What are the levels of crimes with which I can be charged?

What are the levels of crimes with which I can be charged?

In Minnesota we have 4 kinds of crimes: Petty Misdemeanors, Misdemeanors, Gross Misdemeanors and Felonies.

What is a petty misdemeanor?

A petty misdemeanor is any violation of law or city ordinance that is punishable by up to a $300 fine. Petty misdemeanors are not technically crimes. They are more like minor violations. You cannot be sentenced to any jail time for a petty misdemeanor. Sometimes misdemeanor crimes can be reduced to petty misdemeanors.

Examples of petty misdemeanors:

  • •.
    Speeding tickets
  • •.
    Public nuisance
  • •.
    Parking tickets

What is a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by up to 90 days in county jail, or a $1,000 fine or both. Misdemeanors are generally less serious crimes, such as careless driving or shoplifting. You may be charged with a misdemeanor by ticket, or complaint. Many times someone charged with a misdemeanor will not be arrested, but instead given a court date on their ticket. The penalties for misdemeanors are generally less severe than for gross misdemeanors or felonies, but can include some jail time, sentence to service, fines, or probation. Because your rights can be violated even in a misdemeanor case, you need to be represented even if you are charged with a misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor offenses include: (with links to offenses)

What is a Gross Misdemeanor?

A gross misdemeanor is a crime punishable by up to 365 days in jail and a $3,000 fine or both. Gross misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, but more serious than misdemeanors. Often gross misdemeanors are misdemeanors that have been enhanced. For example, you may be charged with gross Misdemeanor domestic assault if you have already been convicted of a prior misdemeanor domestic assault offense within the prior five years. Some crimes become gross misdemeanors by a monetary amount. For example, or services worth between $500 and $1,000 is charged as a gross misdemeanor. Many gross misdemeanor sentences include local jail time and probation. You must be represented in your gross misdemeanor case to ensure that you are treated fairly and your rights are not violated.

Gross misdemeanor offenses include:

What is a Felony?

A Felony is the most serious level of crime. A felony is any crime punishable by at least a year in prison. Some felonies don’t require a prison sentence but impose a longer period of supervised probation and potential local jail time or house arrest as consequences. Many felonies do result in a prison sentence, and multiple prior felonies can make future felony sentences much, much worse. Some of the most serious crimes have mandatory minimum prison sentences outlined in the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.

Felony convictions can have consequences in addition to prison time. Many felony convictions result in a loss of rights to vote and own a firearm. A non-citizen can be deported upon a felony conviction. Likewise, an enlistee may be barred from joining the armed forces. Felony convictions can lead to disqualification of professional licensures or jobs working with vulnerable people.

Some crimes are very serious and require no previous criminal record to be classified as a felony, like murder or aggravated robbery. Other crimes become felonies when the person charged has a history of similar convictions. For example, when a person has been convicted of three previous qualifying DUI/DWI convictions within the previous 10 years, the next, or fourth, DUI/DWI they commit is charged as a felony. Some crimes become felonies based on a monetary amount. For example, theft of property or services worth more than $1,000 is charged as a felony.

Felonies are very serious offenses that often have long lasting harmful effects on a person’s life. Often a person will be denied employment, housing and some services because of a felony conviction. A person representing themselves—pro se—is at a disadvantage when facing felony charges. Because the stakes are so high in a felony case, legal representation is required to ensure that your rights are not violated, that the case has been handled and charged appropriately, and that the proposed sentence is appropriate, or that the trial is fair. Felonies are complicated cases, and require a lawyer’s expertise.


Catherine is licensed to practice state law in the State of Minnesota.

If you’ve been charged with an offense, call Catherine, a highly rated criminal defense attorney near me. Call her today for a free consultation.