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Being Arrested


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. Usuaslly, 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 that the law says people should not do, or they may be punished by imprisonment and/or a fine. A felony crime in Minnesota is punished by imprisonment for a period of at least one year. A gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor crime is punished by a fine or imprisonment of not more than 90 days. 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 don't get it back and it doesn't 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 Center. NOTE: 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.


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