Steps in the legal process

This is what happens after you notify the police that you have been the victim of crime.
Step 1

Investigation and arrest

The police department: 

  • Investigates the crime
  • Arrests person or people who commit the crime, when appropriate
  • Files a report about the crime
Step 2


Charges are filed by either the City or County attorney

  • Misdemeanors by adults are handled by the Minneapolis City Attorney.
  • Felonies by adults and all cases involving juvenile offenders are handled by the Hennepin County Attorney.

See examples of misdemeanors and felonies

If charges are filed, a court case is opened in Hennepin County

To find out if charges have been filed:

To find the next court date for a case:

To learn more about misdemeanors and felonies:

Read the definitions in Minnesota statute

Read about how things work in Hennepin County

Step 3

Letters to victims

If charges are filed, the City will send a letter to victims identified in the police report. The letter will tell you:

  • The next court date
  • The name of the victim/witness specialist assigned to your case
  • Your rights as a crime victim
  • How to give input into the decision of the criminal case
  • How to ask for restitution from the defendant

Learn about the role of your victim/witness specialist

Read about restitution

Step 4

Court process

The steps in the court process are:

  • Arraignment — the defendant's first court appearance
    • If the defendant is in custody, the court may set bail or grant release with certain conditions.
    • The defendant may enter a plea or ask for additional time to get an attorney.
  • Pretrial — a preliminary hearing
    • The defendant, judge, prosecutor and defense attorney may attempt to resolve the case and avoid a trial.
  • Trial —The attorneys present evidence to the judge.
    • Victims and witnesses may be called to testify.

After arraignment

  • A victim/witness specialist might contact you to:
    • Get more details about the incident
    • Find out if you want to seek restitution 

If there is a trial

  • You will likely receive a subpoena requiring you to appear to provide evidence.

Learn how our victim/witness specialists can help you

Step 5


If defendants are found or plead guilty they are punished.

  • The process of determining the punishment is called sentencing.
  • It is the last step of the court process.
  • Common forms of punishment are: 
    • Fines
    • Time in jail or prison

See the sentencing process for misdemeanors

See the sentencing process for felonies

At the time of sentencing, you can give a Victim Impact Statement

  • This is your chance to tell the person who committed the crime how their actions affected you.
  • Victim impact statements may be written or presented orally.
  • The Victim/Witness Specialist assigned to you can help you with your statement.

See Minnesota Statute 611A.038 — Right to submit a statement at sentencing

Read more about victim impact statements

Contact us

Victim Services

City Attorney's Office




City Hall
350 Fifth St. S., Room 210
Minneapolis, MN 55415