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Minnesota Criminal Law: An Overview

Crime can affect both the victim (and their family) and the offender for the rest of their lives. While it's not often considered, a criminal doesn't simply fulfill their sentence and go on with their lives. Their criminal record could affect their rights and opportunities long after they made reparations.

Use LawInfo's criminal law articles to help educate yourself about Minnesota's laws and how they affect your case. You can learn about the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, intoxicated driving charges and many other state-specific criminal law topics. You can also use LawInfo to connect with a Minnesota criminal law attorney in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Duluth or elsewhere in the state.

Minnesota Marijuana Crimes

Despite a nationwide push toward decriminalizing and, ultimately, legalizing the recreational and medical use of marijuana, it is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in both federal and Minnesota state laws. Minnesota allows for the legal medical use of marijuana for qualifying conditions, but recreational use and possession is still illegal under state law.

Crimes of marijuana possession and sale are classified in five degrees from gross misdemeanors to felonies. (See Minnesota Statutes § 152.021 through 152.025.) Fines and imprisonment penalties for these offenses can range from up to $10,000 and five years for a fifth-degree offense to $1 million and 30 years for a first-degree offense.

First and Second Degree Manslaughter in Minnesota

Manslaughter is often called an "accidental homicide" charge because the killer either unintentionally or recklessly caused the death of another person. However, there are cases in which the homicide was intentional but still doesn't qualify as murder. Additionally, Minnesota recognizes two classifications of manslaughter charges that measure the severity of the crime in relation to the offender's intentions and actions.

The most serious non-murder charge is manslaughter in the first degree, which is a felony offense with penalties of up to 15 years of imprisonment and no more than a $30,000 fine. This type of manslaughter charge is reserved for offenders who, to some degree, were committing another offense that resulted in the victim's death. It also reserved for a "heat of passion" homicide in which the offender killed the victim after being emotionally provoked.

A second-degree manslaughter charge is another felony offense that is penalized with up to 10 years of imprisonment and no more than a $20,000 fine. This type of charge is reserved for homicides resulting from negligence, such as accidental shootings, dangerous pranks and owning a dangerous pet that kills the victim.

Crime Classifications in Minnesota

Every state has its own system of classifying crimes which also identifies the statutory punishments for each classification. Minnesota has three main criminal offense classifications: felonies, misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. There are also petty misdemeanors which are non-criminal offenses.

While each offense carries its own statutory penalties, they fall under one of these four classifications, each of which defines the maximum or minimum penalties that may be sentenced:

  • Felonies may be sentenced to more than one year of imprisonment.
  • Misdemeanors may be sentenced with up to 90 days of imprisonment or a fine of no more than $1,000 (or both).
  • Gross misdemeanors are more serious than misdemeanors and may be sentenced to no more than a $3,000 fine and/or imprisonment.
  • Petty misdemeanors may only be fined up to $300.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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