Penalties for violent crimes committed in Minnesota tend to be strict and are often broad, touching on various aspects of the accused’s life. If the government convicts you of having committed a violent crime, you could be facing significant prison time. Fines and collateral consequences are possible. You’ll also have a criminal record that affects your future.

Because of the seriousness of being arrested and charged for committing a violent crime, it’s crucial to secure legal representation as soon as possible. Ringstrom Law will help you handle the allegations against you. We will either defend you at trial or find the best solution for mitigating, reducing or dismissing the charges.

Violent Crimes in Minnesota

Phrases like “violent crimes” and “crimes of violence” can be understood in two ways within the context of Minnesota law and the criminal justice system. First, there is the common understanding shared by criminal law experts and citizen non-experts alike. For example, someone charged with assault might say to a family member, “The government is accusing me of committing a violent crime.” Or a prosecutor might state to a jury in court, “Ms. Smith has clearly committed a crime of violence.”    

In addition to this common understanding, Minnesota Statute 624.712 includes a long list of crimes officially designated as “crimes of violence.” Here we will list and discuss several of the crimes on that list. Later in the article, we will further address the meaning of this list as a whole.

First, second, and third-degree murder

Of these three degrees of murder, first-degree is the only one involving premeditation, or the research and planning of a killing before it is carried out. Second and third-degree murder encompass various forms of intentional and unintentional homicide. 

First and second-degree manslaughter

All manslaughters are homicides (the killing of a human being), but not all homicides are manslaughters. Manslaughter cases generally involve negligence or recklessness. 

First through fifth-degree assault

An act of inflicting unwanted physical contact or physical harm is an assault.  An assault can also be an act intended to cause fear of physical harm or death. A mere attempt to commit harm or fear or harm is another way to commit assault. First through third degree assaults are more serious than fourth and fifth-degree assault, neither of which are felonies. 

Domestic assault 

The alleged victim of a domestic assault is often a spouse or significant other. Alternatively, the victim can be a parent, a sibling, a roommate. It must be someone with whom the defendant has a family or household relationship. 

Gang-related crime

Minnesota deems even an ostensibly non-violent crime to be a “crime of violence” if it is done to benefit or help a gang. 

Using drugs to facilitate crime

Using a drug to physically hurt someone, or to help accomplish another crime, is itself regarded as a violent crime.

Aggravated and simple robbery

False imprisonment and kidnapping

Sex trafficking and prostitution

First, second, third, and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct

Minnesota law applies some of the harshest consequences to convictions for criminal sexual conduct. Life in prison is possible for the most serious cases and certain repeat offenders. The requirement to register as a predatory offender is a more common but still onerous consequence. 

Malicious punishment of a child

Those accused of this crime have allegedly performed excessively cruel or forceful discipline on a child.

Endangerment or neglect of a child

Theft of a controlled substance

Minnesota law doesn’t consider every act of theft to be a crime of violence. But stealing certain kinds of controlled substances does fit the definition. 

First and second-degree arson

First and second-degree burglary

Drive-by shooting

Illegal possession of certain firearms

Under many conditions, of course, it is lawful to possess a firearm. But Minnesota does prohibit the ownership of machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, and trigger activators. This holds unless the owner meets state reporting requirements or an exception applies. 


Terroristic threats

The act of threatening to commit certain violent crimes is itself a separate crime of violence. 

Harassment and stalking

Shooting at a public transit facility or vehicle

Any felony drug charge and potentially other drug charges

Penalties for Conviction of Violent Crime

Minnesota classifies most violent crimes as felonies. Sentences may include one or more of the following elements:

  • Jail time
  • Prison time
  • Fines
  • Restitution (e.g. for the alleged victim’s medical bills) 
  • Required counseling or treatment programs
  • Registration as a predatory offender 
  • Community service

In addition, if a crime is included in the “crimes of violence” list of Minn. Stat. 624.712, there are significant effects related to gun/firearm rights, expungements, and pardons.

Regarding gun rights, Minn. Stat. 624.713 forbids those convicted of a crime of violence from possessing certain items. The items include handguns and pistols, semiautomatic firearms, certain other firearms, and ammunition. If someone is caught with a gun or ammunition after losing this right, the government is likely to bring new criminal charges. Petitioning the court for a restoration of gun rights is a path to a remedy. It succeeds for some offenders, but certainly not all. 

Minnesota’s “crimes of violence” list and its expungement-eligible list do not entirely overlap. This means that some violent crimes can be expunged if the proper conditions are met. For example, 5th degree drug possession is regarded as a crime of violence but is eligible for expungement after a waiting period. But under the state’s current expungement law, violent felony crimes are largely ineligible for expungement. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed since the conviction.   

Regarding pardons, a conviction for a “crime of violence” doubles the waiting period for a Minnesota Board of Pardons application. Five years (non-violent crimes) becomes 10 years. (Minn. Stat. 683.02 has more information about the state’s pardon procedure.) 

Defense of Violent Crime Charges

Even nonviolent charges can be difficult to fight. But charges for violent crimes have the disadvantage of alleged tangible injuries and damages. If the evidence against a defendant is weak, allegations related to physical violence still have power. This is also true even if there are mitigating circumstances that make a defendant less culpable. Violence can influence the emotions of a jury, judge, or prosecutor and overwhelm their reasoning abilities and the burden of proof. Take two cases where reasonable doubt is similarly strong. For example, a murder defendant may have a harder time getting acquitted than an embezzlement defendant. The physical violence of a murder is frightening and abhorrent. The victim’s harm is more visceral. This makes a criminal defense attorney’s expertise in jury selection particularly important to a not-guilty verdict.
Even seemingly insignificant evidence or tactics can make a meaningful difference. This is true whether the outcome  is a contested hearing (in which the goal is getting a case dismissed pre-trial), a trial, or a negotiated resolution. Prosecutors often fight for the most severe penalty the law will allow in cases of serious violent crime. Thus, understanding how to fight back is critical. Ringstrom Law’s attorneys use strategy, timing, and experience to seek the best outcome for every client. We take the time to get to know our clients and their stories. We scrutinize the evidence and information gathered by the government. Often, we generate our own evidence by interviewing witnesses and other parties. And we always keep our clients informed so that they understand the path forward.  

Does Minnesota Have a Stand Your Ground Law for Violent Crimes?

“Stand your ground” laws are a common media angle on violent crime. The concept is essentially a form of self-defense law, and its enactment varies from state to state. Minnesota does not have a “stand your ground” law. Instead, there is the duty to retreat in certain situations of self-defense. There are a few situations in which there is no duty to retreat. If you feel threatened, you may only use deadly force as a last resort. Whether a state’s legal system uses the duty to retreat or a “stand your ground” law, most of the states have adopted the castle doctrine. This means that a person is not expected to retreat in his or her home. 

An attorney from Ringstrom Law will be able to explain the nuances of self-defense. We will discuss whether this defense strategy will work with the charges against you. This line of defense frequently arises in charges involving weapons violations, assault, homicide, and domestic violence.

Who to Contact When Facing Violent Crime Charges Near Me

When your freedom and livelihood are on the line because you’ve been charged with a violent crime, you need to know what you are facing. You also need to understand your legal options and rights. Contact Ringstrom Law at 218-284-0484 as soon as possible. Before making any statements that could damage your case, talk to a criminal defense attorney. Do the same before taking other actions that might make a good outcome difficult to achieve. We are ready to handle the variety of issues involved in the charges you are facing.

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