Types of Gun Offenses in Minnesota
The Minnesota Criminal Code describes several different crimes related to firearms, many of which are felony offenses. Some of the most common gun charges include:
Carrying a Firearm Without a Permit: It’s a misdemeanor to have a gun on your person, in a vehicle, or otherwise under your control in a public place unless you have the proper permit. However, a subsequent offense is charged as a felony.
Unlawful Possession of a Gun: Some firearms charges are based upon the fact that you’re not supposed to be in possession because of your past history or criminal activity. For instance, it’s illegal to have a gun in your control if:
- You’ve been convicted of a felony in Minnesota or the equivalent in another state;
- There are pending charges against you for a felony offense;
- You were convicted of domestic violence against a family or household member;
- Within the last three years, you’ve been convicted for a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor involving drugs;
- You’re being treated for chemical dependency; or,
- You are in the US illegally.
Assault with a Dangerous Weapon: When you use a firearm to harm or threaten injury to another person, the crime is a Second Degree Assault charge – a felony.
Intentional or Reckless Discharge of a Firearm: Though both felonies, reckless discharge of a gun is a lesser offense than the intentional version. A prosecutor must prove that you discharged the weapon with conscious disregard of the substantial risk you were creating.
Additional Types of Gun Charges in Minnesota: There are too many firearms crimes to describe in detail, but some other examples include:
- Brandishing a firearm;
- Possessing an unlicensed gun;
- Unlawful possession of an assault weapon
- Transferring a firearm without a background check; and,
- Carrying a loaded gun in a vehicle.
Also, note that there are many federal laws regarding the sale, possession, control, or use of firearms. For many, a conviction could lead to much harsher consequences as compared to violations of state statutes.
Penalties for Violating Minnesota Criminal Weapons Laws
The criminal punishment for a conviction on firearms laws depends on how it’s charged, as there are three classifications for gun crimes in Minnesota:
- For a misdemeanor conviction, you face up to 90 days in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both.
- If you’re convicted of a gross misdemeanor gun crime, you could be sentenced to one year in jail, a fine up to $3,000, or both.
- A conviction on felony firearms charges will include a minimum sentence of 366 days in prison. The exact terms of your incarceration and fines are based upon the specific type of gun crime, but the range could include:
- A prison sentence of up to two years, along with a $5,000 fine;
- Up to five years imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000; or,
- A maximum of 10 years in prison, plus a fine up to $20,000.
Beyond the crime itself, the specific penalties for a conviction of gun charges in Minnesota will also depend on surrounding circumstances. A judge will turn to the state’s sentencing guidelines, which rank the offense on a severity level from 1 to 11. Your criminal history will also add points to your score. The higher the number, the more severe the penalty.
You should also note that there are collateral consequences to being convicted of a gun crime, especially a felony. You’ll lose your right to carry or possess a firearm, you may not be able to vote, and the matter will show up on a background check. You may have trouble finding employment, be disqualified for loans, your professional licenses could be revoked, and other implications.
A Minnesota Firearm Lawyer Can Assist with Defense Strategies
Based upon the criminal penalties and collateral consequences of firearms charges, it’s important to do all you can to fight the charges and avoid a conviction. The first step is retaining an experienced gun crimes attorney to develop a solid defense strategy. At the outset, you should keep in mind that there may be weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case against you. An experienced lawyer can exploit these flaws and raise reasonable doubt in the mind of the judge or jury.
Other defenses to firearms charges may include:
- Lack of intent, in crimes where proof of intent is necessary;
- Unreasonable search and seizure in violation of your constitutional rights;
- Self-defense, defense of others, and when you’re defending your own property;
- Lack of control over the firearm, such that someone else was in possession; and,
- Many more.
Contact a Minnesota Firearm Attorney Regarding Defense Options
For more information on strategies for fighting gun crime charges, please contact Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. to set up a no-cost consultation. You can reach our St. Paul, MN office by calling 651-222-6603 or visiting us online. We represent clients throughout Minnesota and North Dakota in a wide range of criminal matters, in both state and federal court. Our team looks forward to working with you to fight firearms-related charges.