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1st Degree or 3rd Degree: Which is worse?

Tonya Hinkemeyer

While it may seem a bit backwards to some people, the lower the degree of an offense (1st Degree, 2nd Degree, or 3rd Degree), the more serious charges.  Likewise the higher the degree (4th Degree or 5th Degree) means the offense is of a less serious nature.  Many, but not all,  1st and 2nd Degree offenses are felonies. Likewise, many, but not all, 4th Degree and 5th Degree offenses are misdemeanor level offenses and can include penalties of up to one year in jail and a fine up to $3,000.

The level of criminal offenses in Minnesota are as follows:  a Petty Misdemeanor, which is a petty offense prohibited by statute, does not constitute a crime and carries a maximum punishment of a $300 fine.  The next highest level of criminal offense is Minnesota is a Misdemeanor.  A Misdemeanor is a crime which carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.  The next highest criminal offense in Minnesota  is a Gross Misdemeanor.  A Gross Misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.  The highest level of criminal offense in Minnesota is a Felony.  Felonies can be punishable with imprisonment and fines exceeding $5,000.

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