A misdemeanor crime is less serious than a felony. Misdemeanors usually are distinguished from felonies by the seriousness of injury caused to another person, the cash value of property taken, or the amount of drugs in a person’s possession and whether there is proof of intent to sell or distribute the drugs.
In Minnesota, misdemeanors are categorized as gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors. Gross misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanor crimes in Minnesota. Petty misdemeanors are the least serious, as the potential sentence for these crimes does not include jail time.
For information on felonies, see Minnesota Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Some examples of gross misdemeanor crimes in Minnesota are disturbing the legislature or intimidating a member of the legislature, assault on a peace officer, criminal neglect of a vulnerable adult, and stalking.
Petty misdemeanors are traffic offenses and other citations.
Minnesota law requires that a criminal prosecution begin within a certain amount of time after a crime is committed or believed to have been committed. This criminal statute of limitations limits the length of time the state can wait before filing charges against a person. For more information, see Criminal Statute of Limitations.
A conviction for a misdemeanor crime in Minnesota can become part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A conviction for even a minor crime can hurt you when you are looking for a job, applying to rent a house or apartment, or applying for a professional license. A person convicted of misdemeanor possession of an illegal substance – even a tiny amount for personal use only – can be barred from ever receiving federal financial aid for students.
An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options, or represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.