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Can a Minor be Charged with a Felony?

Felonies are the most serious classification for criminal charges, and they pose substantial consequences for those who are convicted – including a minimum one year prison sentence and a loss of civil rights. While felony prosecution is generally the same for all adults, it can differ greatly when those serious charges are brought against a minor.

In the state of Minnesota, minors under the age of 18 can be charged with felonies, as delinquency matters handled by state Juvenile Courts range from petty misdemeanors to the most serious felony offenses. Some of the most common felonies committed by minors include:

  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Sale or distribution of drugs
  • Weapons offenses
  • Sex crimes
  • Grand theft

When a minor is charged with a felony level crime, they must be fingerprinted before their first court appearance and apply for a court-appointed attorney if they qualify and wish to do so. Because the stakes are high in felony juvenile cases, however, working with a private defense attorney with the experience, time, and resources public defenders so often lack can prove invaluable.

Depending on the nature of the crime, the age of the child, and their criminal history, penalties for a felony conviction can vary. In many felony cases, placement in a juvenile detention facility is a common punishment, as well as house arrest and electronic monitoring, community serving, counseling, and probation. Because Minnesota believes juveniles have greater chances of rehabilitation, they often use diversion programs and more lenient sentences as compared to cases involving similar crimes committed by adults.

In some cases – particularly those involving serious and violent felony allegations – minors can be charged and tried as adults. Prosecutors may begin the adult certification process if the minor is between 14 to 17 years old. Once certified, their case will be transferred to an adult criminal court, where they can be penalized and sentenced to state prison.

Criminal charges of any type are never something to take lightly, but felony charges can expose minors to serious and long-term consequences. If your child has been charged with a felony in Minneapolis or any surrounding community, our legal team at Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. can leverage our collective experience in juvenile crime and felony cases to provide the representation you and your family need. Contact us 24/7 for a free consultation.


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