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Omnibus Hearing in Minnesota

Previously, I talked about what happens at a first appearance in a criminal case in Minnesota.  So, what happens at the second appearance — typically called the omnibus hearing or pretrial hearing?  Here is some general information about what to expect.

Whether your case is a DWI, assault, drugs, prostitution, or other crime, hopefully you have a good Minnesota criminal defense lawyer by the omnibus hearing.  The omnibus hearing is the time when probable cause is determined, pretrial challenges are heard, and trial preparations are made.  Let’s take a look at each of these items:

Probable Cause

In order to continue prosecuting the criminal matter, the State needs to show that it has probable cause that the defendant committed a crime.  It’s a not  a high standard — basically, just alleging that circumstances exist to suggest the defendant committed a crime.  Typically, a challenge to probable cause can be successful if the State is lacking evidence on a particular element or if evidence exists that shows the defendant is innocent.

Pretrial Challenges

The exact pretrial challenges vary from case to case, but typically they include constitutional violations and discovery requests.  For example, any evidence obtained from an illegal search or seizure by the police can be excluded.  In some cases, like DWIs, the pretrial challenges are where cases are often won or lost.  However, in most cases, the pretrial challenges shape what evidence will be admitted at trial.

Preparation for Trial

Finally, the omnibus hearing is a chance for the parties negotiate and see if the case will be resolved or moving to trial.  If the case is resolved, a plea will often be entered at the hearing.  However, if the case is not resolved, a trial date will be set and each side begins preparations for trying the case before a judge or jury.

I’ll give a brief overview of a criminal trial in Minnesota in a future post.