Criminal offenses in Minnesota fall into one of two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. While misdemeanors are serious offenses, felonies carry the steepest possible penalties under state law.
There are countless types of felony offenses recognized by Minnesota law. From violent crime to white collar fraud, these offenses cover a vast array of illegal activity. The potential penalties also vary, with sentences ranging from a single year to life in prison.
If you have been arrested under suspicion of a felony, you have the right to mount a vigorous defense. What’s more, you are entitled to an attorney to help you with that defense. The attorneys of Gerald Miller stand ready to advocate on your behalf during the course of your criminal case. Call right away for a free consultation.
Understanding Felony Offenses in Minneapolis
Many states provide a complex system of felony offenses. These subcategories—often referred to as degrees—are used to categorize criminal offenses and provide sentencing guidance. Minnesota does not take this approach. Instead, there are no subcategories when it comes to felony offenses in the State of Minnesota.
State law might not break down felony offenses into degrees, but it is important to note that not all felonies in Minneapolis are treated the same. Each offense has its own sentencing range, and some felonies carry steeper penalties than others. For example, some felony convictions might result in little more than a year in prison while others could bring about a lifetime behind bars.
Some criminal offenses—like driving while impaired—can result in either misdemeanor or felony charges. Other charges—like rape—are always considered felony offenses. Your attorney could advise you on whether there is an opportunity to have your charges reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Not all theft offenses are considered felonies in Minneapolis. In fact, most people charged with theft ultimately deal with misdemeanor charges. As is the case in most states, the severity of a theft charge will depend on the value of the item allegedly stolen. In Minnesota, a theft offense is treated as a felony when the value of the item stolen is worth $1,000 or more.
While not all violent offenses are considered felonies in Minneapolis, murder is always treated as a felony offense. In fact, murder carries some of the steepest penalties found in state law. If you are convicted of murder in Minnesota, you could face up to life in prison upon conviction.
The vast majority of arrests for driving while impaired (DWI) are treated as misdemeanor offenses. The number of previous DWI convictions will determine if this charge is treated as a misdemeanor or a felony. In order for a DWI to be counted as felony, you must either have a previous felony DWI conviction on your record or three prior misdemeanor DWIs. These prior misdemeanor convictions must have occurred within the past 10 years.
Criminal Offenses That Are Not Felonies in Minneapolis
There are other criminal offenses recognized under Minnesota law outside of felony charges. These offenses are known as misdemeanors. State law does not divide felony offenses into different categories, but the same cannot be said for misdemeanor offenses. The law breaks each of these offenses down to either misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors.
The lowest level of criminal offense according to state law is the misdemeanor. Misdemeanors stand out from felonies in that they can never result in a prison term upon conviction. Instead, a party that is convicted of a misdemeanor could face much lower maximum penalties. With a standard misdemeanor, you could face as much as 90 days in jail on time or any fines you might experience.
Gross misdemeanors typically branch the divide between misdemeanor and felony sentences. While a conviction for a gross misdemeanor will not lead to the long-term consequences of a felony, the maximum penalty is much higher compared to standard misdemeanors. If you are convicted of a gross misdemeanor, the maximum penalty you might face could be as much as a year in jail.
Maximums and Minimums
There is no question that the maximum criminal penalties that come with a felony conviction are much higher than a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor. Instead of facing 90 days or one year in jail, a felony could cost you decades of your life.
That said, the sentence you ultimately face upon conviction for a felony could be very similar to that of a misdemeanor under the right circumstances. While all felonies in Minneapolis have some form of maximum sentence, not every charge has a minimum sentence. In some situations, it is possible to secure probation for much of the prison term handed down by a judge.
One of the major benefits of hiring an experienced Minnesota defense attorney is the potential to not only fight your conviction but also push back at sentencing as well. Your attorney can make the case for a lighter sentence, which can in some cases lead to little or no prison time at all. The attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to serve as your advocate during every phase of your criminal case.
Common Defenses for Felony Crimes in Minneapolis
When you have been charged with a felony offense in Minnesota, the defense options available to you will depend on a few factors. Not all defense strategies apply to ever type of crime. What’s more, the specific facts of your case will largely determine what defense might make sense for you.
One of the ways the attorneys of Gerald Miller could help with your case is by identifying the strongest defense options available to you. This involves carefully reviewing the facts as well as the law surrounding your criminal charge.
One of the most common defenses in a variety of criminal cases is self-defense. This defense is most common in cases involving allegations of violence. The concept of self-defense is simple. A violent act that would otherwise qualify as a criminal act could be a valid defense under the right circumstances. In order for a self-defense strategy to work, a defendant must establish that they were facing an immediate threat of harm. In that situation, it is not a crime to use a proportionate amount of force to protect yourself.
The defense of consent primarily applies to sex offenses. Criminal offenses like rape are based on non-consensual sexual contact. By making the case that the alleged victim consented to the encounter, it could serve as a viable defense. Consent is not a valid defense for every sex crime. Specifically, it does not apply in cases involving underage victims.
Lack of Evidence
In order for the state to convict you of a felony, they must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard for the state to meet, and the failure to do so requires a verdict of not guilty. In many criminal cases, the best defense is to highlight the state’s inability to meet this high burden. Pointing to the lack of evidence could lead your attorney to avoid offering alternate theories or suspects.
There are many times when the alleged victim of a felony act will not be able to conclusively identify the perpetrator. This is often true is cases involving allegations of rape or assault. It can be a valid defense to establish that the state has pursued the wrong defendant entirely in a criminal case.
A viable mistaken identity defense could work in different ways. Your attorney could provide compelling evidence that someone else committed the act. Alternatively, they could show that it was impossible for you to be the perpetrator.
Talk to an Attorney About a Felony Arrest in Minneapolis
If you are facing felony charges in Minneapolis, the consequences of a conviction could alter your life forever. Years behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines could lead to hardship that could be devastating for you and those you love.
You have the right to fight back against a conviction in your criminal case. With the right attorney standing by your side, you could develop a defense strategy that gives you the best chance at a favorable outcome. If you are ready to maximize your chances of success, contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller as soon as possible for a free consultation.