What is a Misdemeanor in Minnesota?

lion statuteA Minnesota Misdemeanor is a crime for which a sentence of 90 days or less, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both, may be imposed.  Minnesota Statutes Section 609.02, subd. 3.

It is the least serious level of crime.  (A petty is defined as not a crime.)

Even though the maximum penalty is 90 days jail, judges rarely sentence anyone to the maximum.

Compared to a Gross and a Petty:  Sometimes we use the term “simple Misdemeanor” to distinguish from a Gross (big) and from a Petty (small).

What is a Misdemeanor conviction?

Level of charge vs. conviction:  A Misdemeanor level conviction can result from a case where the defendant was adjudicated guilty after a guilty plea or verdict to a felony, gross, or misdemeanor offense.  This is based on Minnesota Statutes Section 609.13 (2017), subd. 3:

Subd. 3.  Misdemeanors.  If a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor and is sentenced, or if the imposition of sentence is stayed, and the defendant is thereafter discharged without sentence, the conviction is deemed to be for a misdemeanor for purposes of determining the penalty for a subsequent offense.

As discussed on the felony and gross pages, however, a misdemeanor level conviction that resulted from a guilty plea or verdict on a felony charge, may still bring with it certain felony-type consequences.

Is a stay of imposition better than another type of probation?

In a misdemeanor case, no.  A stay of imposition does not reduce the level of conviction compared to the level of the charge.

Can a traffic violation be a Minnesota misdemeanor?

Can a traffic violation be a misdemeanor in Minnesota?

Can a traffic violation be a misdemeanor in Minnesota?

Every level of crime can be traffic, drivers license or motor vehicle related.   Criminal Vehicular Operation is typically a felony, though can be a Gross, for example.  A prosecutor can charge a Speeding Ticket as a misdemeanor.  In most cases, however, prosecutors charge speeding as a petty.

Regardless of level of offense, any drivers license, driving or motor vehicle related offense or violation will be certified by the Court to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for notation on the person’s drivers license record and potential revocation or other action against the drivers license.

How long do misdemeanors stay on your record in Minnesota?

Forever.  Any criminal conviction will stay on your public court record forever.  They never go away just with time passing.

In fact, people do genealogical research on ancestors using court records, including criminal records.  A defendant may eventually petition the court for expungement, or sealing of their criminal court record.  But most find it too difficult.   Those who do have no guarantee that a judge will grant it.

A good defense attorney can often prevent a conviction in the first place.  This is the fastest, cheapest and best way to keep your record clean.

Examples of Minnesota misdemeanor charges

Domestic assault

Disorderly conduct


Theft – shoplifting


These are the most common types of cases that prosecutors charge at this level of offense.

Do I need a defense lawyer for a Minnesota misdemeanor case?

Minnesota Misdemeanor Attorney Thomas Gallagher

Minnesota Misdemeanor Attorney Thomas Gallagher

Yes.  The consequences of a criminal conviction record can reduce your annual income for decades, due to employment background checks.

Other consequences follow a public criminal record.  In some cases, you may lose your civil rights due to a conviction.

The fastest, cheapest and best way to keep your record clean is to hire a good defense attorney.  Thomas C. Gallagher is a Minnesota Defense Attorney with the best ratings and 30 years experience helping clients keep their records clean.

Question?  Call Defense Attorney Thomas Gallagher at 612 333-1500