Betts Legal Services – Protecting Your Rights in the St. Paul Courts
While all crimes have a negative impact on the community, some crimes have a greater impact than others. These crimes may deprive people of their property, their dignity, their physical, mental, or emotional safety, and even their life.
Such crimes are called “felonies.” A felony is considered a “serious” crime because it poses significant danger to the safety or rights of people in the community. As such, the State of Minnesota and/or the U.S. Government have created laws banning such actions and prescribing prison as the penalty for performing them.
However, a person who has been accused of a crime has rights as well. One of the most important of these is the right to stand before a jury of your peers and defend yourself against the charges. If you are innocent, you have the right to clear yourself. If you are guilty, you have the right to fight against excessive charges and attempt to mitigate your sentence to what is truly fair for your unique situation. At Betts Legal Services, we take these rights very seriously and our goal is to represent you aggressively and help you navigate through the complex legal system.
Types of Felonies:
The first step in determining how best to defend against your charges is to determine where they fall on Minnesota’s severity scale and what the presumptive (“normal”) sentence is. Most felonies in Minnesota are divided into 12 levels of severity, from Level 1, for which the minimum sentence is a year and a day in state prison, to Level 11, for which the sentence begins at 25.5 years. First-degree murder makes up a functional 12th level, with a mandatory life sentence.
Level 1: 1 year and one day to 1 year and 7 months
Ex: Forgery, fleeing a police officer, child endangerment, 4th-degree assault, sale of simulated controlled substance
Level 2: 1 year and one day to 1 year and 9 months
Ex: Theft crimes ($5,000 or less), check forgery ($251-$2,500), 5th-degree drug crime, coercion ($301-$2,499)
Level 3: 1 year and one day to 1 year and 11 months
Ex: Theft crimes (over $5,000), obstruction of justice, false imprisonment (restraint), drive-by shooting of unoccupied vehicles or buildings.
Level 4: 1 year and one day to 2.5 years
Ex: Domestic assault, false imprisonment with substantial bodily harm, perjury, criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult, 3rd-degree burglary, bribery,
Level 5: 1.5 to 4 years
Ex: Perjury, simple robbery, 2nd degree manslaughter (hunting accident), criminal vehicular operation (great bodily harm or injury to unborn child), 2nd-degree burglary
Level 6: 1.75 to 4.75 years
Ex: Kidnapping (safe release), 1st-degree burglary, 2nd-degree assault, 2nd-degree aggravated robbery
Level 7: 3 to 6 years
Ex: Financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult (over $35,000), felony while impaired – 1st degree, wildfire arson (damage to over 5 dwellings, burns over 500 acres, or damages crops in excess of $100,000)
Level 8: 4 to 9 years
Ex: 1st-degree rioting, 1st- and 2nd-degree manslaughter of an unborn child, kidnapping (victim under 16 or anyone kept in an unsafe place), drive-by shooting (toward a person or occupied vehicle or building), criminal vehicular homicide, 2nd-degree drug crimes
Level 9: 7 years and 2 months to 13 years and 2 months
Ex: 3rd-degree murder (some cases), 1st-degree manslaughter, manufacture of methamphetamine, 1st-degree drug crimes, 1st-degree assault
Level 10: 12.5 to 20 years
Ex: 3rd-degree murder (some cases), 3rd-degree murder of an unborn child, 2nd-degree murder (unintentional), 2nd- degree murder of an unborn child (some cases), fleeing a police officer that results in death.
Level 11: 25.5 to 35.5 years
Ex: 2nd-degree murder of an unborn child, 2nd-degree murder (intentional or unintentional in a drive-by shooting), adulteration that causes death.
First-degree Murder: Life imprisonment
It is worth noting that some crimes are unranked and will be granted sentences according to the court’s determination. Unranked felonies range from cigarette tax violations to treason.
Sex-related crimes are ranked separately, on an 8-rung scale from A to H, with Level A representing the most severe crimes, as follows:
Level A: 12 to 30 years
Ex: 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct
Level B: 7.5 to 25 years
Ex: 1st-degree sex trafficking, 2nd-degree criminal sexual conduct
Level C: 4 to 15 years
Ex: 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct (some cases), 2nd-degree sex trafficking
Level D: 3 years to 11 years and 8 months
Ex: Dissemination of child pornography (subsequent offense), 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct, 2nd-degree criminal sexual conduct (some cases)
Level E: 2 to 10 years
Ex: Dissemination of child pornography (1st offense), use of minors in sexual performance, 4th-degree criminal sexual conduct (some cases)
Level F: 1.5 to 7 years
Ex: Possession of child pornography (subsequent offense), 4th- and 5th-degree criminal sexual conduct
Level G: 1.25 to 5 years
Ex: Possession of child pornography (1st offense), indecent exposure, solicitation of children to engage in sexual conduct, 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct (actor between 2-4 years older than compliant)
Level H: 1 year and one day to 3 years
Ex: Failure to register as a sex offender
Criminal law can be complex, and in addition to the “normal” sentence for your crime, other factors may come into play. For example, the amount of prison time you may receive within the given range largely depends on your criminal history. Aggravating or mitigating factors may result in a sentence with more or less prison time than the average range; and at the court’s discretion, they may choose to substitute local jail time, fines, electronic monitoring, community service, or other forms of probation instead of executing the prison sentence.
Betts Legal Services: Working for Your Best-Case Scenario
Because so many factors play into the final outworking of your sentence, it’s very important to obtain strong legal representation at the very beginning of the criminal process – beginning at the time of your arrest. At Betts Legal Services, we’re committed to standing by you through the entire process and helping you fight for your best situation.