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Attorney's Office FAQs
- Can I report a crime to the County Attorney's Office?
The crime should be reported to the police department in the city where the crime was committed. If the crime was committed in a township, the crime should be reported to the Rice County Sheriff at 507-332-6022 (from Lonsdale call 507-744-5185, from Northfield call 507-645-9576) or if it is an emergency call 911.
- How do I obtain copies of criminal reports?
As a general rule, reports and records are maintained by the department that generates them. Official copies of criminal reports are maintained at the Law Enforcement Center or Police Department records sections, so your first request should be directed to your local law enforcement center. The records section may have to refer you to us if data privacy issues exist, and in that case we will do our best to help you.
For more information, please contact the Attorney's Office at Faribault phone 507-332-6103, Northfield phone 507-645-9576, or Lonsdale phone 507-744-5185.
- How does a judge decide a sentence?
If the judge is sentencing a defendant for a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense, the judge relies on the judge's experience and past sentencing practices. Occasionally, there is a mandatory minimum sentence that is required. There are no sentencing guidelines for misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors.
If the crime is a felony, the sentencing judge must apply the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines which give a presumptive sentence that a defendant should receive based upon the seriousness of the crime and the defendant's criminal record. When a probationary sentence is called for by the Guidelines, a judge may impose county jail time, fines, treatment, restitution, or other requirements as conditions of probation. Before sentencing, a pre-sentence investigation may be prepared which includes a social history of the defendant, criminal history of the defendant, victim impact and other information and recommendations. The prosecutor and defense attorney also may make recommendations to the judge regarding sentencing. Visit the
- What happens at trial?
The trial may be before a jury of twelve people or a judge alone if the defendant so requests. The trial begins with both sides having an opportunity to make an opening statement on the facts they expect to prove. The prosecutor then presents the State's case by using witnesses and exhibits. When the prosecutor has finished, the defense attorney may given an opening statement if it has not already been given. The defense attorney then may present a case using witnesses and exhibits. The defendant is not required to prove anything.
The defendant is present in the courtroom during the entire trial. The defendant can decide not to testify. Once the defense has completed its case, both sides are allowed to make closing arguments, with the prosecutor going first. The judge or jury will then review the evidence they have heard and make a decision of guilty or not guilty. The prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt must prove the defendant guilty. All jurors have to agree on the verdict. For more information, please contact the Attorney's Office at Faribault 507-332-6103, Northfield 507-645-9576, or Lonsdale 507-744-5185.
- What happens next in a criminal case?
When a Complaint (criminal charging document) is issued by the County Attorney's Office and signed by a judge, the defendant is scheduled for a first appearance in Court. A judge will then insure that an attorney represents the defendant. The judge also decides whether the defendant should be required to post bail or be released without bail. If the defendant doesn't post bail the defendant remains in jail. If requested, an Omnibus (pretrial) Hearing is scheduled. At the Omnibus Hearing, a judge decides what evidence may be used and whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. Testimony from victims and witnesses is usually not necessary at the Omnibus Hearing. After the judge decides the Omnibus Hearing issues, the trial is scheduled. The trial usually is scheduled within six to eight weeks unless the defendant asks for or agrees to a trial at a later date.
The law requires counties to offer some offenders the option to participate in a diversion program rather than continuing through the court system. Certain first time property offenders may be eligible for the Rice County Adult Criminal Diversion Program. The goals of diversion include creating an incentive for offenders to change their behavior, ensuring full and prompt payment of restitution to crime victims, holding offenders accountable to society, and reducing costs associated with the criminal justice system.
For more information, please contact the Attorney's Office at at Faribault 507-332-6103, Northfield 507-645-9576, or Lonsdale 507-744-5185.
- Can anyone help me with expenses related to this crime?
There are several resources available for financial assistance. The Victim/Witness Coordinator can help you sort out which is best for you. Emergency funds may be available on a limited basis to help with emergencies not covered by insurance or other sources. The State of Minnesota also has funds available through Reparations to assist victims of crime with medical, dental, psychological or funeral expenses related to a crime. For more information, please call the Victim/Witness Coordinator at 507-332-5934.
- Can I testify by video if I don't want to be in the courtroom with the offender?
Video testimony is acceptable only in rare occasions in juvenile or criminal proceedings. The constitutions of the United States and State of Minnesota guarantee each defendant the right to face their accusers. Your Victim/Witness Coordinator will do everything possible to prepare you for your experience on the witness stand and answer any questions or concerns you may have. For more information, please contact the Victim/Witness Coordinator at 507-332-5934.
- Do I have to come to court?
As the victim or witness to a crime committed by an adult offender, you have the right to be at any hearing. You are not obligated to come to court unless you receive a subpoena. Many juvenile hearings are closed and you should your Victim/Witness Coordinator whether you may attend. The Coordinator will be happy to accompany you to the courtroom and explain the proceedings if you wish. For more information, please contact the Victim/Witness Coordinator at 507-332-5934.
- How do I know if the offender is still in custody?
There are a number of ways to track offenders who may be in custody. You will need the name of the defendant and a date of birth is also helpful.
If the offender is in custody in a State prison, information may be accessed through Minnesota Department of Corrections website.
If the offender is in custody in a county jail, you may be able to track that offender using VINE, an automated system that will track offenders in MOST county jails. Information is available through their website or by calling 1-877-MN-4-VINE (1-877-664-8463).
- How do I obtain a police report?
Many victims would like to receive a copy of the police reports but many victims face difficulties in obtaining them. Please contact the Victim/Witness Coordinator at 507-332-5934 if you would like to
- Who do I call regarding a consumer protection problem?
For complaints about businesses, call the Commerce Department at 800-657-3602. You can also contact the Consumer Affairs Division of the Attorney General's Office at 800-657-3787 or visit the
- Who should I contact if I have a landlord/tenant issue?
Contact the Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-657-3787.
If you wish to report unsafe conditions in a rented apartment, please contact local Housing Inspectors in Faribault at 507-333-0378 or in Northfield at 507-645-3004.
To learn more about the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants visit
- Who should I contact if I have questions about bankruptcy?
You will need to contact private counsel for questions on bankruptcy or call the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota in St. Paul at 651-848-1000. Or, visit
- Who should I contact if I need an attorney to represent me?
If you need a public defender, you must apply to the Court Administrator’s Office, located in the Courthouse, or call 507-332-6107.
The County Attorney’s Office cannot make recommendations concerning private attorneys. You can search the Yellow Pages, call the Minnesota Attorney Referral Service at 800-292-4152, or visit the
- Who should I contact if I need to report consumer fraud?
Contact the Minnesota Attorney General at: 800-657-3787, or 651-296-3353. Or, visit
- How do I request a speaker from the Attorney's Office?
The County Attorney and his staff are available to speak to civic and educational groups on topics relating to the County Attorney's Office. Please call 507-332-6103 to make a request.