What to Expect: The Legal Process for Criminal Charges in Minnesota
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Listed below are the basic steps and some general information concerning dealing with criminal charges in the State of Minnesota:
A law enforcement officer may arrest a person if he or she has probable cause to believe that a person has committed a specific crime. When an arrest is made, the person accused of a crime may be ticketed and released, or taken into custody and transported to the police station. At the police station they are fingerprinted and booked.
The Summons and Complaint is mailed to the Defendant. This document will inform the person of the charges. There are four levels of offenses in Minnesota.
Petty Misdemeanor – Examples of petty misdemeanors include minor
traffic offenses such as speeding. A person will not serve jail time if they
are convicted of a petty misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a $300 fine. Typically,
a formal Complaint is not issued in petty misdemeanor cases. Instead, the person
receives a ticket. A petty misdemeanor is not a criminal offense.
Misdemeanor – Examples of misdemeanor cases include: disorderly conduct, thefts of $500 or less where a dangerous weapon was not involved, first time DWI where the reading was .08 or more but less than .20, and first time 5th degree assault. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is 90 days in jail and/or a $1000 fine. Typically, a formal Complaint is not issued in misdemeanor cases. Instead, the person receives a ticket, also called a tab charge. If the Defendant wants a formal Complaint from the prosecutor, either he or his lawyer (if he is represented by an attorney), must request a formal Complaint.
Gross Misdemeanor – Examples of some gross misdemeanors include but are not limited to: first time DWI with test result .20 or more, some repeat DWI offenses, fifth degree criminal sexual conduct, and certain theft charges where a dangerous weapon was not used and the amount of the alleged theft was more than $500 but not more than $1,000. The maximum penalty for a gross misdemeanor is one year in jail and/or a $3000 fine.
Felony – Examples of felonies include: murder, armed robbery, most drug offenses, most criminal sexual conduct offenses, criminal vehicular operation where there was substantial or great bodily harm to another person, a fourth DWI offense within a period of 10 years, and theft where the amount of the alleged theft is over $1,000. The maximum penalties for a felonies range from a year and a day in prison up to life imprisonment, depending on the type case. Maximum fine amounts also vary based on the severity level of the alleged offense.