Minot Criminal Defense Attorneys
Your Legal Rights, Freedom, and Future – Criminal Defense Attorneys Serving Clients in Ward County
Whether you have learned that you are the target of an investigation by a law enforcement agency or you have been formally arrested, the prospect of a criminal conviction can turn your life upside down. While the situation can seem daunting, you have important rights that should be immediately asserted. These rights include your right to remain silent, right to an attorney, and right to deny consent to a search. Many people make the mistake of making their situation worse by trying to “cooperate” rather than contacting an experienced Minot criminal defense lawyer who can safeguard their interests against overzealous law enforcement officers and prosecutors.
Although North Dakota law enforcement agencies often pursue investigations aggressively, our criminal defense attorneys at Sand Law, PLLC have successfully prevented formal charges from being filed when we are retained during the investigative process by narrowing the breadth of the investigation. We are prepared to limit the scope of interrogations, oppose unreasonable search and seizures, expose suggestive lineups, and otherwise ensure our clients receive the fullest protection of their rights under state and federal law.
How Can Our Ward County Criminal Defense Attorneys Help You?
Our lawyers are not here to pass judgement. Instead, our law firm is committed to the principle that every person accused of a crime deserves a zealous defense based on all our expertise, resources, and experience. When you are arrested by state or federal law enforcement officers or agents, law enforcement and prosecutors have almost limitless financial resources to use when seeking a conviction.
Sand Law’s Defense Strategy
Our North Dakota criminal defense attorneys pursue effective defense strategies and positive outcomes that might include:
- Seeking exclusion of illegally obtained evidence
- Revealing distorted facts or outright lies by witnesses (including the so-called victim) and the police
- Pursuing strategies for obtaining a dismissal of the charges or an acquittal following trial
- Exploring options for a charge or sentencing reduction, diversion, drug court, probation or other forms of alternative sentencing
- Working with experts in ballistics, toxicology, pathology, psychiatry, and other areas of specialized knowledge
- Undertaking a thorough investigation that might include the use of professional forensic investigators
- Negotiating with the prosecutor to positively affect the initial charging decision in terms of the number or seriousness of charges to impact the parameters of the actual charged offenses and plea offers (when retained prior to formal charges)
Why Clients Trust Our Minot Criminal Defense Attorneys to Fight for Their Future
Our criminal defense attorneys tenaciously fight for the rights, liberty, and future of our clients. We are litigators who recognize that the adverse impact of a criminal conviction lasts far beyond formal sentencing terms like jail or prison time, fines, probation, loss of driving privileges, mandatory counseling/classes, and more. A criminal record can impact employment opportunities, eligibility for occupational or professional licensing, academic pursuits, loan applications, immigration privileges, constitutional rights, and other facets of people’s lives.
The long-term prospect of facing criminal charges in North Dakota can be frightening. Aside from the impact of formal sentencing, the consequences of a conviction of a criminal offense can last long after you have satisfied all the terms of your probation. For example, a criminal conviction can interfere with loan eligibility, employment prospects, promotions, professional licensing, housing options, immigration privileges, and more.
Our clients select us to fight for their future because of our reputation for fiercely taking on prosecutors, exposing weaknesses in the State’s case, exploiting improper law enforcement conduct, and seeking the best possible outcome for our clients. Some of the accolades, honors, and ratings that reflect our commitment to striving for exemplary results and keeping clients informed throughout the process include:
- Recognized as Great Plains Super Lawyers
- Highest “Preeminent AV” Rating from Martindale-Hubbell Based on Peer Review
- “Superb” Avg. Rating by AVVO (Organization Rating All Attorneys in the U.S.)
- Numerous Five Star Reviews on Legal Portals and Websites That Provide Attorney Ratings
- Classification as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers
- Near Perfect Rating Based on Peer Review from Martindale-Hubbell (4.9 out of 5.0)
Proven Defense Against Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Serious Traffic Offenses in Ward County, ND
Our lawyers have successfully represented many people charged with infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies in state and federal courts throughout Ward County. Some of the crimes we handle include the following:
- Driving While Impaired (DWI)/Driving While Under the Influence (DUI)
- Drug Offenses and Controlled Substances
- Theft Offenses (e.g. Burglary, Shoplifting, Theft)
- White Collar Offenses (Fraud, Embezzlement, Money Laundering)
- Juvenile Offenses
- Violent Crimes (Robbery, Homicide, Murder, Manslaughter)
- Identity Theft
- Weapons Charges
- Sex Crimes (e.g. Sexual Abuse, Rape, Prostitution)
- Computer Crimes
- Crimes Against Children (Child Porn, Sexual Abuse)
- Probation Violations
- Domestic Violence
- Serious Driving Violations (Driving Under Suspension, Reckless Driving)
Stages of the Criminal Prosecution Process
It is important to understand the different stages of a criminal prosecution and the various players involved.
