Tag Archives: burglary

Burglary Penalties in Minnesota

BurglaryMany people believe the crime of burglary is defined as breaking into a residence a stealing someone else’s property, but that’s not necessarily the case. In it’s least criminal degree (4th), Minnesota defines the act of burglary as:

Entering a building without consent with intent to commit a misdemeanor other than stealing, or entering a building without consent and committing a misdemeanor other than to stealing while in the building, either directly or as an accomplice.

In layman’s terms, you can be charged with Burglary in the Fourth Degree even if you don’t steal anything. If you break into a residence and intentionally damage property, you can be charged with Burglary.

1st and 2nd Degree

As noted above, Burglary in the Fourth Degree is the least criminal burglary charge, so it stands to reason there are four degrees of burglary. They are Burglary in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Degrees. All four charges are detailed below.

Burglary in the First Degree is the most severe of the burglary classifications. In order for the crime to be considered a First Degree offense, the following factors must be present.

  • With intent to commit a crime, a burglar breaks into a building or residence that is occupied by at least one person at the time of the break-in.
  • The burglar possesses a dangerous weapon or any instrument that the victim believes is a dangerous weapon; or
  • The burglar assaults the victim inside the home or on the building’s property.

A person guilty of Burglary in the First Degree in Minnesota can be sentenced to 20 years in prison and fines up to $35,000.

Burglary in the Second Degree is the “Ocean’s Eleven” of burglaries. In essence, Burglary in the Second Degree occurs when a burglar uses tools to gain access to a bank, pharmacy, or other area of a business where securities or valuable papers are kept. Maximum penalties for this offense are 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $20,000.

3rd and 4th Degree

Burglary in the Third Degree is your basic small scale burglary. This offense occurs when a person enters a building without consent and:

  • Steals, commits a felony or gross misdemeanor; or
  • Intends to steal, commit a felony or gross misdemeanor; or
  • Is an accomplice to a party who steals or commits a felony or gross misdemeanor.

A person convicted of Burglary in the Third Degree in Minnesota can be sentenced to five years in prison and fined up to $10,000.

As mentioned above, Burglary in the Fourth Degree occurs when a person enters a building without consent with the intention of committing a misdemeanor. A person can be sentenced to one year in prison and fines up to $3,000 if they are convicted of Burglary in the Fourth degree.

Prisoners Thwart Prisoner’s Dilemma

CC image Wikipedia.orgA study by two economists at the University of Hamburg revealed that when presented with the “prisoner’s dilemma”, inmates actually achieved a more favorable outcome than college students.

The prisoner’s dilemma goes as follows: Two criminals are arrested on suspicion of burglary. The cops believe the prisoners worked together during the heist, but they don’t have enough evidence to convict them on 1st degree burglary charges unless the criminals testify against one another. The suspects are brought into separate rooms for questioning with no means of communication.

They are then told that if they testify and their accomplice remains silent, they will walk free and their partner will get three years in jail. On the other hand, if they remain silent and their partner agrees to testify, they will get three years in prison and their accomplice will go free. If both agree to testify, they will each receive two years in prison. If neither agrees to testify, the cops will only be able to book them on trespassing charges, and they’ll each receive one year in prison.

According to game theory, also known as strategic decision-making, choosing to testify is always the more popular answer. Let’s assume, for example, you knew what your accomplice was going to do. In each case, for the lesser sentence, you would choose to testify. If you knew your accomplice was staying silent, you could walk free if you testified. If you knew your accomplice was talking, your testimony would reduce your sentence from three years to two. In this rational sense, it leads one to believe that testifying will be your best option, when in fact, mutual cooperation leads to the greatest result for both parties.

Testing the Theory on Prisoners

Although termed the prisoners dilemma, the study had never been conducted on a prison population. Menusch Khadjavi and Andreas Lange decided to put the theory to test, and they used a group of college students as a control group.

