What are Felonies and Misdemeanors?
Crimes fit into one of three categories in Minnesota: felonies, gross misdemeanors, and misdemeanors. This is a sliding scale with felonies being the most serious and misdemeanors being the least serious. Each category of crime carries its own level of consequences.
Felonies are the most serious type of crime in Minnesota. According to Minnesota Statute §609.02, subdivision 2, a felony is a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than one (1) year may be imposed. The amount of time a person may serve behind bars for committing a felony depends on two factors: the severity of the crime and the number of prior felony convictions a person has. The more serious the crime, and more prior felony convictions a person has, the longer a person may serve in prison. Felony crimes include:
2. Criminal sexual conduct;
3. Controlled substance crime;
4. Certain burglary offenses;
5. Certain theft offenses; and
6. Certain assault offenses.
Gross misdemeanors are crimes less serious than felonies but more serious than misdemeanors. The maximum possible sentence for gross misdemeanor convictions is one (1) year imprisonment, a $3,000 fine, or both. Gross misdemeanor crimes include:
1. Giving the name of another to a peace officer;
2. Giving a fictitious name to a court official;
3. Certain DWI offenses; and
4. Certain theft offenses;
Misdemeanors are the least serious type of crime in Minnesota. The maximum possible sentence for a misdemeanor conviction is ninety (90) days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. Misdemeanor crimes include:
1. Disorderly conduct;
2. Failure to produce proof of proof of insurance (first offense);
3. Domestic assault (first offense); and
4. DWI (first offense with no aggravating factors).
According to Minnesota Statute §609.02, a petty misdemeanor is a petty offense prohibited by statute, which does not constitute a crime. Most petty misdemeanor offenses are moving traffic violations. The maximum possible sentence for a petty misdemeanor is a $300 fine. There is no possibility to serve jail time for petty misdemeanor offenses. Petty misdemeanor offenses include:
2. Failure to yield right of way;
3. Parking in restricted areas; and
4. Running a red light.
Implications of Convictions
Having a felony, gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor, or petty misdemeanor conviction on your record may have devastating and long-lasting implications. Almost every conviction is publicly accessible. This means potential employers, current employers, friends, and family can find your record within minutes.
Avoiding a conviction is all the more reason to find a Minnesota criminal lawyer who will aggressively fight to keep your record clear. When your reputation is on the line, don’t take a chance with your defense. Hire the right defense attorney who understands the system and isn’t afraid to fight for your rights.