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What Is a Gross Misdemeanor in Minnesota? Criminal Defense

What Is a Gross Misdemeanor in Minnesota?

4 weeks ago by Justin M. Schiks
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Minnesota has several degrees of criminal offenses, including gross misdemeanors. A gross misdemeanor charge isn’t as serious as a felony offense, but it’s more severe than a regular misdemeanor charge.

It is still not something you want on your record, and you should always take the matter seriously.

Don’t risk your future by facing a gross misdemeanor charge alone. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Woodbury, MN, has the knowledge and skills to represent you legally so you can move forward more positively with your life.

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Examples of Gross Misdemeanors in Minnesota

Common gross misdemeanors in Minnesota include:

  1. A first-offense DUI/DWI (with a BAC of at least .08%)
  2. Shoplifting $500 to $1,000 of merchandise
  3. Disorderly conduct in the form of public intoxication or brawling and disturbing the peace
  4. Domestic assault
  5. Reckless driving
  6. Disobeying an order of protection

No matter what type of charge you face, you’ll need to confer with a criminal defense lawyer to plan your defense.

Fines and Penalties

If you are charged with a gross misdemeanor, you may end up spending up to a year in the local county jail. The actual sentence you receive depends on factors like your criminal history (if any) and aggravating or mitigating circumstances.

While aggravating circumstances can increase the fines and punishments you may face, mitigating factors may reduce the sentence and fines.

What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Gross Misdemeanor?

While misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors may sound similar, there are important distinctions between the two.

A misdemeanor is the less severe of the two categories and is generally considered a lower-level offense. Examples of misdemeanors in Minnesota include minor traffic violations, petty theft, or disorderly conduct.  On the other hand, a gross misdemeanor is a more serious offense than a regular misdemeanor, such as a DWI, instead of a lesser traffic offense.

One key distinction between misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors is the potential jail time. While both can result in incarceration, gross misdemeanors carry higher maximum jail sentences compared to regular misdemeanors. This means that the consequences and potential impact on a person’s life may be more severe if they are convicted of a gross misdemeanor.

Elevating Misdemeanor Charges to Gross Misdemeanors

Some offenses are automatically gross misdemeanors under the law, while others can become elevated from misdemeanors due to aggravating factors. In such cases, the prosecutor identifies such aggravating factors and decides to issue the more serious gross misdemeanor charge.

In such situations, a skilled criminal defense lawyer will look for ways to challenge the aggravating factors or present mitigating factors to try to reduce the charge back to a misdemeanor when possible.

Examples of Aggravating Circumstances

Having a previous criminal record, whether a victim was injured, whether a victim was a child, and whether or not a firearm was used are examples of aggravating factors.

Examples of Mitigating Circumstances

Mitigating factors might include the ability of the offender to learn from their crime and to reform or a history of past good deeds.

Defendants may also get their sentence reduced if their addition to a drug or alcohol led to criminal behavior.

The amount you’re fined depends on the offense. For instance, a DUI may lead to a fine of $1,000, while disorderly conduct may impose a fine closer to half that amount. Therefore, the fine amount depends on the severity of the offense.

If you work with an experienced defense attorney, they may be able to argue for a sentence of probation, especially if you have not been previously charged with a crime.

They can also advise you of your legal rights and options. They’ll explain the charges against you and the related penalties.

An experienced defense lawyer can also negotiate with prosecutors by challenging the evidence and presenting defenses to try and get the charges reduced or dropped.

Knowing Your Rights as a Defendant

By working with an attorney, you can learn more about your rights and receive fairer treatment. These rights include the right to a speedy trial and the right to remain silent.

The police should read arrestees their Miranda rights if they plan to interrogate them at the time of their arrest and they’re placed in custody.

The Right to a Speedy Trial

As a defendant, you have a right to a speedy trial. This means your court date should be set 60 days before your initial court appearance. Filing motions can speed up the legal process so you can resolve the case much sooner.

The Right to Remain Silent

As a defendant, you have the right to plead the Fifth and remain silent if you believe what you say can be held against you.

Your attorney can advise you on when it’s okay to invoke this right during questioning. Anything you say can be used as evidence against you, so it’s best not to say anything without an attorney.

Defense Representation for Gross Misdemeanors

In addition to the difference in penalties, the legal process for addressing a gross misdemeanor may differ from that of a regular misdemeanor. For gross misdemeanors, the prosecuting attorney may use more resources and employ a more aggressive approach to obtain a conviction. This is due to the serious nature of the offense and the potential for longer jail time and higher fines.

If you find yourself facing charges for a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota, always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the legal process. A criminal defense attorney from JS Defense can provide valuable advice, help you understand the charges against you, and work to protect your rights.

The criminal justice system can be overwhelming, especially if it is your first encounter with the law. Having a knowledgeable attorney by your side can greatly improve your chances of achieving a favorable outcome. They can assess the evidence against you, build a strong defense strategy, and advocate for your best interests throughout the legal proceedings.

When it comes to gross misdemeanor charges in Minnesota, seeking professional legal representation is highly recommended. The prosecutor will work harder to secure a conviction, so you need to take steps to present a stronger defense.

Possible Defenses

Your lawyer may use several defenses when you’re charged with a gross misdemeanor crime. Examples of two common defenses include:

  1. Lack of intent. You did not have a guilty mind and, therefore, lacked the intent to commit the offense.
  2. Consent – The alleged victim consented to the act
  3. Self-defense – You were defending yourself or another party

Negotiating Lesser Charges

Your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor offense. They can highlight any weaknesses in the case and argue why lesser charges are more appropriate.

Accepting a plea deal to a reduced charge helps you avoid a trial or more severe charges.

Getting Witnesses to Testify on Your Behalf

Your attorney may also call witnesses to testify on your behalf to highlight inconsistent statements and poke holes in the prosecution’s case. This can be used to show reasonable doubt.

Need a Criminal Defense Attorney near Woodbury? Call JS Defense Right Away

If you’ve been charged with a gross misdemeanor or another type of crime, don’t try to go through the legal process alone. For a more positive outcome, you should contact an attorney. In Minnesota, schedule a consultation with the legal team at J.S. Defense, PA today. Call: 952-945-7824.



Award-winning criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of dismissals, acquittals, and positive resolutions for his clients. For over a decade, Justin has dedicated himself to criminal and DWI defense. He has advocated for individuals through every step of a case, from pre-charge representation through pretrial hearings and trials.


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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Justin M. Schiks who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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