You can look up hearing information in the “Court Calendars” section of the MNCIS - MPA Remote. You can search Court Calendars by the defendant’s name and then see that case record. NOTE: There may be a delay in entering data into the system, so if you a looking for very recent information, you may want to call the Criminal Court at (612) 348-2040.

What is an "omnibus hearing"?
An Omnibus Hearing is a pre-trial hearing in felony cases that deals with the legal issue of probable cause. If you have questions about the details of your case, including legal terms and procedures, you should talk with your attorney. Court staff can give you public information about a case, but they cannot give legal advice or their opinion on what you should do in your case.

How can I get an interpreter for a criminal case?
You may call the Criminal Court at (612) 348-2040 to schedule an interpreter for court proceedings.
  • Parties:  If a litigant asks for a foreign language interpreter or a sign language interpreter in a court proceeding, the court appoints and pays for a qualified interpreter to be present in court.
  • Witnesses: If a witness asks for a foreign language interpreter or a sign language interpreter in a court proceeding, the court appoints and pays for a qualified interpreter to be present while the witness is testifying.
  • Participants: Under Rule 8 of the General Rules of Practice for District Court, the court may appoint and pay for a qualified foreign language or sign language interpreter for court “participants,” including juveniles and parents/legal custodians of juveniles.
  • Court Observers: The court is NOT required to appoint a foreign language interpreter for an observer of court proceedings. However, if the court observer is deaf or hard-of-hearing, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the court’s Language Access Plan, the court will provide the observer with a qualified sign language interpreter or other assistance as requested.
  • Jurors: Minnesota courts do not have to provide a foreign language interpreter for jurors but, they must provide a qualified sign language interpreter for deaf jurors under ADA.

How do I schedule an "Implied Consent" hearing?
Implied Consent cases are handled in Civil Court, so contact them at (612) 348-3164 to schedule a hearing.

I am supposed to be a witness on a case. What should I do?
If you got a subpoena and have questions about your testimony, you could contact the attorney listed on the subpoena. If you did not get a subpoena, but you think the prosecution or defense might ask you to be a witness, you could contact the office of the prosecutor or defense attorney for more information about your role.

How do I get out of a subpoena?
A subpoena is a court order to testify in court or provide information in a case. You must obey a court order or ask to change it. If you want to change something about the subpoena, contact the attorney or party who issued the subpoena or get advice from a lawyer.

I want to respond to a civil subpoena for a Hennepin case. What should I do?
You could contact the attorney or party who issued the subpoena about how to respond. You could contact Civil Court Administration at (612) 348-3164 if you have questions about subpoena procedures.
How can I get my bail money back?
My car was towed. How can I get it back?
My vehicle was seized due to a controlled substance charge. How can I get it back?
My property was taken to be used as evidence. How can I get it back?
 
How can I get my bail money back?
Only the judge can order bail refunds. If the judge ordered that all or part of your bail be refunded to you, you can come any of the Hennepin County Criminal Court locations to request a refund. Bail refunds are only issued by check and they are mailed to you, not given out in person, in most cases. The bail refund check will be issued only to the defendant, and you must bring an ID to request your refund. If the judge did not order a refund of the bail, you could call the Criminal Court at (612) 348-2040 to get more information about the case.

My car was towed. How can I get it back?
Call or go to the towing company and show your ID and proof of insurance. Be prepared to pay towing, impound, and/or storage fees in order to get your car. If you have more questions, you could try talking with the police department for the city where your car was towed.
You can call (612) 673-3000 or 311 to reach the City of Minneapolis Impound Lot.

My vehicle was seized (taken) due to a controlled substance charge. How can I get it back?
You could contact the prosecutor’s office for the city where your vehicle was seized (taken) to find out what they plan to do with the case. In some situations, it is possible to ask a judge to review the taking of the vehicle by filing a request for judicial review. Forms and instructions to ask for judicial review in certain types of cases can be downloaded from the Forfeiture/Impoundment Court Forms section of our website.

My property was taken to be used as evidence. How can I get it back?
If your property was taken as evidence in a case, you may have to wait until the case is finished in court before you can get it back. You could contact the law enforcement agency that took the property to ask how to get the property back.
I want to file an appeal. How can I do that?
How can I find out when a defendant will arrive at prison?
I was the victim in a crime. How can I get the No-Contact Order lifted?
I got a bill from Probation. What is it for and do I have to pay it?
Can I vote if I have a felony on my record?
Can I own or possess a gun even if I have a felony conviction on my record?
 
I want to file an appeal. How can I do that?
Not every case can be appealed, and appeals involve complicated laws and procedures. You should get legal advice from an attorney about whether you can appeal your case and how to do it. One resource for advice is a brief consult with a volunteer lawyer at the Legal Access Point Clinic at the Self-Help Center. You could also contact the Lawyer Referral & Information Service at the Hennepin County Bar Association at (612) 752-6666. The Court of Appeals Help Topics offer some information on appeal procedures and forms.  NOTE: Court staff cannot give people legal advice or tell them what they should do in their case.

How can I find out when a defendant will arrive at prison?
Contact the MN Department of Corrections at (651) 361-7200 to get that information. All male defendants are first sent to St. Cloud Correctional Facility, which is the clearinghouse for paperwork. From St. Cloud, they may be sent to another correctional facility, e.g., Moose Lake, Stillwater, Oak Park Heights, Moose Lake, Faribault, etc. Female defendants are sent to Shakopee Women’s Prison.

I was the victim in a crime. How can I get the No-Contact Order lifted?
One option is to discuss your request with the victim/witness advocate at the prosecutor’s office or with the prosecuting attorney. If the case is finished in court, you could try contacting the Hennepin County Probation Office at (612) 348-6180 to see if lifting the order is an option in this case.

I got a bill from Probation. What is it for and do I have to pay it?
It is common that a defendant who is sentenced to supervised probation is also ordered to pay a correctional service fee. If you have questions about the bill, contact the Hennepin County Probation Office at (612) 348-2110.

Can I vote if I have a felony on my record?
It depends on the sentence that was imposed and the current status of your case. If you were convicted of a felony (including a “stay of imposition” with probation), you probably lost the right to vote. However, once you are discharged from the probation or sentence, your right to vote can be reinstated. You could contact your probation officer to find out what steps are necessary to get your voting rights restored. Read the law at MN Statutes § 609.165.

Can I own or possess a gun even if I have a felony on my record?
When a person is convicted of a felony, he or she loses some civil rights for a while, including the right to own or possess a gun (firearm). The person automatically gets those rights back when they have completed their sentence. But, if a person was convicted of a felony “crime of violence” as described in MN Statutes § 624.713, subd. 5, he or she loses the right to own or possess a gun for life. The only way to get that right back is to file a petition with the court asking for a special order. Read the law at MN Statutes § 609.165NOTE: The court does not publish forms or instructions for that petition, so you should get help from a lawyer.