When does Minnesota consider a crime aggravated?

A University of Minnesota student waited at a bus stop in early September. According to Minnesota Daily, a man joined her at the stop and, after a few moments, told her to hand over her belongings. The young woman said she could see there was something under his sweatshirt, but she determined that he did not have a gun. The man grabbed her book bag and fled. A passerby was able to retrieve the bag and noticed that the weapon the man had was a screwdriver. The man fled the scene.

Law enforcement say he could face an aggravated robbery charge when he is found due to the fact that he threatened the young woman with a weapon. In Minnesota, there are several ways that a situation could be elevated to an aggravated crime, which comes with more severe consequences.

Defining aggravating factors

According to Minnesota statute, people charged with a crime could face steeper penalties if certain aggravating factors are present, such as specifically targeting a victim due to race, sex, color, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion. Other factors include the following:

  • There was particularly cruel treatment involved, or the crime was committed in front of a child.
  • The defendant knew that the victim was especially vulnerable, either due to age, illness or handicap.
  • The crime had a major economic impact, either with multiple victims, substantial monetary loss and/or a high degree of sophistication.
  • The crime is a sexual offense and the defendant has a previous felony conviction for a similar crime, or the crime involves a serious injury and the defendant has a previous felony conviction for a similar crime.
  • The offense is a drug offense involving certain conditions such as the sale or transfer of controlled substances or the defendant possessed a firearm during the act.

People who are considered a dangerous offender may also receive aggravated sentencing for their third violent crime. Based on these factors, a variety of charges ranging from DWI to assault to murder could quickly become aggravated crimes.

The consequences

Tacking aggravating factors onto a crime will always mean harsher sentencing. For example, simple robbery in Minnesota could result in $20,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison. A first-degree aggravated robbery, which, similar to the situation with the University of Minnesota student, would involve a weapon or an item used to make someone think it is a weapon, could merit as long as 20 years in prison and up to $35,000 in fines.

Anyone with questions regarding how the state determines and punishes aggravating factors should consult with an attorney.

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.