FAQs

Initial Consultation

Different Types of Charges

DUI/DWI Questions

Questions for Dealing with the Police

Court Appearances

Questions Regarding Sentencing

Collateral Consequences

 

Also see our additional Questions and Answers from the Avvo Website

 


 

Initial Consultation

What does it cost to meet with an Ascheman Law attorney?
Your first consultation is FREE. If you're considering meeting with an attorney, but you don't know if we can help, or if you can afford our high-quality personal service, call us now. We handle most criminal cases on a flat fee basis and accept credit cards. Because each case is different, after reviewing your case we will tell you up front if we can take the case and what it will cost. You then have the option of hiring us to deal with the case-at-hand.

We are straightforward and honest attorneys that want to help you. You will not be charged any fees until all potential fees have been completely and thoroughly explained to you.

Remember, your First Consultation is free, contact us now!
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What is the Attorney-Client Privilege, and when does it apply?
The law recognizes that trust is a hallmark of the attorney-client relationship and that only through communicating fully and frankly with his or her attorney can an attorney represent his or her client effectively. The attorney-client privilege basically states that anything you tell your lawyer in the course of your lawyer’s representation of you is confidential and cannot be revealed by your lawyer to anyone without your consent. The attorney-client privilege also applies to all information relating to your representation, whether provided to you by your attorney or by any other source – including the prosecutor.

The attorney-client privilege is a powerful tool that becomes available to you from the moment you first consult with an attorney about your case; the privilege becomes more protective and comprehensive as soon as you hire your attorney. After meeting with an Ascheman Law attorney, the information you provided us remains privileged, whether you choose to hire us or not.

Remember, when you are communicating with an attorney about your case, if your conversation can be overheard, it is not confidential. This is why we recommend that you don’t speak to your friends and family about the facts of your case – you never know who else could hear your conversation, or where that information could end up. This is also why we prefer to speak with you in our office. In-person office conversations ARE confidential, privileged communications and CANNOT be used against you.
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Different Types of Charges

What is a petty misdemeanor?
A petty misdemeanor is any offense that has a maximum fine of $300 and carries no potential jail time. (i.e. Speeding Ticket, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, etc.) These offenses are not crimes. There is no right to an attorney in these cases and you cannot be appointed a Public Defender. However, having one of these offenses on your record may be harmful. Feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help you with your case.
See our Blogs on Petty Misdemeanors
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What is a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is any charge punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. (i.e. Careless Driving, Simple Assault, Prostitution, Theft, DUI, etc.) Unlike petty misdemeanors a misdemeanor is a crime and it is important to consult an attorney to discuss your case.
See our Blogs on Misdemeanors
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What is a gross misdemeanor?
A gross misdemeanor is any charge punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. (i.e. Assault, DUIs, Theft, Burglary, Arson, etc.)
See our Blogs on Gross Misdemeanors
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What is a felony?
A felony is any charge that is punishable by over 365 days.  (i.e. Criminal Vehicular Homicide, Identity Theft, DUI, Criminal Sexual Conduct, Burglary, Murder, etc.)  A felony is the most serious charge in the State of Minnesota.  If you are facing felony charges it is vital that you seek an attorney to discuss your rights 
See our Blogs on Felonies
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DUI/DWI Questions

