The Basics About Different Levels of Criminal Offenses in Minnesota
You or someone you know has been accused of a crime, and now you’re trying to understand how serious the charges are. Will you have a criminal record forever? What about possible jail time and fines?
To get personal advice specifically for you, reach out to the Minnesota criminal defense attorneys at White & Associates in Elk River. Or, keep reading to learn more about Minnesota criminal offenses.
Minnesota Has Three Levels of Crime and One Non-Criminal Infraction
Minnesota Statute 609.2 defines crime and each level of severity. In total, there are three levels of criminal offenses and one non-criminal offense.
Most Serious Crimes: Felony Offenses
Felonies are the most severe level of offense. Any offense that carries a potential sentence of one year or more in state prison qualifies as a felony. In addition to imprisonment, you could be sentenced to pay hefty monetary fines if convicted. Many different criminal acts qualify as felonies in Minnesota, including:
- Certain drug offenses
- Many sex crimes
- DWI/DUI, when the offender has three prior DWIs in the past 10 years, a prior felony DWI, or a prior felony vehicular homicide
- Various violent crimes ranging from homicide to certain types of assault
Mid-Level Crimes: Gross Misdemeanors
Gross misdemeanors are intermediate-level crimes in Minnesota. They are punishable by imprisonment of one year or less and/or fines of up to $3,000. One difference between a gross misdemeanor and a felony is where you would serve prison time if you’re convicted.
For a felony, you go to state prison; for a gross misdemeanor, you go to the local or county jail. One similarity to felonies is that a gross misdemeanor conviction could also mean you lose your driver’s license, professional license, immigrant status, and various other civil privileges.
Common gross misdemeanors in Minnesota include:
- Second DWI/DUI offense within 10 years
- First DWI offense if blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.2 or higher
- Theft of property valued between $500 and $1,000
Low-Level Crimes: Misdemeanors
A misdemeanor is any crime that carries a sentence of 90 days or less in jail and/or fines of $1,000 or less. If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor, you could also have difficulty getting a job. This is because a misdemeanor will show up on a background check. Gun ownership rights could also be affected.
Misdemeanors in Minnesota cover a wide range of crimes, such as:
- First-time DWI/DUI
- First-time domestic assault
- Fifth-degree assault
- Disorderly conduct, vandalism, public intoxication
Non-Criminal Infractions (Petty Misdemeanors)
Petty misdemeanors are punishable only by fines, with a maximum fine of $300. You cannot be sent to jail, which is why they are called “non-criminal infractions.” Typically you don’t need to appear in court for a petty misdemeanor; your lawyer can handle it for you.
Some examples of petty misdemeanors include:
- Speeding tickets, careless driving, and other driving infractions
- Possession of a small amount of marijuana
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
Get Advice and Representation From Proven Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers
No matter what level of crime or infraction you’re accused of in Minnesota, you need to take it seriously. Hiring a skilled defense lawyer should be at the top of your priority list. Call the team at White & Associates in Elk River today at 763-241-0477 or send us a message to arrange a free consultation.