When you are charged with a crime, it can feel like the cards are stacked against you. You are facing the full resources of the state of Minnesota on your own. Luckily, there are steps you can take to even the playing field. Chief among them is hiring a zealous legal advocate – an attorney who cares about you and is willing to fight for your rights. However, once you have a criminal defense attorney, there are other tools available to ensure you can take advantage of all your rights.
When a defendant lacks the resources necessary to present an adequate defense, he can rely on Minnesota Statute Section 611.21. Under this statute, a defendant who is appointed counsel by the State (public defender) or who “has an annual income not greater than 125 percent of the poverty line” is granted the right for their attorney to request funds for “investigative, expert, interpreter, or other services necessary to an adequate defense in the case.” In other words, defendants who may not be able to afford testifying experts, investigators, or other services that are deemed necessary for their attorney to properly represent them may be awarded funds from the court to pay for these services. If the defense attorney’s application for funds is approved, the court will determine the amount that the defendant receives to obtain the services. If the court denies the application, the defendant may appeal that order immediately to the court of appeals and request an expedited hearing.
As prosecutors have access to their own expert witnesses and investigators (the police), Minnesota Statute Section 611.21 gives defendants the opportunity to obtain resources that can level the playing field. This is especially helpful for defendants when they face complex charges or there is a large amount of evidence in the case. For example, hired investigators can be used to interview witnesses, investigate documents and records, review DNA evidence or investigate technology when computer records are at issue.
The United States Supreme Court has long recognized that when the State directs its resources at a defendant in a criminal proceeding, “it must take steps to assure that the defendant has a fair opportunity to present his defense.” Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68, 76 (1985). As the Court noted in Ake, this fundamental principle of due process “derives from the belief that justice cannot be equal where, simply as a result of his poverty, a defendant is denied the opportunity to participate meaningfully in a judicial proceeding in which his liberty is at stake.” Id. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has stated, “[t]here can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has.” Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 17-19 (1956). The application of Minnesota Statute Section 611.21 provides defendants a tool for receiving a fair and just trial as is their right in the United States
Contact the criminal defense attorneys at London Defense, to discuss the resources available to you in fighting for your rights and freedom.