Because humans are not purely rational individuals, researchers did not expect all 100% of either group to betray their partner. They did, however, believe that the inmate population might be more jaded and distrustful, meaning they may be more likely to betray their partner. The results showed quite the opposite:

  • When students were presented with the dilemma, only 37% opted not to betray their partner.
  • When prisoners were presented with the dilemma, 56% of inmates decided not to betray their partner.
  • When examined in a pair setting, only 13% of students managed to get the best mutual outcome for both players. Prisoners obtained the best mutual outcome for both players 30% of the time.

Although they weren’t actually presented with years in prison (money for the students and coffee and cigarettes for the prisoners were used), the study highlights what some behavioral economists have been arguing for years; that convicts aren’t as distrusting as one might naturally believe.

Related sources: Science Direct, Business Insider

St. Paul Man Charged After Impersonating Police Officer

costyume48 year-old Morgan Wilson of St. Paul has been charged with one count of first degree burglary and two counts of false imprisonment after impersonating a police officer three different times.

Incident Reports:

1. Wilson knocked on the door of the St. Paul home of a woman and her teenage children. He claimed to be a police officer and showed the woman a badge and a Taser in his waistband. Wilson then aged if the 17-year-old son was involved in a robbery, handcuffed him, and stole cash from his wallet. He then went upstairs, handcuffed a girl, and stole the family’s hunting rifles.

2. Wilson stopped two men on the street and demanded to see their identification. The men questioned him and asked to see his badge, at which point his again displayed his Taser. The men remained unconvinced and Wilson grew angry and clenched his hands around one man’s neck.

3. Wilson knocked at the door of another St. Paul home, claiming to be from the SPPD and demanding to be let inside. The residents questioned his badge and Wilson again became agitated.

The real police were alerted and a K9 officer tracked down and arrested Morgan Wilson. According to a St. Paul Police spokesperson, if a person is wondering about the validity of an officer or a badge number, “If in doubt, call,” he said, adding that citizens can call police to verify identification or request a squad to respond to questionable situations.”

Prosecution is unlikely to be forgiving in cases such as this. Impersonating a police officer is seen to be an especially egregious act. In the case of Morgan Wilson, where this power was abused to burgal and imprison his victims, the case outcome is even less likely to be favorable. However, a person need not go to the same lengths to be charged with burglary and false imprisonment. These are very serious charges. If you are arrested or under investigation for any violent crime, contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.

Fairy Tale Law: Little Red Riding Hood

The story of Little Red Riding Hood has many versions, ranging from the tame to the most violent. Today, we’re going to tell our own version of the classic tale and explore the relationship to Minnesota criminal conduct laws.

One day, a beautiful woman named Red Riding Hood set off through the forest to visit her ailing grandmother. As she is walking, Little Red is spotted by a big, bad, lecherous wolf.

When the wolf sees Little Red, his eyes light up and he makes up his mind to force himself on her. However, the woods are full of forest animals and the wolf doesn’t want any witnesses. So, he approaches Red and asks her where she is going. Naively, Red told the wolf that she was headed to her grandmother’s house and then gave him directions.

As a distraction, the wolf suggested to Red that she pick some wildflowers for her grandmother. She agreed and, having successfully stalled Red, the wolf ran ahead to the grandmother’s house.

When he got there, the wolf knocked down the door, hit the old woman over the head with a pipe, then locked her in the attic. He then dressed himself as the grandmother and crawled into bed to wait.

When Red got to the house, she went inside and noticed that something wasn’t right about her grandmother. “Oh Granny,” she said, “What long fur you have!” The wolf replied, “All the better to keep you warm, my dear.”  Then Red said “Oh Granny, what big hands you have!” and the wolf, sensing his opportunity and Red’s vulnerability, screamed “ALL THE BETTER TO TOUCH YOU WITH!”

The wolf jumped out of bed, tackled Red, and forced her to have sex with him. At this point, the commotion roused the unconscious grandmother, who  calls the police from the closet.

When the police arrived, they hauled the wolf away and charged him with the following crimes:

Assault in the First Degree: When the wolf hit Granny with the pipe, he inflicted great bodily harm. Assault in the first degree is a felony in Minnesota. If convicted, the wolf could receive a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and/or $20,000 in fines.