Should I call an attorney before taking a test?
Yes. It is important that you know your rights before submitting to a test.  Contacting an attorney will give you the chance to better understand your rights and the tests you are being asked to take.  It is a crime to refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test indicated by the Implied Consent Advisory. If you refuse, you may be charged with a higher-level crime, and have greater ramifications as a result of a conviction, like a longer driver's license suspension. Contacting an attorney can give you the chance to better understand your rights and the tests you are asked to take
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Should I take the Intoxilyzer test?
The Intoxilyzer 5000 EN is a complicated instrument with many problems that can result from negligent operation.  If you take the Intoxilyzer it is important to have a knowledgeable attorney review the test results.  It is important to call an attorney to get all the possible information about what to do before, during, and after taking the test.
See our Blogs on DUI: Breath Tests
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Should I take a blood or urine test?
If you are asked to take a breath test, you do not get to choose another kind of test to be given by the police officer. If you are asked to take a blood test, you can elect to take a urine test and vice versa. Once you have taken the State's test you are entitled to a second test of your choosing and at your own costs. It is important that you clearly inform the jail personnel that you want to have a second test preformed.  Refusal to allow the second test may result in exclusion of the State's test as well.  When you call Ascheman Law, this is something we can help you with.
See our Blog on DUI: Blood Test
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What else should I do or not do when arrested for DWI?
Be cooperative and polite. Do not answer any questions other than your name. Do not give the police a statement. Call your lawyer as soon as possible..
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What is the Implied Consent Advisory?
This advisory informs you of your rights regarding the administration of the blood, breath, or urine tests for alcohol concentration.  It warns you that failure to submit to testing is a crime.
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What is an Implied Consent hearing?
An Implied Consent hearing is a hearing in which your attorney will challenge the revocation of your driver's license.  This is a civil hearing not connected to the criminal charges of a DUI.  There is a limited time to challenge the driver's license revocation so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
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What is a chemical assessment?
This is an evaluation where you meet with a trained professional who will talk with you and collateral sources about your chemical use, and determine what (if any) classes or treatment you might need.  Chemical assessments are commonly required with alcohol and other drug offenses.
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How long will I be without my driver's license?
This depends upon the charges and if you have priors. If you are charged with a simple first-time DWI with no priors and no aggravating factors, your license can be revoked for up to 90 days, and you may apply for a work permit after 15 days.  The length of revocation increases with prior offenses, increased alcohol concentration, or being underage.  Contact an attorney as soon as possible to get the exact revocation period. Remember there is a limited time to challenge the revocation of your license.
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Dealing with the Police

If I am called by a police officer to give a statement, what should I do?
Politely tell the officer that you will get back to him or her, and then immediately call your lawyer to discuss the situation. Never give a statement without discussing it with legal counsel and having him or her present.  
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If the police want permission to search my car or house, what should I do?
If the police do not have a search warrant, you have no obligation to let them search. Do not let them do so, even if you think you have nothing to hide; you never know what someone else may have left in your car or home that could be incriminating.  The purpose of a search warrant is for the police to show that they have an actual articulable reason to search your car or house. 
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Don't the police have to read me my Miranda rights?
The police do not have to read you your Miranda rights unless you are in custody and they are questioning you. It is best to assert your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. The police can continue to question you even if you have asserted your right to remain silent. It is up to you to remain silent.  If you are placed under arrest your only statement should be "I'm going to remain silent.  I would like to see a lawyer."
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Court Appearances

What is a bail hearing?
At a bail hearing, the court will discuss whether you will be released pending trial, whether bail will be required, and what the conditions of your release will be. Bail and conditions of release vary depending on the safety of the public, the severity of the crime, your criminal history, the potential risk of flight, your ties to the community, and other factors that may relate to whether you will appear for court in the future.
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What is an arraignment?
This is the first step that most people encounter is the Arraignment.  This is when the prosecutor, the state's attorney, will inform you or your attorney of the charges against you.  Generally this is the first opportunity to negotiate with the prosecution and see what penalties the state will be seeking.  It is also possible to resolve the case at this point by accepting a plea bargain.
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What is a pre-trial hearing?
After the Arraignment, meetings can be set up for Pretrial or Omnibus Hearings.  The Pretrial and Omnibus hearings are a chance to contest the evidence used against you before it can be presented in a trial.  An example of contesting the evidence could be to ask the court not to let the officer who pulled you over testify, because the officer didn't have the right to pull you over in the first place.  Based on the outcome of the Pretrial or Omnibus Hearing, each side will generally re-evaluate their prior offers.  If your attorney is successful at this stage, the state, or the court, may decide to dismiss the case.  If the Pretrial goes in favor of the state, the offers that were previously made might be off the table.  
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What is an omnibus hearing?
Your attorney may schedule an omnibus hearing to challenge any constitutional issue in your case (i.e. illegal stop, search, or statement), or to challenge whether there is enough evidence to go forward to trial. When this hearing takes place depends on the county. Some counties have the omnibus before the pre-trial and trial, while other counties do it the day of trial.
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What is a trial?
A trial is the final determination of your guilt or innocence. Depending on your charges you will have the option of a jury trial or a bench trial.  In a jury trial members of the community will be the ones deciding if they believe you committed the offense charged.  In a bench trial, the judge will be the person deciding if there is sufficient evidence to find that you committed the offense charged.  At this stage the prosecution will present the evidence that they have against you.  During that time, your attorney will have the chance to cross-examine each of the witnesses against you.  After the prosecution has presented it's case, you and your defense attorney will have the chance to call witnesses and present evidence on your behalf.  The prosecution will have the chance to cross-examine your witnesses.  At the end of the trial a verdict will be presented from the jury or judge on each of the charges.
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How many jurors do I get at trial?

