Frequently Asked Questions

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 or give legal advice to private individuals.
How can I find an attorney to represent me?
Conduct an internet search or check the yellow pages in a telephone book under “Attorneys.”  Areas of specialization and reviews are often noted.  You may also contact the Minnesota Bar Association at (800) 292-4152 or www.mnbar.org.  To avoid any potential conflict of interest, the Martin County Attorney's Office cannot make attorney recommendations.
What if I cannot afford a private attorney?
A person charged with a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony may qualify for the services of a public defender through the district court application process.  A district court judge will review the application to determine if you qualify, and may require you to pay a reasonable surcharge.  In addition, the district court may appoint an attorney in certain select subject matter areas, such as child protection, juvenile delinquency and civil commitment proceedings.  

If your matter is a civil dispute, you are not entitled to the services of a public defender.  You will need to either hire a private attorney or represent yourself.

Legal Resource: See, MN Judicial Branch Self-Help Centers web page at https://www.mncourts.gov/selfhelp/.
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.
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 one year in jail).
  • Felony (Any offense for which the maximum penalty is more than one year in jail and a fine greater than $3,000).
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.
Who do I contact if I have been the victim of a crime?
Office of the Victim/Witness Coordinator
Martin County Courthouse
201 Lake Avenue, Room 247
Fairmont, MN 56031
Phone: 507-238-3209
Email: victim.services@co.martin.mn.us