What makes a crime a felony offense in Minnesota?

A Minnesota man took his motorcycle out for a ride one day and wound up with a felony. According to WTAQ, the man told law enforcement that his speedometer was not working, which is why he was driving 146 miles per hour. He was also passing vehicles by using the lane with oncoming traffic. Law enforcement charged the man with a felony offense of reckless endangerment.

There are a number of contributing factors that can be used to classify a criminal charge as a felony. Therefore, it is important to understand how Minnesota defines a felony as well as what the consequences may be upon conviction.

Defining a felony 

In Minnesota, a felony is any crime that carries with it a sentence of more than one year in prison. Some crimes are inherently felonies, such as aggravated robbery, murder, kidnapping, possession or dissemination of child pornography and domestic assault by strangulation.

However, there are times when a crime can be elevated to a felony. For example, a DUI charge is typically a misdemeanor unless the driver has already accumulated three such convictions. In Minnesota, having four DUI convictions during a 10-year period is considered a felony. This is also true for someone charged with a third domestic assault offense.

The severity of a crime can also bump it from a misdemeanor to a felony offense. This is especially true with theft. People can be charged with a felony if the value of the property or services is more than $1,000. 

The consequences of a felony

In the 1980s, Minnesota developed sentencing guidelines that are still in use today. The Minnesota Judicial Branch estimates that sentences in more than 95 percent of cases that involve a felony criminal act utilize the guidelines. In addition to jail time, a felony may carry with it other penalties, such as the following:

  • Losing the right to vote
  • Losing the right to own a firearm
  • Hefty fines
  • Probation periods following a jail sentence

While some sentences may be set, there are other aspects of a felony that may be discretionary. For example, a judge is permitted to set bail at any level for such a crime, as there is no maximum limit. Beyond the court-mandated consequences, people with a felony on their record may find it difficult to secure employment or even a decent place to live. Additionally, having one such conviction could affect the way someone is sentenced for an ensuing crime.

People who are facing felony charges should seek the help of a defense attorney in order to minimize the odds of a conviction and harsh consequences.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-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. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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

Minnesota’s new marijuana law legalizes marijuana for recreational purposes for adults 21 years or older. The new law makes it unlawful for employers to take action against their employees for off-duty cannabis use. It also prohibits them from refusing to hire an applicant who tests positive for cannabis or requiring applicants to take pre-employment cannabis testing.
Is weed legal in Minnesota? Currently, weed is legal for medical and recreational use in the state. A new Minnesota law legalized weed for recreational use on August 1, 2023. Persons aged 21-years or older may possess or carry a maximum of two ounces of marijuana flower in public.
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