Anoka and Hennepin County Differences in Criminal Court
June 16, 2022
There are many differences in criminal cases docketed in Hennepin and Anoka Counties. Anoka and Hennepin Counties both have a large volume of criminal cases which makes the calendars quite active. Each city has a prosecutor that is hired by the city to handle the prosecutorial duties of the city. Some cities hire a law firm with several attorneys that handle their cases while other cities hire a single person. The prosecutor represents the city in the case against the defendant for all petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases. The county attorney’s office in each respective county represent the county in felony cases.
It is critical to be familiar with the prosecutors in the counties. Every person has their own idiosyncrasies and knowing these is advantageous. For instance, if a prosecutor is very strict with regards to a certain type of criminal offense it is important to be as proactive as possible to persuade that prosecutor that leniency is in order.
Prosecutors vary in both counties pertaining to types of cases (DUI’s, Assaults, Thefts, etc.) and their desire to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
Hennepin County has well over 50 judges and they all differ as to how they approach their calendars and how strict they are with regards to sentencing. Anoka County has 16 judges and they are extremely diverse.
The process in each county is similar. Cases are scheduled for a mass start time and the judge is called out onto the bench when cases are ready to be called. In criminal courts for misdemeanor offenses there are three potential appearances. A first appearance or arraignment, a pre-trial hearing, and a jury trial date.
Hennepin County has three courthouses, Downtown in the Hennepin County Government Center, Division 2 in Brooklyn Center and Division 3 in Minnetonka. Where your offense occurs will determine which courthouse you are scheduled to appear. For instance, if your offense happened in the City of Minneapolis your case will be heard downtown. If your case occurred in Brooklyn Park your case will be heard in the Brooklyn Center Courthouse on Shingle Creek Parkway. Anoka County has one courthouse located on Main Street of Anoka between 3rd and 4th Avenues. All cases from all cities are heard in this courthouse.
In Hennepin County criminal court for misdemeanor offenses there are three potential appearances. A first appearance or arraignment, a pre-trial hearing, and a jury trial date. In Anoka County arraignments for petty misdemeanors and misdemeanor cases are heard at 1:00 p.m. while in Hennepin County they are at 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. and they have the same three potential appearances. Petty Misdemeanors only have a first appearance and jury trial.
In Hennepin County for felony cases that are out of custody and appear due to receiving a Summons and Complaint in the mail the first appearance is at the Public Safety Facility (PSF) and conditions of release are determined at that time and a future court date is given for a pre-trial hearing. The Prosecutor of the defendant’s case is not present at this hearing.
Since there are over 65 judges in Hennepin County there is a wide disparity between judge A and judge Z. It is important to have an attorney who is familiar with the judges in the respective county you are charged in since the judges differ as to how they approach their calendars and how strict they are with regards to motions, hearings and sentencing. Most judges in Hennepin County are receptive to alternative types of sentencing (Electronic Home Monitoring, Sentence to Service, Work Release).
For DUI cases Hennepin County employs a fast track system. Driving Under the Influence charges affect the defendant in two ways: criminal charges and a driver’s license revocation. These are two separate processes. To win a DUI case you must get the criminal case reduced or dismissed and you must challenge your driver’s license revocation and have a judge rescind the revocation. In Hennepin County, you can have your driver’s license temporarily reinstated during the pendency of the criminal case, but the license revocation hearing is not set until the criminal case is concluded. This makes it imperative to review your defenses prior to challenging your license revocation since there is a substantial filing fee to challenge the revocation.
Anoka County has one courthouse located on Main Street of Anoka between 3rd and 4th Avenues. All cases from all cities are heard in this courthouse. In Anoka County arraignments for petty misdemeanors and misdemeanor cases are heard at 1:00 p.m. and they have the same three potential appearances of a first appearance or arraignment, Pre-Trial Hearing and jury trial. Petty Misdemeanors only have a first appearance and jury trial.
Gross Misdemeanor arraignment cases are heard at 8:30 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. in Anoka County and Felony arraignments are at 1:00 p.m. In Anoka County. In Anoka County, however, these cases have a Rule 5, Rule 8, Omnibus, Contested Omnibus, Pre-Trial hearing and Jury Trial dates.
Rule 5 – Arraignment and Identification
Rule 8 – Bail Hearing
Omnibus – Opportunity to state constitutional or evidentiary issues
Contested Omnibus – Hearing on issues
Pre-Trial Hearing – Time to limit issues for trial and discuss resolution.
Jury Trial – Present evidence and testimony to jury.
In Anoka County if you are out of custody and summoned to court on a felony case your case will be heard in C-300 of the Anoka County Government Center. At that court date you will be given a chance to retain an attorney. Conditions of release and future court dates will be discussed. The prosecutor for your case is likely present.
For DUI cases Anoka County proceeds based on whether the case is a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony. Anoka does not employ a fast track system. Driving Under the Influence charges are two separate procedures: a criminal charge and a driver’s license revocation. To win a DUI case you must get the criminal case reduced or dismissed and you must challenge your driver’s license revocation and have a judge rescind the revocation. It is imperative to review your defenses prior to challenging your license revocation and criminal case. There is a substantial filing fee to challenge your license revocation so that must be considered before filing.
Anoka County has 16 judges and they are extremely diverse. There is a huge difference between Judge A and Judge Z. The Judges all differ as to how they approach their calendars, how receptive they are to alternative sentencing (Electronic Home Monitoring, Community Service) and how strict they are with regards to sentencing.
Anoka County is very exacting and stern with regards to alcohol and drug offenses and assault charges. Anoka County oftentimes requires a Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) before proceeding to sentencing. This allows probation to get involved prior to sentencing and makes it imperative to have an attorney so you are prepared for potential consequences.
The 10th Judicial District as a whole, which contains Anoka County, Sherburne County, Wright County, Isanti County, Chisago County and Kanabec County is historically known for being very punitive and tough with regards to sentencing of criminal cases.
Contacting an attorney immediately when you have been charged with a crime or had your license revoked is critical. Always remember you have the right to remain silent when talking with an officer and if you give up that right it can be used against you.
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