The initial court appearance for a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor charge is called an arraignment hearing. At the arraignment hearing, the defendant is advised of his or her legal rights, may apply for a public defender and may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
The initial court appearance for a gross misdemeanor or felony charge is called an initial appearance, first appearance, or Rule 5 hearing. The defendant is advised of his or her legal rights and is advised of the charge or charges. The defendant may apply for a public defender. However, no plea is taken from the defendant.
Initial Court Appearances
A defendant is sentenced after pleading guilty or being found guilty by the judge or jury. Petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor sentences are often given at the time a defendant pleads guilty. A judge has discretion regarding the sentence imposed and usually bases the sentence on a combination of the seriousness of the offense and the defendant's criminal history. Sentences for felony level charges are often set on a date after the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty. Prior to sentencing, a Pre-Sentence Investigation is completed by Community Corrections and recommendations are made to the judge regarding the sentenced to be imposed. Felony sentences are governed by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.
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