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criminal law faqs

WHAT AM I CHARGED WITH AND WILL I GO TO JAIL?


When a person is charged with a crime in Minnesota they will either receive a citation (ticket) or a Complaint. On either document it will state the charge and what level of offense the charge is. In Minnesota there are four different levels of offenses.  


  • Petty Misdemeanor- A petty misdemeanor in Minnesota is the lowest level of offense that exists and is not considered a crime. A person convicted of a petty misdemeanor can be fined no more than $300. No jail time will be required for a petty misdemeanor. 
  • Misdemeanor- A misdemeanor is the lowest level of crime in Minnesota. A person convicted of a misdemeanor can be fined no more than $1,000 and/or spend up to 90 days in jail. Examples of a misdemeanor are: 4th Degree DWI, 5th Degree Assault, Driving After Revocation, Theft of a value less than $500.
  • Gross Misdemeanor- A person convicted of a gross misdemeanor can be fined no more than $3,000 and/or 1 year in jail.  Examples of a gross misdemeanor are: 2nd and 3rd Degree DWI, Domestic Assault if a person has prior assault related convictions, Theft of a value over $500 but less than $1000.
  • Felony- A person convicted of a felony can be sentenced to serve over 1 year of jail. The fine amount and jail time amount depends on the severity of the charge. Examples of felony are:  1st Degree DWI, Domestic Assault if a person has prior assault related convictions, murder, Theft of a value over $1000.  


 I HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A DWI. WILL I LOSE MY LICENSE OR VEHICLE?


Depending on the level of DWI or DWI Test Refusal a person has been charged with will determine whether or not they lose their license or vehicle.  In Minnesota it is a crime to refuse to take the in-station breath test requested by law enforcement. 


  • 1st Offense DWI- A person that receives a first time DWI .08 and under .16 blood alcohol concentration will lose their license for 90 days. The 90 days loss of license can be reduced to 30 days with a guilty plea to the DWI. They are eligible for a temporary drivers license. A person that receives a first time DWI over .16 blood alcohol concentration (or with a child in the car or Test Refusal) will lose their license for 1 year. The Government will not request that the vehicle be forfeited.  Ignition Interlock is an option for drivers to install in their vehicles with additional conditions.   
  • 2nd Offense DWI/Test Refusal- A person that receives a second DWI or a Test Refusal within 10 years of a prior DWI related offense or license revocation will lose their license for 1 year and have their license plates impounded. The Government will not request that the vehicle be forfeited. A person that receives a second time DWI with over .16 blood alcohol concentration will lose their license for 2 years. A temporary license is not an option. The Government will request that the vehicle be forfeited. Ignition Interlock is an option for drivers to install in their vehicles with additional conditions.  
  • 3rd Offense DWI/Test Refusal- A person that receives a third DWI or a Test Refusal within 10 years of three prior DWI related offenses or license revocations  will have their license cancelled as "Inimical to Public Safety", lose their license for 3 years and have their license plates impounded. A temporary license is not an option. The Government will request that the vehicle be forfeited. Ignition Interlock is an option for drivers to install in their vehicles with additional conditions. 
  • 4th Offense or more DWI/Test Refusal- A person that receives four or more DWIs or a Test Refusals within 10 years of three prior DWI related offenses or license revocations  will have their license cancelled as "Inimical to Public Safety", will lose their license for 4 to 6 years and have their license plates impounded.  The Government will request that the vehicle be forfeited.  Ignition Interlock is an option for drivers to install in their vehicles with additional conditions. 


IF I AM CONVICTED OF A CRIME WILL THE CONVICTION BE ON MY CRIMINAL RECORD?


Depending on how your case has been negotiated the conviction may or may not be on your criminal record. How a case is negotiated by a lawyer is essential to a person's future. There are numerous ways a conviction would not appear on a person's record:


  • Dismissal-  If the case is dismissed by the prosecutor or the Court, no conviction will appear on a person's criminal record though the public record will show that they were charged with a crime and the case was dismissed.  
  • Stay of Adjudication- As a part of negotiations if a person receives a stay of adjudication no conviction will occur and will not appear on their record as a conviction. The person will have to verbally state in court what happened during the crime. 
  • Expungement- Expungement occurs after a person's criminal case has been completed which may include probationary time and other conditions. As a part of the expungement process a person requests the Court to take a criminal conviction off of their public record.  


Having an experienced lawyer that knows the local prosecutors and judges is key to helping you avoid the issues discussed above. Call today and talk to one of our lawyers about making sure you understand your case and receive the protection you need to avoid jail, keep your drivers license/car or keeping a conviction off of your record.  

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