Have you recently been charged with a felony and are unsure of its impact on your future? This can be an emotional time that comes with a lot of stress, making it vital that you seek the representation of a criminal defense attorney that has significant trial and sentencing experience with felony offenses – whether they arise from State or Federal charges. A felony charge can alter your life in the short and long-term and impact your future and freedom. The first step to protecting the life you have built for yourself and your family: hiring the right lawyer for the job.
What Does It Mean to Have a Felony Conviction in Minnesota?
A felony charge in Minnesota (MN Stat § 609.13) is a serious crime punishable by a term of one or more years in prison. If a crime occurs on an Indian Reservation or other U.S. federal property, a federal charge can also arise. In some instances, crimes that are not defined as felonies can be charged as so if an offender has certain prior convictions. Unlike degree charges, Minnesota law does not classify these crimes into different classes; instead, Minnesota criminal statutes provide guidance on which penalties are possible for each offense. An individual’s sentencing for felonies varies by crime and an offender’s criminal history and is laid out in the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.
There are varying types of felony crimes in Minnesota, including:
- Murder in the first degree
- Drug offenses
- Mail fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Identity theft
- Animal cruelty
- Controlled substances
- Domestic assault
- First Degree DWI
Each crime varies in possible penalties depending on the severity and an offender’s criminal history. With the right lawyer, the Court can consider other factors to lessen an offender’s sentence. In Minnesota, criminal prosecution must begin within a certain amount of time after the crime is committed or believed to have been committed. The Criminal Statute of Limitations (MN Stat § 628.26) limits the length of time a state can wait before filing charges against an individual, but the length of time varies by crime and case.
Consequences of a Felony Conviction
Being charged with a felony will change your life in many ways, making it vital to find a dedicated criminal defense lawyer to represent you. Many in today’s society are unaware of a felony charge’s repercussions, from voting and firearms rights to employment, housing, and student loans.
Those convicted of a felony in Minnesota are stripped of their voting or civil rights until all parts of the sentence are finished, including probation, parole, and supervised release. If you are not currently serving a felony sentence, you are eligible to vote. If you’re uncertain whether you’re eligible to vote, Minnesota offers numerous resources to help felons navigate their new lives. (MN Stat § 609.165) (MN Stat § 201.014)
Similar to voting rights, if you’re charged with a felony in Minnesota, you cannot possess a firearm until all parts of the sentence are finished to include probation, parole, and supervised release. In most cases, the individual can then possess a firearm only in the residing location rather than in multiple states. Under Minnesota law, a “firearm” is considered a weapon that discharges a projectile by means of an explosive, a gas, or compressed air, “firearm” includes pistols, assault weapons, and almost all other “guns.” (MN Stat § 609.165)
Once you’ve been charged with a felony, your employer may fire you. It is essential to discuss the timing of any required disclosures about the case to your employer with your lawyer. Sometimes, with the right timing and advice, you can maintain your job. If convicted, though, having a felony conviction on your record may make it challenging to find future job opportunities. In a field such as nursing, the professional licensing board may take away your license or refuse to grant you one in the future. It is essential to discuss the impact of a felony conviction or plea agreement with a criminal defense attorney who will inform you of potential collateral consequences.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel; however, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, in 2009, the “Ban the Box” law was passed to provide job candidates with an arrest or conviction on their record with more opportunities to be evaluated on their skills and experience when applying for positions with private employers. (MN Stat § 364.021)
It’s often that convicted felons have difficulties finding housing once released from prison, especially if the offense involved drugs, a sex crime, violence, or a crime against a child. In Minnesota, finding felon-friendly housing can be challenging, and there are guidelines for determining illegal and legal discrimination. There are no existing laws that stop landlords from denying felons housing, meaning a property owner can deny you housing options strictly based on criminal history. Similar to employment, Minnesota offers many programs to help guide convicted felons in reentering society.
Student Loans + Financial Aid
If you are a college student and discover you have been charged with a felony charge or Title IX case, the school you’re attending may decide to suspend or expel you. Regardless, it’s likely that you’ll be required to participate in a hearing before the school’s disciplinary board. Along with possible suspension or expulsion, individuals convicted of a felony involving the sale or possession of a controlled substance will no longer be eligible for student loans or financial aid to include loans, grants, and work assistance.
Expunging and Sealing a Federal Conviction
A felony conviction can be life-changing, and there are instances where you may obtain an expungement. Expungement is a term used to define the court procedure of “sealing” the criminal conviction and associated arrest records. Numerous records are utilized to build a court case, and all of this information is available to the public eye meaning it can further impact an individual’s chances of gaining employment, housing, and more, long after the case is over. Records that may be sealed or removed from the public eye include:
- Police reports
- Court records
- ID documents
On January 1st, 2015, Minnesota passed a new expungement law that allows all records to be sealed. This is beneficial for individuals facing charges as it allows offenders to create a new life not only individually but also with loved ones. By obtaining expungement, a felony conviction will no longer have the same negative impact that it once did. (MN Stat § 609A.01)
The Value of Good Representation
While obtaining an expungement is a possibility for some, it is not a guarantee to all. Therefore, the best time to fight the case and the collateral consequences are when the case is charged and not after a conviction occurs.
A skilled criminal defense lawyer can identify whether you have any grounds for dismissal of charges, navigate plea options, and represent you at trial. The best lawyer for your case is the lawyer who handles criminal cases exclusively and is a certified specialist in their field.
Contact a Dedicated Minneapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’re facing a federal or state felony charge in Minnesota, reliable legal counsel is vital. Lauren Campoli will be by your side every step of the way to help you seek the best possible outcome in your felony case through impeccable skill, a track record of success, and tact. Individuals facing felony charges need a reliable criminal defense lawyer they can trust. Complete our online questionnaire or call the Law Office of Lauren Campoli at 612-810-0060 today. We are eager to discuss your case and your goals.