Patrick Arendt Criminal Defense, SE Minnesota
Rochester MN DWI lawyer


General Questions | DWI Information

General Questions

What is the difference between a Petty Misdemeanor, Misdemeanor, Gross Misdemeanor, and Felony?

Petty Misdemeanors:  Examples of Petty Misdemeanors include minor traffic violations such as parking tickets and speeding. If convicted of a Petty Misdemeanor, you face a monetary fine of up to $300.00.

Misdemeanors:  Examples of Misdemeanors include 4th Degree DWI, 5th Degree Assault, and Disorderly Conduct.  If convicted of a Misdemeanor, you face a maximum of 90 days in jail and/or a monetary fine of up to $1,000.00. 

Gross Misdemeanors:  Examples of Gross Misdemeanors include repeat DWI and theft between $250.00 - $500.00.  If convicted of a Gross Misdemeanor, you face a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or a monetary fine of up to $3,000.00.

Felonies:  Examples of Felonies include drug offenses, murder, aggravated assault, four-time DWI offenders (within ten years), and most sexual assault cases.  If convicted of a Felony, you face prison time in excess of 1 year and potentially a monetary fine of several thousand dollars.

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If I am convicted of an offense, will my sentence include requirements in addition to jail time and/or a fine?

Yes.  Depending on the offense, you may also be placed on probation and be required to complete an alcohol assessment, domestic violence inventory, anger management class, etc.

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What legal steps will I have to go through?

Petty Misdemeanors are relatively simple and involve an arraignment and a court trial, without the right to a jury.  If you contest the case, your attorney may file a waiver so you do not have to appear at the trial.  Crimes such as misdemeanors, Gross Misdemeanors, and Felonies typically involve 3 steps:  arraignment, pretrial hearing, and trial.

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What is an Arraignment?

An arraignment is typically the criminal defendant’s first appearance in court where charges are formally read, a plea of not guilty or guilty may be given, conditions of release are reviewed and future court dates are set.

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What is bail and how does it work?

Bail is a monetary deposit made with the court to insure the future appearance of a criminal defendant.  Once the judge sets bail and it is provided to the court, you will be released.  If you are released on your own recognizance and without requiring bail, you are making the promise to appear for all future court hearings.  In the case of a very serious crime, bail may be set very high or may even be denied.  Once you are released on bail, you must attend all subsequent court hearings or risk having your bail forfeited.  If you are helping out a friend or loved one by putting up money or collateral (your house or your car) for their bail, you risk losing it if that person does not appear in court.

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What happens at the Pretrial Hearing?

Depending upon the severity of the offense, the Pretrial Hearing deals with evidence (police reports, laboratory reports, witness lists, statements, etc.) that support the charges against you.  During this stage, you may enter a plea and consider settlement offers.  Often times, many cases are settled during the pretrial stage.  If your case is not settled, a “bench trial”, “jury trial”, or “plea hearing” will be scheduled.

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What happens during the Trial?

If your case has not been settled and makes it to trial, Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor offenses provide you with the right to have a six-person jury or a court trial.  Felony cases require a twelve-person jury or a court trial.  Regardless of the offense, you have the choice of having a judge or jury trial.  During the trial, the Prosecutor and your defense attorney will present the evidence, the judge or jury will determine the verdict and you will either be released or sentenced.

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Patrick Arendt Criminal Defense
828 7th Street NW
Rochester, MN  55901

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