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Criminal appeals in Minnesota

Minneapolis Criminal Appeals Attorney

            How does one appeal a case in the State of Minnesota?

            First, in Minnesota, there is the State court system.  In Minnesota, we have a trial court, a Minnesota Court of Appeals, and a Minnesota Supreme Court.

            The lowest level of court in Minnesota is Conciliation Court.  Conciliation Court cases have a maximum claim value of $15,000.00.  The filing fee is $75.00.  Conciliation Court is for lesser value cases.  The Conciliation Court is set up to help litigants ease the procedural burden, and parties, plaintiffs and defendants, should usually proceed without a lawyer, which is called Pro Se.  They need to proceed without a lawyer because typically the dollar amount of the value of the case is less than what attorney fees would cost.  So, you typically show up, tell your story to a judge, and then the judge decides the case.  Similar to a Judge Judy situation.  The losing party can appeal to the trial court, also known as the District Court.   

            At the trial court level, the trial court is the court of first impression for all other court cases.  Criminal cases are prosecuted in the trial court.  A criminal case must be prosecuted in the county where the crime was committed.  City prosecutors prosecute misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors.  County attorneys prosecute felonies.  A criminal case can take anywhere from one week to a year to resolve.  Most cases are settled per plea agreement.  If a case does not settle, it is decided by a jury trial.  There are 6 jurors in a misdemeanor case.  There are 12 jurors in a felony case.

            If a defendant is convicted by a jury, he can appeal.  Usually, in a criminal case, the defendant has 90 days from the date of sentencing to take an appeal.  If a defendant fails to file a Notice of Appeal within that 90 days, he is forever barred from taking an appeal. 

            To take an appeal, a defense counsel will need to order all of the transcripts of the case, and then, when filing the appeal, a filing fee of $400 or $500 will usually be required.

            A criminal defendant has a right to take an appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  After the Notice of Appeal is filed, later, the defendant will need to file and serve an Appellant’s Brief.  The prosecution then will file its Respondent’s Brief.  The defendant then can file a Reply Brief.  Subsequently, oral argument will be scheduled.  Oral argument is then made to a 3 judge panel of judges at the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  The 3 judge panel then issues its written opinion, either upholding what happened at the trial court, or reversing the conviction.

            If the conviction is upheld, the defendant can then seek review at the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The Minnesota Supreme Court is not required to accept any appeal.  First, the defendant has to write a brief to convince the Minnesota Supreme Court to accept his case.  This usually means that a defendant’s case is of state-wide significance, or, involves a constitutional issue, or the like.  The Minnesota Supreme Court will not take a case simply to correct an error below.  If the Minnesota Supreme Court accepts the case, then the parties write briefs to address the merits of the case, and seek to win.  Then, oral argument is heard at the Minnesota Supreme Court. Minnesota has 7 Supreme Court Justices who hear and decide cases.

If a defendant still does not prevail, if his case involves a constitutional issue, he can then seek review at the United States Supreme Court.  Be sure that your lawyer is admitted to the United States Supreme Court, as not all lawyers are admitted.  Here, again, a defendant first has to establish that his case is significant enough for the United States Supreme Court should accept his case.  For example, that the case has national significance, or involves a constitutional issue, or the like.  If the United States Supreme Court accepts the case, then, the parties file briefs on the merits.  Later, argument is made to the 9 Justices of the United States Supreme Court.   

Criminal Appeals Attorney Lynne Torgerson is an appellate lawyer of repute. She has won appeals on behalf of her clients. She is also admitted to the United States Supreme Court, a door that has not be opened to all lawyers. For expert help on your appeal, please call Appeals Lawyer Lynne Torgerson today at (612) 339-5073!

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