Criminal Procedures

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A defendant is required to personally appear in court at the initial appearance for the purpose of entering a plea. Before entering the court room, the defendant must check in at the Clerk’s office to make sure you are scheduled for court. If you are not scheduled for court we will put you on the schedule. Criminal offenses include violations such as: driving under the influence, driving under suspension/revocation, leaving the scene of an accident, simple assault, disorderly conduct, or any offense with a maximum penalty of $1,500 fine and 30 days in jail, with the exception of Theft and Destruction of Public Property, which has a maximum penalty of $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail. See the bond schedule for a detailed list of criminal offenses and their bond amounts.

There are minimum and mandatory penalties required by state law for the offenses of driving under the influence, certain driving under suspension/revocation offenses and no liability insurance.
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The following information relates specifically to criminal offenses.

If you plea guilty: You will be asked to read a list of the rights that you will be giving up by pleading guilty and verify by signature that you understand this. The judge will impose sentence that day if your guilty plea is accepted.

Plea of not guilty: After a not guilty plea is entered, a trial date is set in this court. Papers will be given to you with your date and time for trial, and the last day to request a jury trial and file pre-trial motions. You will also be given information on how to contact the City Prosecutor to request discovery or to discuss your case.

Procedure at trial: On the date set for trial both the City of Grand Forks and the defendant may present their witnesses and any evidence they have to offer. Each side is given the opportunity to cross examine the other sides witnesses. In a criminal case the defendant cannot be compelled to testify, or to present any evidence. If the defendant chooses to testify, the prosecutor may cross examine the defendant.

If you fail to appear for trial, any bond posted will be forfeited, the charges will remain, a failure to appear will be charged, and a warrant for your arrest will be issued.  The warrant for failure to appear is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,500 and/or 30 days in jail.

Burden of proof: In criminal cases the City of Grand Forks must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Appointed counsel: A defendant charged with a class B misdemeanor may be entitled to the services of a public defender if the defendant is determined to be indigent. To apply for a court appointed attorney the defendant must submit an application, provided by the court, within 14 days of your arraignment. This application contains financial information which the judge will review. You must be determined to be an indigent person to qualify for a court appointed attorney. Click here for more information on Court Appointed Attorney

Jury trial: A defendant charged with a class B misdemeanor in Municipal Court may request a jury trial. Jury trials are not available in Municipal Court, and so the jury trial would be held in Grand Forks County District Court. A written demand for jury trial must be made within 28 days after a plea of not guilty is entered. The City of Grand Forks prosecutes the case in the District Court.  If a defendant does not timely demand a jury trial, the right to a jury trial is waived by statute.

To appeal a guilty finding in Municipal Court

In a criminal case, you may appeal the Municipal Judge's decision in your case to the District Court. A written notice of appeal must be filed with the Municipal Court Clerk within 30 days after the entry of the judgment or order being appealed. The appeal is a new trial before a District Court Judge.  The conviction is reported to the state licensing authority even if an appeal is filed.

The clerk will forward the court file to the Clerk of District Court within five days after the appeal is filed. The Clerk of District Court will notify the defendant of future court appearances.