First Appearance (Rule 5)

The defendant is formally notified of the charges filed, advised of his or her rights, and bail is set. If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, a public defender is appointed by the court to represent the defendant. The pre-trial and trial dates are set.

Omnibus / Pre-Trial (Rule 8)

At this hearing, the judge decides if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. If the defendant pleads guilty, he or she will proceed directly to sentencing. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case proceeds to trial. Often a plea agreement is discussed at this time.

Contested Omnibus (Rasmussen)

If the defense attorney raises questions regarding legal issues on the case, this hearing may be scheduled. The judge may hear oral testimony and may request written arguments from both attorneys.


At the trial, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney present their case to a judge or jury. Both sides may call witnesses to testify. At the end of a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


If the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty following a trial, the judge will order a pre-sentence investigation (PSI). The PSI will include the defendant’s criminal history and personal background. The individual conducting the PSI (usually a probation officer), may contact the victim of the crime to determine how they have been impacted by the defendant’s actions. The PSI enables the judge to learn more about the defendant so that he or she is better able to impose the proper sentence.

After the PSI has been completed, the defendant comes before the judge for sentencing. The judge can only impose a sentence that falls within the boundaries of state law or the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. Keeping those boundaries in mind, and weighing all the facts of the case, the judge then sentences the defendant.

Note: This is the standard process. Additional hearings may be scheduled at the request of either party.