You never thought that you'd be facing charges and heading toward a criminal trial, but that's what could happen thanks to the prosecutor's determination. Now, you just want to know what to expect. Is a trial really like what you see on television? Should you worry about what you look like when you go in?
In your case, it may be likely that you'll be convicted. Your attorney may even tell you that the prosecution has a strong case against you.
You're accused of a crime, and you want to know that your defense is going to be strong. It's always in your best interest to work with a team that knows the law and how to watch out for violations of your rights. If errors take place during the trial's proceedings, your attorney may ask the judge to declare a mistrial.
There are long-term penalties associated with federal convictions that go way beyond fines and prison sentences. Many government officials argue that "collateral consequences" are imposed on ex-convicts for public safety reasons. Policy reformists cite this as the reason for high recidivism rates among these individuals. If you're facing federal charges, then you need to know what the long-term implications of being branded a felon are.
Some Minnesota residents have raised serious concerns about the impact of racial bias on criminal convictions and sentencing. Studies have shown that black defendants face disproportionately longer sentences and may be more likely to remain in pretrial detention. Some researchers have attributed this ongoing issue to implicit racial bias, when jurors or judges do not act consciously to perpetrate racial discrimination but rely on stereotypes about danger and criminality when evaluating a case. Other issues about race may also arise in the course of a case, including the unreliability of cross-racial witness identifications.
Minnesota residents may or may not be aware that analogs of fentanyl were classified as Schedule 1 drugs in an emergency order that was issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration. That emergency order, which made it easier for the DEA to seize fentanyl analogs and investigate people trafficking in these drugs, is scheduled to expire on Feb. 6.
Criminal justice reform advocates in Minnesota have drawn attention to the racial disparities that persist across the country in imprisonment rates and sentencing. According to a study conducted by the Council on Criminal Justice, these racial gaps have decreased over the past 16 years. The council is a non-partisan organization that includes experts from different perspectives on criminal justice, including reform advocates, government officials and police representatives. At the same time that the study highlights positive outcomes, it also raises concerns about the persistence of serious racial gaps.
People assume that judges strive to act in an objective and deliberative manner when presiding over courts in Minnesota. However, neuroscience and trends in judicial decisions suggest otherwise. Unconscious biases held by judges could make them issue unfair rulings even when they believe that they are acting fairly.
In Minnesota and throughout the country, there is an ongoing debate about accepting testimony from police officers with histories of misconduct. It was recently revealed that officers in Lake County, Florida, were making racist comments on a Facebook page. A letter from a variety of progressive groups was sent to the Florida state attorney asking that officers that make such comments not be called to testify at trial.
Those who are currently serving time in Minnesota prisons may be eligible for an early release because of the First Step Act. Beginning on July 19, 3,100 inmates will be released in an effort to comply with the law. Of those who are going to be released soon, about 900 will need to resolve immigration or other local charges. The Department of Homeland Security and other state agencies have discretion as to what happens to them.