Enhancement Can Turn Your Misdemeanor Into a Felony

Enhanceable crimes can increase sentences and penalties, turning a misdemeanor charge into a felony charge for a defendant. Enhancements typically relate to aggravating factors that have an impact on a criminal charge.

What Are Enhancements?

For most crimes, the law specifies a range of possible punishments for each crime. When a defendant is convicted of a crime, his/her sentence is determined within an allowable sentencing range for that crime. Sentence enhancements relate to aggravating factors that allow a judge to increase a defendant’s sentence beyond the stated sentencing range.

A defendant’s criminal history and/or special details related to an offense contribute to enhancements in a case. Enhancements often have a significant impact in criminal cases, but in some cases, they can turn a misdemeanor into a felony with substantially higher penalties. Since enhancement charges can have a serious impact on a defendant’s sentence, a felony lawyer will often work to defeat enhancements in a case.

Enhanceable Crimes

All states have enhanceable crimes, but the specifics of enhanced sentence laws may vary from state to state. An enhanced sentence means that a sentence can be increased because of a prior conviction or the serious nature of a crime. Enhanced sentence laws often change the classification of an offense to a higher level classification. In many states, common enhancements relate to prior convictions, repeat offenses, the use of a weapon, hate crimes, and gang-related crimes. In some states, like California, repeat offenders in cases of willful homicide, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault with a firearm, and burglary face “three strike laws” that can put a defendant in prison for life after three repeat offenses. Enhancements based on criminal history exist in every state.

Enhanceable crimes in Minnesota relate to the following:

  • Repeat Offenses
  • Impaired Driving
  • Domestic Violence
  • Privacy Violations
  • Prostitution

The constitution allows all criminal defendants certain rights, including a jury trial with representation by a felony lawyer. With any criminal charge, the prosecution must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. However, sentencing enhancements are not considered elements of a crime. They are only considered additional facts in a case that if established can increase the potential penalties for the crime.

Enhancement sentencing laws were established to deter or reduce crimes by raising the consequences for offenders. Within five to seven years after enhancement sentencing laws were imposed, many states saw a reduction by as much as 20 percent in enhanceable crimes.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.
Minnesota recently passed a public safety bill that brings sweeping changes to the state’s juvenile justice system. While minors sometimes run afoul of the law, the juvenile justice system seeks to account for the differences between children and adults. Therefore, while the penalties for adults convicted of crimes focus on punishment, those for juveniles are aimed at diversion and restorative practices.