Every crime is either a felony or a misdemeanor, with the former being the more serious of the two. But, when it comes to misdemeanors vs. felonies, what are the key differences, and what are the practical implications of each when you’ve been convicted?
We dig into these questions in this blog post.
Petty Misdemeanors in Minnesota
These are the least serious offenses; in fact, they’re not even considered crimes. Most traffic offenses are petty misdemeanors. The maximum penalty you can receive because of an offense like this is a fine of $300.
Misdemeanors in Minnesota
In Minnesota, a misdemeanor is considered a minor crime. Conviction of a misdemeanor does not result in a prison sentence; instead, you may face up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
First-time DWI offenses are typically misdemeanors unless there are aggravating factors present. Such factors can include a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.16% or more or having a child under the age of 16 in the car.
Other common misdemeanors include theft of property valued at less than $500, simple assault, and driving without a valid driver’s license.
Gross Misdemeanors in Minnesota
These are the most serious misdemeanors, carrying maximum sentences of up to 364 days in jail and fines of up to $3,000.
Both second- and third-degree DWI charges are gross misdemeanors in Minnesota. If you have more than one DWI conviction on your record within the last 10 years, you were intoxicated while driving with a child in your vehicle, or you were driving with an especially high blood alcohol concentration, you may get a conviction like this.
Other gross misdemeanors include the theft of property worth between $500 and $1,000, and the second assault on a single victim within the space of 10 years.
Felonies in Minnesota
A felony in Minnesota is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for over a year. The severity of the punishment varies depending on the crime. Felonies are further divided into levels based on their seriousness, from first-degree (the most severe) to fifth-degree.
In Minnesota, if a person has been charged with a fourth DWI within a ten-year period, it is generally considered a felony. This can lead to a sentence of up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $14,000. Additionally, other factors such as causing injury or death while driving intoxicated can elevate a DWI charge to the level of a felony.
Felony Sentencing in Minnesota
The state employs a detailed system, commonly referred to as the “sentencing grid,” to determine the appropriate punishments for various felonies. The grid assigns a sentence on the basis of two factors: the severity level of the conviction offense and the offender’s criminal history score.
- Severity levels: Crimes are categorized into one of eleven severity levels, each one having a recommended sentence range. The most severe crimes, like first-degree murder, fall into Level 11.
- Criminal history score: This score is determined by your prior criminal record. The more extensive your criminal history, the higher the score, and the harsher the sentencing recommendation.
The combination of the two values gives you a recommended sentence within the grid. However, the grid’s recommendations are not set in stone. A judge can choose to impose a lighter or heavier sentence based on various factors, such as the presence or absence of genuine remorse on the part of the defendant.
Misdemeanors vs. Felonies: Picking the Right Lawyer for Your Case
If you’re facing a misdemeanor or felony charge in Minnesota, having a capable legal representative in your corner is crucial if you want to emerge with the best possible result. Contact us today for a free initial consultation about your case.