Most charges originate with a law enforcement agency, such as the local police department or the county sheriff’s office. The law enforcement agency may arrest a person or issue a citation which starts the process. Then, the case is handed off to the prosecutor. Most often, the prosecutor will be from the State’s Attorney’s Office. In Minot, this will be the Ward County State’s Attorney. If the alleged crime is federal, the prosecutor will be from the office of the United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota. Ultimately, the decision to press charges is solely in the hands of the prosecutor – not the hands of law enforcement or the alleged victim. Regardless of what the citation from the police or the initial arrest report might say, the prosecutor will choose the actual offense to charge.
Notably, the idea that the alleged victim of the crime has the choice to “press charges” is largely a myth. All criminal cases are set up as the “State v. the Defendant”. The cooperation of the victim in prosecuting the crime is not necessary for the state to proceed with the case. This is especially true in charges of domestic violence, where the prosecutor often moves forward with the case even when the alleged victim is not interested in pursuing charges. Likewise, the initial interaction with law enforcement that led to the arrest or citation often has very little impact on the disposition of the case.
The upside of this system, known as prosecutorial discretion, is that it creates room for a defense attorney to work with the prosecutor starting before charges are formally filed and continuing throughout the process.
What should I do if I’m arrested on criminal charges?
Exercise Your Miranda Rights and Keep Quiet
There is a reason why law enforcement is required to inform you of your right to remain silent. What you say, regardless of how seemingly innocuous it may seem at the time, can play a role in an upcoming trial. As a rule of thumb, remain silent and don’t answer any questions. Instead, simply ask to speak to a lawyer. Law enforcement knows that any small detail can contribute to your prosecution. Therefore, don’t give prosecutors ammunition to use against you.
Keep Records of Everything You Remember About Your Arrest
Make sure that you take note of all the details relating to your arrest. Your legal defense will need all the help it can get and even the smallest detail can prove to be helpful. Make sure you take note of exactly how you were arrested, what law enforcement said to you, witnesses to your arrest, and exactly what you were charged with at the moment of your arrest.
Seek Legal Representation As Soon as Possible
One of the immediate advantages of securing defense representation promptly is that it changes the approach taken by the prosecutor. As mentioned earlier, the state is used to their position as the giant in the room with overwhelming resources and experience. The state takes advantage of most people’s unfamiliarity with the legal system to earn easy “wins.” However, competent representation by a criminal defense attorney safeguards that the prosecution will respect your rights and deal with you on a fair footing.
Also, it’s important to realize that most criminal charges involve multiple court appearances over the course of many months. From the initial appearance where the defendant must simply enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, through evidentiary hearings and multiple motions, a criminal proceeding can eat up a massive amount of time. This is another area where the state relies on its advantage: the prosecutor does not need to miss work and travel to make court appearances. The state uses this pressure to compel many people to take less-than-ideal plea agreements. With proficient criminal defense representation from Sand Law, you will likely be able to waive many of the preliminary court appearances and you will never be pressured to take a deal that is anything less than you deserve.
Effective Strategies for DUI/DWI and Criminal Defense in North Dakota
Our experienced criminal defense lawyers don’t rely on investigations conducted by law enforcement officers and agencies. Rather, we conduct our own independent investigation of the facts once you retain our office. We work with skilled private investigators, forensic specialists, and other knowledgeable experts.
Our attorneys analyze the government’s discovery, interview witnesses (including exploring grounds to lie/bias), expose law enforcement misconduct and violations of our client’s rights, seek to exclude unlawfully obtained evidence, and challenge the prosecutor’s evidence to prove every element of a charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
We have the skill and expertise to provide an effective defense during all phases of the criminal process. From pre-charge investigations through trial and post-judgement proceedings, such as appeals.
