Minnesota Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors in Minnesota

Misdemeanors aren’t usually seen as serious offenses, especially when compared to felonies. This is because there may be little to no jail time and the fines may be low. However, a misdemeanor offense can follow you around on your criminal record for quite some time unless it is an expungeable offense, which means it could potentially be removed from your record in the future.

As for felonies, they almost always can’t be removed and that means any time a background check is done, the offense can be seen. This can interfere with your ability to find a job or a place to live. That is why when you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you need to secure the representation of an experienced Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer. When you have a competent attorney by your side, you are more likely to get the most favorable result your case will allow.

Minnesota categorizes its crimes according to their severity. Murder, rape, kidnapping, and other serious crimes are classified as felonies. Misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors are terms used to describe less serious crimes. Misdemeanors are typically punished with jail time and fines.

Petty misdemeanors are classified separately from normal misdemeanors under Minnesota law. These misdemeanors can result in fines of no more than $200 or $100, and the individual will almost always avoid jail time. Minor traffic offenses and three speeding offenses in a single year are examples.

Misdemeanor Charges And Their Penalties

Although a misdemeanor isn’t as serious as a felony, they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here are the different classifications of misdemeanors in Minnesota:

  • Petty misdemeanors – Court hearings are typically not required and encompass such offenses as traffic violations or even petty theft that involve a dollar amount of less than $250. However, the penalty can involve $300 in fines.
  • Misdemeanors – Court hearings are typically required and can involve jail time of up to 90 days and fines of up to $1,000. Simple theft, simple assault, and a first-time DWI are considered misdemeanors.
  • Gross misdemeanors – Gross misdemeanors are just one level below felonies. A gross misdemeanor can have a penalty of up to $3,000 in fines and a year in jail. Examples of gross misdemeanors include repeated assault against the same individual, a second DWI in a 10-year period, and theft.

Gross Misdemeanor Examples

Gross misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are more serious than regular misdemeanors but less severe than felonies. The specific classifications and penalties for gross misdemeanors can vary by jurisdiction. Here are some examples of actions that might be considered gross misdemeanors:

  • DUI (Driving Under the Influence): Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be charged as a gross misdemeanor, especially if it’s a repeat offense. Minnesota Statutes, section 169A.20
  • Domestic Violence: Certain acts of domestic violence, such as assault or harassment, may be classified as gross misdemeanors.
  • Theft (Value between $500 and $1,000): Depending on the value of the stolen property, theft offenses can range from petty theft (a misdemeanor) to grand theft (a felony). Gross misdemeanors may fall in between these two categories. Minnesota Statutes, section 609.52
  • Criminal Vehicular Operation: Reckless or negligent operation of a vehicle that results in bodily harm to another person can be charged as a gross misdemeanor. Minnesota Statutes, section 609.21
  • Assault (Fear of Bodily Harm): Aggravated assault or assault with a weapon may be classified as a gross misdemeanor. Minnesota Statutes, section 609.224
  • Criminal Trespass: Serious cases of trespassing, especially if accompanied by other criminal behavior, may be considered a gross misdemeanor.
  • Criminal Damage to Property: Willful and malicious damage to property, such as vandalism, may be charged as a gross misdemeanor. Minnesota Statutes, section 609.595
  • Stalking: Stalking behaviors, especially if they involve threats or repeated unwanted contact, may be classified as a gross misdemeanor.
  • Forgery: Falsifying documents or signatures, particularly if they involve significant sums of money or important legal documents, may be considered a gross misdemeanor. Minnesota Statutes, section 609.63
  • Drug Possession (Fifth Degree): While simple drug possession is often classified as a misdemeanor, possession of larger quantities or certain types of controlled substances may be charged as a gross misdemeanor. Minnesota Statutes, section 152.025

Driving Under the Influence

According to Minnesota law, a person does not have to drive a car to be guilty of driving while intoxicated. A person only needs to be physically in control of the vehicle to be convicted. It is illegal to sit in a car with or without the key in the ignition. A single DWI offense is a misdemeanor, but two in five years or three in ten years will result in a gross misdemeanor charge. Even if it is the first offense, having a child in the vehicle at the time will result in a gross misdemeanor.

Driving while intoxicated can result in a variety of penalties, including vehicle impoundment, probation, a requirement to abstain from alcohol consumption, the loss of driving privileges for life, and the requirement to enter rehabilitation or a treatment center. The severity of the punishment is determined by the number of offenses committed.

Assault and battery, as well as harassment

Under Minnesota law, there is no distinction between assault and battery. All private lawsuits are classified as assault cases and can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies based on the severity of the offense.

Harassment and stalking are both misdemeanors in most cases but can be felonies in some circumstances. Harassment includes intrusive, repeated, and unwanted gestures, acts, or words that affect someone else’s security, safety, or privacy; a pattern of attending an event after being informed that his or her presence is harassing another individual; targeted residential picketing specifically directed at a resident that interferes with the residents’ security, privacy, and safety; and repeated and unwanted letters, telegrams, phone calls, or packages to another individual.

Misdemeanor Expungement in Minnesota

Expungement is the process of sealing court records so that they are no longer accessible to the public. Minnesota law allows for the expungement of arrest records. This is only available to those who had their charges dropped before a trial or who were found innocent at trial. Expunction is also possible if a person has not pleaded or admitted guilt to a conviction. The court will decide whether a person has reformed his or her life to the point where another crime is less likely to be committed. Expunction is considered and may be granted in these cases.

In the state of Minnesota, juvenile records can be expunged in almost all cases. This usually occurs after an individual reaches the age of eighteen.

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