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

    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:

    1. Murder;
    2. Criminal sexual conduct;
    3. Controlled substance crime;
    4. Certain burglary offenses;
    5. Certain theft offenses; and
    6. Certain assault offenses.

  • Gross Misdemeanors

    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

    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).

  • Petty Misdemeanors

    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:

    1. Speeding;
    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.

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