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Misdemeanor v. Felony
Having a basic understanding of the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is a great first step to understanding the law.
In the state of Minnesota, criminal charges can be classified in one of the following categories (each one more severe than the next): petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony.
Minnesota statutes define these charges as such:
Petty misdemeanor: a petty offense which is prohibited by statute, which does not constitute a crime and for which a sentence of a fine of not more than $300 may be imposed.
Misdemeanor: a crime for which a sentence of not more than 90 days or a fine of not more than $1,000, or both, may be imposed.
Gross misdemeanor: any crime which is not a felony or misdemeanor. The maximum fine which may be imposed for a gross misdemeanor is $3,000.
Felony: a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year may be imposed.
Whereas the first three charges are defined by their maximum allowable sentence in a Minnesota court, the last and most serious, a felony, is defined by its minimum sentence of one year imprisonment in a state prison or a federal prison (if you were charged with a federal offense). Misdemeanor charges usually result in less than a year in county jail and/or a fine or probation.
Punishment for a felony can extend beyond jail time to deportation for non-citizens, and loss of the right to vote or to own a firearm. Because a felony crime is generally considered much more serious, upon release it can also result in making the securing of employment and housing more difficult. Examples of felonies include: Murder, criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, arson, drug crimes, theft (above $1,000), and terrorist-level threats.
Examples of misdemeanors include: traffic citation (petty), trespassing (misdemeanor), and assaulting a police officer (gross).
If you’ve been charged with or are being investigated for a crime, call our office immediately. We offer 24 hour availability seven days a week and charge you nothing for your first consultation, whether at our office or in jail. When so much is at stake, you can’t afford to choose anyone but the very best and well-respected criminal lawyers. We’ve earned a national reputation for success, with dozens of jury acquittals and effective sentencing advocacy both in and out of the courtroom. Call the Minnesota criminal defense lawyers you can trust at Meshbesher & Spence.