How is the Minnesota criminal justice system set up, and what can you expect should you ever face criminal charges? Read on to learn about the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, what is involved in drunk driving charges, and many other state-specific criminal law topics.
There are three different crime classifications in Minnesota. The state defines each grouping by severity and the associated potential penalties. Petty misdemeanors are not considered crimes, are punishable by a $300 fine, but could affect your insurance rates and driving record.
Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 90 days behind bars. Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor may also have to pay up to a $1,000 fine. A fine may be the only penalty in some cases.
A gross misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.
Felonies are the most severe offense level under Minnesota criminal law and are punishable by at least 12 months in prison. Actual fines and length of prison sentences, however, may depend on the crime and specific criminal charges you face. Repeat offenders of lower level crimes could also face felony charges.
Examples of felony offenses include:
Note that recreational use of marijuana is still illegal under both state and federal law. You could face charges ranging from a gross misdemeanor to a felony charge. A first offense conviction is punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Minnesota refers to drunk driving as driving while intoxicated or DWI, although driving under the influence, commonly known as a DUI, is a widely used term that you may be more familiar with. A person of legal drinking age may face DWI charges in Minnesota if they:
Penalties include loss of your driver’s license, jail time, loss of your vehicle on your third DWI conviction within 10 years, and mandated surrender of your license plate.
The state has a zero-tolerance policy for anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 and an implied consent law legally requiring all drivers to comply with BAC and chemical testing.
Minnesota has two degrees of manslaughter charges. Both first-degree and second-degree manslaughter are felony charges.
A first-degree manslaughter conviction can mean up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $30,000, while a second-degree manslaughter conviction can mean up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000.
Do you need to research Minneapolis or St. Paul area law firms to find the right lawyer for you? Or are you located elsewhere in Minnesota? You can find attorneys that practice in your area on LawInfo.com. But before you hire anyone, make sure you’ve covered the basics to mount the best possible defense against your criminal charges. You may want to consider the following:
There are a lot of considerations when you interview a criminal defense lawyer. In order to avoid a guilty verdict, take the time to find an attorney that understands your legal issue and can advocate for you in order to get the best possible outcome under the circumstances.
An arrest and conviction can change everything. Fines or time in jail are the immediate concern, but a conviction will also mean a criminal record that can make it harder to find a job and housing for years to come. If you are arrested or learn you are under investigation, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights, lay out your options, and help you determine the best way to proceed with mounting a defense and limiting potential penalties.