When we are retained prior to formal charges being filed, we often expose weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, Miranda violations, unreasonable searches, and other inappropriate conduct by law enforcement. Our aggressive approach at this early stage can influence decisions regarding the severity and number of criminal charges.
Because the initial charges will set parameters for plea negotiations, early intervention can result in more favorable plea offers. Depending on your circumstances, we may be able to persuade the prosecutor not to pursue the case or agree to diversion.
While a disposition is reached in most criminal cases through plea negotiations prior to trial, our Minot criminal defense lawyers thoroughly prepare cases with an eye toward trial. We approach cases looking for the best strategy to get a case dismissed or to prevail at trial. We also know that thorough preparation provides the strongest incentive for prosecutors to agree to favorable reductions in charges, lenient sentencing, probation, or other alternate forms of sentencing that can keep you out of jail or prison and mitigate the adverse consequences of a criminal prosecution.
North Dakota Crimes by Class and Sentences
Depending on the crime you’re being tried for, you’ll either be facing a misdemeanor charge or a felony charge. Based on the crime and whether it’s classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, there are different classifications with different penalties and sentencing options.
North Dakota Misdemeanor Crimes
As long as the maximum imprisonment for the crime is no more than 360 days or one year’s time, the crime is classified as a misdemeanor. However, if a crime is committed that has a penalty longer than one year imprisonment, it’s not a misdemeanor, it’s a felony.
Misdemeanors are classified by class as follows:
- A misdemeanors: A maximum penalty of 360 days of imprisonment and up to a $3,000 fine.
- B misdemeanors: A maximum penalty of 30 days of imprisonment and up to a $1,500 fine.
- Infraction: Punishable only by a fine of up to $1,500. If three infractions are committed within one year, the charge may change to a class B misdemeanor.
Sentencing Options and Alternatives
A judge may impose a variety of different sentences upon the defendant, including:
- Imprisonment in a county jail or correctional center
- Payment of fees and fines
- Compensation to the victim
- Restoration of property damage
- Participation in counseling or treatment
- Supervised or unsupervised probation
North Dakota Felony Crimes
North Dakota and many other states separate misdemeanor offenses and felony offenses based on the maximum penalty allowed under the law. In North Dakota, a misdemeanor has a maximum possible sentence of one year of imprisonment. Therefore, any crime with a penalty above one year of imprisonment is a felony.
Felonies are classified by class as follows:
- AA felonies: Punishable by up to a life in prison. You may be subject to parole. For example, premeditated murder and continuous sexual abuse of a child.
- A felonies: A maximum punishment of a $20,000 fine and 20 years imprisonment. For example, sex trafficking of an adult and murder in the heat of passion.
- B felonies: A maximum punishment of a $20,000 fine and 10 years of imprisonment. For example, manslaughter, armed robbery, and sexual imposition.
- C felonies: A maximum punishment of five years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. For example, negligent homicide and perjury.
Sentencing Options and Alternatives
There are many different sentencing options. And the way that you’re sentenced is ultimately up to the judge. Nonetheless, your attorney can argue a better sentence for you. The most common felony sentencing options and alternatives include:
- Payment of fines or fees
- Restoration to damaged property
- A treatment program or institution
The sentence will usually include imprisonment and another form of sentencing. Then, the judge will either “execute or stay” the prison sentence. If the prison sentence is executed, this means that the defendant will go to prison. However, if it’s stayed, the prison sentence will be suspended and the defendant will have the opportunity to serve the sentence through probation.
Speak to a Minot Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Sand Law’s aggressive criminal defense attorneys level the playing field and fight so that you receive the full protection of your constitutional rights. Our reputation in Ward County and across the state often allows us to work with the prosecuting attorney to reduce or even dismiss charges early in the judicial process. Whatever situation you are facing, do not let the state overwhelm you.
Our criminal defense law firm fiercely represents clients in Minot criminal cases and other communities throughout Ward County, such as:
- Des Lacs
We also represent clients in smaller unincorporated areas and townships in Ward County. If you or someone close to you is the target of a criminal investigation or the subject of an arrest, we offer you the opportunity to speak with one of our seasoned North Dakota criminal defense lawyers at Sand Law, PLLC. Our goal is to fight for your future, freedom, reputation, and rights, so call Sand Law, PLLC today at (701) 609-1510 or email us for a free, confidential review of your pending criminal charges.