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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Will the County Attorney represent me in a lawsuit?
  2. What's the difference between a County Attorney and a District Attorney?
  3. What's the difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
  4. What's the difference between jail and prison?
  5. Who do I contact if I have been the victim of a crime?

 

1. Will the County Attorney represent me in lawsuit?

No. Minnesota law dictates the duties of the County Attorney. The County Attorney is only authorized to prosecute criminal matters and represent the County in civil lawsuits. The County Attorney's Office cannot represent private individuals or give legal advice.

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2. What's the difference between a County Attorney and a District Attorney?

There is no difference. The official title of prosecuting attorneys differs from state to state. In Minnesota, prosecutors of felony level offenses are called County Attorneys. In other states, such prosecutors are referred to by various titles, such as District Attorney, State's Attorney, State Prosecutor, etc.

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3. What's the difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

The Statutes of Minnesota prescribe what acts are crimes, and also determine the severity level of all offenses. The levels of severity are, from lowest to highest:

  • Petty Misdemeanor (fine of up $300) Most traffic offenses are petty misdemeanors. These are not considered "crimes" under Minnesota law, and they do not entail a jail sentence.
  • Misdemeanor (Fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail)
  • Gross Misdemeanor (Fine of up to $3,000 and up to 1 year in jail)
  • Felony (Any offense for which the maximum penalty is more than one year in prison)

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4. What's the difference between jail and prison?

Prisons are maintained by the Minnesota Commissioner of Corrections and are used for the incarceration of Felony Level Offenders only. Jails are administered by counties (or in some cases, cities) and are used to house misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor level offenders, as well as those felony level offenders that are being held prior to trial or are serving probationary jail sentences.

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5. Who do I contact if I have been the victim of a crime?

Amy Rigelman, Victim Services Coordinator
Benton County Attorney's Office
Courts Facility
PO Box 189
Foley MN 56329
(320) 968-5182

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