You have been identified by the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office (MCAO) as the victim of, or witness to, a crime. The MCAO prosecutes misdemeanor and gross-misdemeanor crimes committed by adults that occur in the city of Minneapolis. This brochure is meant to help you understand the legal course that your case may take.
After someone is arrested or cited for a crime, the State of Minnesota, as represented by the local prosecuting office (in this case the MCAO), decides on how to best proceed with the case. Crime victims do not "press charges," "drop charges," and do not independently determine the outcome of a case. What victims and witnesses have to say about the case, however, is often very critical to the process in order to determine the most appropriate resolution.
After a person has been charged with a crime, the first court appearance is called an arraignment. If the person is in custody (jail), bail is often set or release is granted with certain conditions. Sometimes at this first appearance the case is resolved, either through a plea agreement (plea of guilty to a charge in exchange for certain penalties and conditions, such as probation and/or jail) or a dismissal. Again, only the prosecutor or the judge may dismiss a case. Prior to the arraignment, a victim may be contacted by a Victim/Witness Assistant in order to obtain more details about the incident and any outcome they would like to see, such as receiving restitution (reimbursement) for out of pocket expenses resulting from the crime or a no contact order. Victims may request that the MCAO notify them of any plea agreement before it becomes final. If the case is not resolved at the arraignment, the case goes on to a pretrial conference (also known as a preliminary hearing).
At the pretrial, the person charged with a crime ( defendant), the judge, the prosecutor, and defense attorney again may attempt to resolve the case in a way that the parties feel is fair and just. It is possible that a victim may receive a telephone call at this time if they have not previously provided case input. If the case does not resolve at this point, it may be set for trial.
Before the trial, you will likely receive a subpoena requiring you to appear in order to provide evidence. Your subpoena lists the time and location of the trial, and a contact person. If you have questions about the subpoena and what it means, or want to provide additional information about the case; please contact the person listed on the subpoena as soon as possible. Remember that a subpoena is a court order and you should comply with its instructions. While your subpoena will tell you to come to court, most cases set for trial resolve that day without requiring actual testimony. Very often, just having our victims and witnesses present in court helps us to resolve the case with a plea of guilty. If the case is not resolved at this point however, the prosecutor or their staff will discuss the trial process with you.
At any point in this series of events, if a defendant does not appear in court as ordered, a bench warrant may be issued for him or her. Once the warrant is returned (the defendant is picked up by the police or turns him or herself in), the process starts over. It is important that you notify us of changes in your address or telephone number so that we may keep you informed of the status of the case and any changes in court dates.
You are not required to attend any of the court hearings unless you receive a subpoena to do so. The hearings are open to the public and you are welcome to attend even if not subpoenaed.
If you have not been contacted by our office and feel that you have important information to provide, please call (612) 673-2010 and ask to speak to the Victim/Witness Assistant handling the case.
Last updated Sep. 27, 2011