  • If you are charged with a petty-misdemeanor, your case will be decided by a judge. This is called a court trial. 
  • If you are charged with a misdemeanor or gross-misdemeanor, you may have either a jury of 6 peers or a court trial. 
  • If you are charged with a felony, you may have either a jury of 12 peers or a court trial. 

You and your lawyer will decide together what is best for your case.

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What are my rights at trial?

  • At trial, you have the right to either remain silent or testify on your own behalf. The choice is up to you. If you decide not to testify, this is not an admission of guilt; no one can comment on the fact that you chose to stay silent. 
  • You are allowed to cross-examine the state's witnesses.
  • You have the right to subpoena your own witnesses. This needs to be done before the trial.
  • You are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 
  • The jury is required to render a unanimous verdict of "guilty" or "not guilty." If a unanimous verdict cannot be reached, the judge may declare a hung jury, and a new trial would then take place.

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How early do I need to be to court?
Unless told otherwise, show up at the time on your notice. Typically, nothing happens right at the designated time, so there is generally plenty of time to talk before your case is called.  
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Will I have to speak in court?
It depends on what kind of a hearing is scheduled. We will make sure you are aware of what will be asked of you with plenty of time to prepare.
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How long will court take?
Again, this depends on the type of appearance. Unless you are set for trial, plan to take half a day off for the appearance.  Many of the initial appearances may only take a few minutes before the court, but there are numerous delays as well as numerous cases to be heard.
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What should I wear to court?
Dress neat and clean. Don't feel obligated to go out and buy a suit.  Wearing slacks and a nice dress shirt will work fine, as will a dress or skirt for women.  Don't try to overdress, and don't wear clothes with slogans on them.
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What should I do when I get to court?
Unless instructed otherwise, wait outside the courtroom until your lawyer arrives.
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Questions Regarding Sentencing

What are possible outcomes to my case?
Through a trial or plea negotiations, there are several possible outcomes to your case.  The benefit of a plea negotiation is that you know what the sentence will be before admitting to the offense.  The possible outcomes for trial or plea negotiations are as follows:

  • Dismissal - all charges dismissed;
  • CWOP or CFD - Continued Without Prosecution or Continued For Dismissal. Your case is set aside and prosecution does not go forward for an agreed upon period of time. If certain conditions are met by the end of the time period, the case is dismissed;
  • Stay of Adjudication - A plea of guilty is offered to the court, but the court does not accept it. If all conditions are met at the end of the probation period, the case is dismissed;
  • Stay of Imposition - The court does not impose the full sentence but puts you on probation with certain terms. At the end of the probation, if all conditions are met, the conviction may be determined to be a lower level than charged, or (if negotiated) the case is vacated and dismissed;
  • Stay of Execution - This is when a sentence is imposed, but some or all terms are stayed (not given), and the defendant is placed on probation. The execution of the sentence will be stayed conditioned upon terms that are up to the court;
  • Diversion program - Certain crimes or defendants are eligible for a program that takes the defendant out of the court system and into a program designed to rehabilitate the first time offender. If all conditions are met, the case is dismissed when the defendant successfully completes the program.
  • Execution of the Sentence - This is when the judge imposes the sentence without any stayed conditions.

