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Sentencing Guidelines

Minnesota Courts rely on the standards espoused in the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines when determining what type of punishment is appropriate for the convicted felon. The Guidelines were created to ensure fair treatment of offenders, regardless of race, gender, or the exercise of constitutional rights.  The following resources are helpful in understanding the sentencing guidelines.


  • After a plea, or a guilty verdict, the Court shall order a pre-sentence investigation and schedule a sentencing hearing. If the Court is considering a departure from the Sentencing guidelines, the Court shall advise the parties. 

  • At the Sentencing hearing the defendant must be present. During the hearing, Victim Impact Statements may be read, along with requests for restitution. 

  • When reading the sentence the Court shall state the precise terms of the sentence, and will address conditions of the sentence, including release, custody credit and conditions of probation.
  • A Defendant’s sentence is determined in part by the Guidelines. These Guidelines are established by a committee to promote rational and consistent sentencing.  

  • The Guidelines take into consideration the severity of the crime and the criminal history of the defendant. The sentencing judge has the choice to not follow the Guidelines, however it is expected that the judge typically adhere to the formula of the Guidelines. Some crimes have mandatory minimum sentences that cannot be deviated from. 

  • To determine the presumptive sentence, a grid is provided that combines the offense severity level (low to high) and criminal history index of the offender’s prior record.