What are Minnesota “Crimes of Violence?“
Minnesota Statutes § 624.712, subdivision 5 offers a statutory definition. And it includes felony convictions of murder; robbery; assault; false imprisonment; criminal sexual conduct; malicious punishment, neglect or endangerment of a child; prostitution; theft of a firearm or controlled substance; arson; burglary; unlawful possession of firearms; threats; harassment; and controlled substance crimes; or an attempt to commit these.
So, this statute is about civil rights and guns.
But nineteen other Minnesota statutes reference or incorporate it in 203 instances. Clearly, its impact is wide and deep.
And these 203 statutory references to “Minnesota crimes of violence” cover a range of topics:
- Driving Records
- Restoration Of Civil Rights
- Human Services Background Studies
- Records & Effect Of Juvenile Court
- Testimony Of Witnesses
- Property Forfeiture
- Certain Persons Not To Possess Firearms
Moreover, this statute defining felony “Minnesota crimes of violence” can send a person to prison for simple possession.
And, under this statute the most common “crimes of violence” are non-violent crimes!
Non-violent crimes in “Crimes of Violence” list in Minn. Stat. § 624.712, subd. 5
So consider these examples of non-violent crimes included in the definition of “Minnesota Crimes of Violence” in Minn. Stat. § 624.712, subd. 5:
- possession of 46 grams (1.6 ounces) of plant-form marijuana
- possession of 0.30 grams of marijuana wax (size of a thumbnail)
- growing one marijuana plant
Marijuana possession felonies: More than 42.5 grams (about 1.5 ounces) of plant-form marijuana is a felony to possess. And over 0.25 grams of the resinous form for a first-timer, or any amount for someone with a prior; is a felony to possess. See Weight Thresholds for Marijuana Criminal Prosecutions in Minnesota.
But, since Minnesota statutes define “crimes of violence” to include non-violent crimes, this begs some questions. Is this law Constitutional? And, is the law fair or just?
Or, will a jury refuse to enforce a nonsense law that attempts to define words opposite to their meaning?
So far, the courts have not yet chosen to reign in this legislative abuse.
But, any jury can refuse to accept an unjust law.
And the people of Minnesota can ask the legislature to repair this injustice; by removing non-violent crimes from the list of Minnesota crimes of violence.
If we want to strip a person with a violent crime conviction of citizenship rights for life; why are non-violent crimes on this list? But the law defies its own internal logic.
We should reform this law, to make it less unfair. But until then, we can refuse to enforce an unjust law. And that is a cornerstone reason for the jury trial and the jury’s power.
The Minnesota “Crimes of Violence” statute:
Minn. Stat. § 624.712, subd. 5. (2019) ‘”Crime of violence’ means: felony convictions of the following offenses:
sections 609.185 (murder in the first degree); 609.19 (murder in the second degree); 609.195 (murder in the third degree); 609.20 (manslaughter in the first degree); 609.205 (manslaughter in the second degree); 609.215 (aiding suicide and aiding attempted suicide);
609.221 (assault in the first degree); 609.222 (assault in the second degree); 609.223 (assault in the third degree); 609.2231 (assault in the fourth degree); 609.224 (assault in the fifth degree); 609.2242 (domestic assault); 609.2247 (domestic assault by strangulation);
609.229 (crimes committed for the benefit of a gang); 609.235 (use of drugs to injure or facilitate crime); 609.24 (simple robbery); 609.245 (aggravated robbery); 609.25 (kidnapping); 609.255 (false imprisonment);
609.322 (solicitation, inducement, and promotion of prostitution; sex trafficking); 609.342 (criminal sexual conduct in the first degree); 609.343 (criminal sexual conduct in the second degree); 609.344 (criminal sexual conduct in the third degree); 609.345 (criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree); 609.377 (malicious punishment of a child); 609.378 (neglect or endangerment of a child); 609.486 (commission of crime while wearing or possessing a bullet-resistant vest);
609.52 (involving theft of a firearm and theft involving the theft of a controlled substance, an explosive, or an incendiary device); 609.561 (arson in the first degree); 609.562 (arson in the second degree); 609.582, subdivision 1 or 2 (burglary in the first and second degrees); 609.66, subdivision 1e (drive-by shooting); 609.67 (unlawfully owning, possessing, operating a machine gun or short-barreled shotgun); 609.71 (riot); 609.713 (terroristic threats); 609.749 (harassment); 609.855, subdivision 5 (shooting at a public transit vehicle or facility); and chapter 152 (drugs, controlled substances); and an attempt to commit any of these offenses.”Minn. Stat. § 624.712, subd. 5 (2019), Minnesota Crimes of Violence statute
Practical implications of the current Minnesota “Crimes of Violence” law
So if you face any of the felony charges on the statute’s list; know that a conviction results in a default lifetime loss of civil rights to firearms.
And though some might eventually get restoration; most never will.
And considering that merely possessing a firearm triggers mandatory prison for an ineligible person, caution is in order.
So we see people who lost their civil rights for a non-violent crime; and later serve prison time for another non-violent crime, simple possession. But outcomes like that – imprisoning non-violent criminals for possession – violate the apparent purpose of the law and basic fairness.
But, for now, the last defense may be a good criminal defense lawyer.
So, educate yourself about the Minnesota Crimes of Violence statute, before it’s too late. And bring some real lawyer power to bear.
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About Attorney Thomas C. Gallagher
Thomas C. Gallagher is a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis with over three decades experience helping people. And this includes charges of Minnesota Crimes of Violence. So he developed expertise in gun laws. And now he teaches CLE classes on gun laws to other lawyers.
Attorney Thomas Gallagher handles every kind of gun charge case. And he helps people with other criminal charges with gun enhancements.