Month: November 2011

Research: The Difference Between a Law, Statute and Rule

When many people are accused of a crime,  they must quickly learn how the legal system works. It is a good idea to understand a brief overview of the difference between laws, the laws of the state known as ‘statutes’ and rules. While it’s not necessary to understand what exactly the law, statute or rules mean pertaining to your case, the more you understand, the better you’ll be prepared to fight your charges with our help.

What is a law?

A law is an idea, placed in bill form, that has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate and has not been vetoed by the Governor.

What are statutes?

Minnesota Statutes is a compilation of the general and permanent laws of the state, incorporating all new laws, amendments, or repeals of old law. It is printed every two years by the Revisor of Statutes Office. A supplement is issued in odd-numbered years to show changes made during that legislative session. The citation for laws contained in the supplement is “Minnesota Statutes 1989 Supplement, section 335.01.” Statutes are laws that apply to all citizens and cover a variety of topics, including the following: the Legislature, the executive branch, state departments, the judiciary and courts, tax policy, public safety and police authority, towns, cities, counties, commerce and trade, private property and private rights, civil injuries and remedies, and crimes against people and property and the penalties associated with them.

What is a rule?

There are two definitions of a rule, depending on which branch of government you are referring to.

Procedural rules In the Legislature, rules refer to the regulating principles or methods of procedure. The Minnesota Constitution, Minnesota Statutes, Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure, Jefferson’s Manual, and custom and usage are all guidelines which determine legislative procedure. Each body adopts the rules under which it operates and the joint rules which govern joint conventions.

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The Criminal Trial: Procedure

If you have been convicted of a crime, a trial may be involved. When your trial date finally arrives you will probably feel a mixture of relief and fear. All of the preparation involved in getting to this point has likely left you tired and frustrated. The trial is where it all comes to a head.

All trials are different. But, all trials follow a typical pattern:

Opening Statements: This is where both sides (prosecution and defense) introduce their case to the judge and/or jury.

Presentation of Evidence: The most extensive stage of a criminal trial, the presentation of evidence is where the case is argued. Witnesses are called and evidence presented. This is where the prosecution attempts to prove to the court that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Closing Arguments: This stage is the last opportunity for both sides to address the court before a verdict is reached.

Jury Instructions: The judge will instruct the jurors on their responsibilities before they retire.

Jury Deliberations: The jury will retire to a private area to determine your guilt or innocence.

Verdict: Once a verdict is reached, the jury will return to the courtroom. If you are found guilty the judge will schedule a sentencing date.

If you are possibly facing a criminal trial, please contact our law office. We can assist you in the proper procedure and give you the advice and representation necessary in allowing you the fairest possible trial.