Burglary in the First Degree: Because the wolf broke into Granny’s house with the intention of committing a crime, he was charged with burglary in the first degree. This is a felony charge and the wolf can face up to 20 years in prison and/or $35,000 in fines.

Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree: The wolf used considerable force and threat of harm while raping Red, so he may be charged with felony aggravated sexual assault. This is a very serious charge in Minnesota and if convicted, the wolf could be sentenced up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $40,000.

Burglary, assault, and sexual assault are all extremely serious crimes in Minnesota that carry extremely serious consequences. For the big bad wolf, or anyone charged with one of these crimes, it is absolutely imperative that they retain an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.

Stay tuned as we retell more classic fairy tales in our Fairy Tale Law blog series.


Shlomi Nissim



Fairy Tale Law: Goldilocks and the Three Bears

On Monday, we explored the story of the Three Little Pigs and the criminal charges which could be brought against the violent, villanous Big Bad Wolf. This week we are recounting the tale of Goldilocks, a mischievous little girl who gets herself into trouble with a family of bears. Unlike the Big Bad Wolf, Goldilocks is neither violence nor particularly malevolent. However, her mischief could still leave her facing some hefty charges and in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Our story begins with a cottage deep in the Fairy Tale woods. This little house is inhabited by a family of three gentle bears: Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear. They keep a tidy, orderly house and each bear has its own porridge bowl, chair, and bed–each sized appropriately. One day, when the Three Bears were away from the house, a mischievous little girl named Goldilocks wandered off into the woods. There, she came upon the little house and peeked in the window. After seeing that the house was empty, she let herself inside.

First, Goldilocks went into the kitchen, where three bowls of fresh porridge were sitting out on the table. Feeling a little hungry, Goldilocks tried the porridge from the biggest bowl, but it was far too hot. She then sampled the porridge from the second bowl, but it was far too cold. Deciding to give it one last try, Goldilocks tried the porridge from the smallest bowl and decided it was just right. Goldilocks wanted to sit down to finish the porridge, so she  sat down in the smallest chair, the chair belonging to Baby Bear. However, Goldilocks was a bit on the porky side and broke the chair into pieces.

All this activity made the impish little blonde very tired, so she decided to take a nap in one of the beds. After trying out all three beds, Goldilocks decided that Baby Bear’s bed was the perfect size, so she lay down and quickly fell fast asleep.

Soon after, the Bears returned home from their outing and were very hungry. Papa Bear and Mama Bear saw their bowls on the table and exclaimed, “Someone has been eating my porridge!” When poor baby bear saw his bowl, he cried out “Someone has eaten all of my porridge and broken my chair!” Realizing that they had been victims of an intruder, the Three Bear ventured upstairs. Papa and Mama Bear saw that their beds had been mussed and exclaimed “Someone has been sleeping in our beds!” Then Baby Bear looked over to his bed and, seeing Goldilocks, announced “There she is!”

Frightened, Goldilocks jumped up and ran from the house. The Three Bears, being reasonable mammals, called the Fairy Tale Police. Goldilocks was soon arrested.

Goldilocks entered the dwelling without consent with the intent of committing a crime. While she was in the house, the Three Bears returned home. Because of these conditions, Goldilocks was charged with Burglary in the First Degree. This is a felony charge and Goldilocks could be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 20 years or a fine of up to $35,000.

Goldilocks broke Baby Bear’s chair, which was handcrafted by elves and very valuable. It would cost the Bears over $500 to replace the chair, so Goldilocks was charged with Criminal Damage to Property in the First Degree. For this, Goldilocks could receive a sentence of up to 5 years or a five of up to $10,000.

Goldilocks ate the Bears’ porridge. Although the porridge is not especially valuable, this is still considered a crime. Goldilocks was charged with Misdemeanor Theft  which carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and fines up to $1,000.

The charges faced by Goldilocks were very serious, so she decided to use her right to an attorney and contacted MN criminal defense attorney Avery Appelman.

The Appelman Law Firm is well versed in the laws of Minnesota property crimes, as well as the juvenile justice system. If you have been charged with any property crimes in Minnesota, contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.  Stay tuned as we continue our Fairy Tale Law blog series.