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Will I have to pay my fine right away?
Generally, you will be given a reasonable time to pay a fine.
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What is workhouse or work release?
When the defendant goes to local jail, but is able to get out during the day to go to work.
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What is EHM?
EHM stands for electric home monitoring. This allows the defendant to serve his or her time at home on an electronic anklet. Often work release is also allowed on EHM. You will generally need a basic landline for this, although some counties are introducing wireless EHM devices.
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What is STS? How is it different from community service?
STS stands for sentence to serve. This is a county run community service program where the defendant shows up and goes on a work crew. 8 hours is considered 1 day of STS.  It is sometimes referred to as "intensive community service."
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If I get sentenced to jail will I have to report that day?
It depends on the severity of your case. For more serious cases, you may be taken into custody after a finding of guilt. For less serious cases, the defendant is allowed to report at a later date, usually within a couple weeks. You should always discuss this with your lawyer so you know what to expect.
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Do I have to serve my jail time in the county where the crime was committed?
There is a difference between jail time, convictions that result in less than a year in custody, and prison time, convictions that result in more than a year in custody.  Jail time normally must be served in the county where the crime was committed. Sometimes your lawyer can ask for you to serve your time in another county, but that is conditioned upon approval of the court and room in that county, and you have to pay the costs of the jail.  Prison time will have you transfered to a State or Federal Correctional Facility such as the Minnesota Correctional Facility Shakopee or Minnesota Correctional Facility Faribault.
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What is a PSI or PSR?
PSI is a pre-sentence investigation. PSR is a pre-sentence report. This is done prior to sentencing in many cases, so that the judge has ample information with which to decide a reasonable sentence. You should always discuss with your lawyer how to handle your meeting with the person investigating and writing this report.
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What is "good time"?
Both in state and federal court there is a certain percentage of your jail time that is forgiven if you do not violate any of the jail facility rules. State court is 1/3 off your time, and federal court is 15 percent off your time.
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Collateral Consequences

Can I leave the State while the case is pending?
In most felony cases, you are not allowed to leave the state while the case is pending without court permission. In most non-felony cases, you are allowed to leave. To be safe, always check with your lawyer or your probation officer.
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Can I leave the State when my case is over?
In most felony charges, you are not allowed to leave the state while on probation without court or probation approval. In most non-felony cases, you are allowed to leave the state. To be safe, always check with your lawyer or your probation officer.
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Can I possess a gun while my case is pending?
Under federal law if you are under indictment (this includes a state charge by complaint) for a felony, you may not possess a gun until you are no longer under indictment.
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Can I possess a gun after my case is over?
All felony convictions and non-felony convictions of domestic assault prohibit the possession of a gun. The length of time varies so you should consult your lawyer.
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Am I required to register as a sex offender?
Many charges of a sexual nature require the defendant to register as a sex offender. Consult your lawyer for which crimes have such requirements and for the length of time you are required to report.
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Will I lose my driver's license?
Many offenses that are traffic related require a revocation, suspension, and/or cancellation of your driver's license. Contact your lawyer immediately after you have had contact with the authorities involving a traffic offense, even if you have not yet received criminal charges. There are time limits to challenging the revocation of your driver's license.
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Will I lose my job?
It depends on your job. Many professional positions that require licensure may be affected by certain convictions. You should discuss with your lawyer what you do for a living, so that it can be determined if your employment will be affected.
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What is forfeiture?
Forfeiture is when the state takes away property used in the commission of a crime or that was purchased with the proceeds of a crime. If you have property taken and are given a forfeiture notice, contact your lawyer immediately as there are strict time constraints for challenging the forfeiture.
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Will I be deported or can I become a citizen?
Deportation is one of the most serious collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. Conviction of a felony may trigger deportation and certain other non-felonies will as well. Discuss your immigration status with your lawyer who will likely consult with an expert in the field of immigration to determine the best possible resolution of your case that will be less likely to lead to immigration consequences.
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Can I go to Canada and other foreign countries?
Every country has different rules about allowing those with criminal convictions into their country. It is best to contact the American Consulate in the country you are planning to visit well in advance of your visit. Canada, for example, will not allow you into the country with a criminal conviction such as a misdemeanor DUI. There are ways to get an exemption from the Canadian government, but it is complicated and you should look into this long before attempting to cross the border into Canada.
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