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What is the difference between a misdemeanor and felony?

| Jun 6, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

As is the case in many other states, crimes in Minnesota are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. Each one of these has different offense classes that fall under its umbrella. The penalties associated with each crime increase the more serious a defendant’s charges are.


These types of offenses are considered to be less serious crimes than felonies. As such, they generally carry with them a jail sentence of no more than one year.

The federal government classifies misdemeanors into three different classes. A Class A is the most serious and a Class C is the least.

Anyone convicted of a Class A offense may be ordered to spend up to a year in jail. A defendant charged with a Class B misdemeanor may be sentenced to up to six months of imprisonment. Individuals convicted of Class C misdemeanors face up to 30 days in jail.

Prosecutors are generally afforded a significant amount of flexibility in punishing these types of offenses.


The most serious type of criminal offense that an individual can be charged with is a felony. A conviction for this crime carries with it a lengthier sentence than a misdemeanor. Felons are also generally incarcerated in a state or federal prison as opposed to a city or county jail.

Federal officials classify felonies into five classes. A Class A felony is the most serious type of offense. Individuals convicted of such a crime can face either the death penalty or be sentenced to life in prison. Anyone convicted of a Class B offense may be ordered to spend 25 plus years in lockup. Class C offenders may be sentenced to between 10 and 25 years, Class D five to 10 and Class E between one and five.

Criminal offenses that fall under the felony umbrella include burglary, arson, rape, kidnapping and murder.

Defendants in Minneapolis who are convicted of crimes may struggle to retain their current or land future employment as well as driving or professional licenses. They may also be unable to obtain student loans or custody of their kids. Anyone who has been accused of violating the law should consult with a criminal defense attorney to learn what legal options are available to them in their case.