If you have been charged with a crime in Minnesota, you are likely concerned about what level your charges are and if you will end up with a criminal record because of your case. In Minnesota there are three different levels of criminal offenses and one level of non-criminal infractions. Criminal offenses include felonies, gross misdemeanors, and misdemeanors. Non-criminal infractions are called petty misdemeanors. The different levels correspond to the maximum penalties that can be imposed if someone is convicted of that level of offense.
Felony offenses are the most serious level of offense in Minnesota. If you are convicted of a felony, you can be sentenced to more than one year in prison and/or fines of greater than $3,000. This does not mean that you will automatically be sentenced to more than one year in prison or more than $3,000 in fines, only that you could. The most severe penalty for a felony violation is life in prison. However, a life sentence is only available in certain narrowly defined circumstances. More commonly, felony convictions result in either a stayed or executed prison sentence stated in months. The maximum number of months than can be imposed is controlled by the criminal statute that was violated and the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. In addition to a term of imprisonment, you can also be sentenced to pay fines or restitution. An experienced attorney will be able to give you the best chance to avoid a conviction or reduce the penalty for a felony conviction.
Gross misdemeanor offenses are an intermediate level offense in Minnesota. Gross Misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in a local correctional facility and/or up to $3,000 in fines. In addition to the time limitation, gross misdemeanors differ from felonies in that if you are sentenced to serve time, you would be sent to a county jail or workhouse rather than a state prison. Like felonies, you can also be sentenced to pay restitution if convicted of a gross misdemeanor. An attorney may be able to have your gross misdemeanor reduced to a misdemeanor and give you the best possible chance to avoid serving jail time if you are convicted.
Misdemeanor offenses are the lowest level of criminal offense in Minnesota. The are punishable by up to 90 days in a county jail or workhouse and/or fines of up to $1,000. As with felonies and gross misdemeanors, you could also be sentenced to pay restitution. A lawyer will put you in the best position to avoid a conviction or jail time and may even be able to keep a misdemeanor off your record entirely.
Petty misdemeanors are the lowest level infraction for which you could find yourself in a Minnesota court. They are punishable by only a fine of up to $300. You cannot be sent to jail or prison for a petty misdemeanor. Therefore, they are non-criminal infractions. An attorney may be able to keep a petty misdemeanor off your record.