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.

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.

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