If you face drug charges in Minnesota, you have probably already had to face a judge once. After your arrest, you typically see a judge during your arraignment, when they inform you of the charges the state intends to bring against you. You may have been able to secure release pending your trial.
Now, you have questions about what will happen in the immediate future. The charges against you could be anything from a first-degree controlled substances offense that means up to 30 years in prison to a fifth-degree charge with a maximum sentence of five years. What will happen next?
YOU WILL LIKELY FACE A LONG WAIT FOR TRIAL
While both federal rules and state law promise the right to a speedy trial, most defendants find themselves waiting months or longer than a year before they get to present their side of the story in court.
You can make use of that time to build a defense. You have the right of discovery, which means that the prosecution must provide you access to the evidence they intend to use against you. Analyzing that evidence and other state documents can help you develop a defense strategy.
YOU WILL HAVE TO BE PRESENT DURING CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS
When the trial finally begins, you will have to be there for every bit of evidence and testimony, no matter how tedious the process is. There will be hearings to select a jury, followed by the actual trial.
Ideally, you will have spent some time focusing not just on how to defend yourself but also on how to present yourself to the court. Everyone in the room, from the judge to individual jurors, will look at your appearance and behavior during the trial. You need to prepare yourself to be present, to remain calm and to show the best side of yourself to those who get to decide your future.
LEARNING THE VERDICT OF THE JURY MAY NOT BE THE END OF YOUR CASE
Court proceedings typically follow a specific formula. The prosecutor and the defense will try to build their own narrative about what occurred and convince the judge and jury that their version of events is the one closer to the truth. Once both sides have presented their evidence and testimony, the jury then begins deliberation, which can take less than an hour but may also take multiple days.
When the jury does come back, provided they reach the unanimous verdict, they will announce whether the person is guilty or not. If they cannot reach a unanimous verdict, the results may be a mistrial that requires you to go through court proceedings a second time.
Even if the jury does find you guilty, there may still be appeals available to you. There may also be options during the following sentencing process that can help you avoid the worst consequences. The better the support you have and the sooner you start planning a defense against drug charges, the more time you will have to find a solution that works for your case.