First-degree murder charges are the most serious of all murder charges in Minnesota. Various killings are classified as first-degree murder, but they’re all done with a common factor – aggression.

First-degree murder charges can be based on the identity and relationship of the victim and the defendant. The most common first-degree murder charges are those for killing a spouse after years of domestic abuse, a police officer, a judge, a child, or a witness to prevent them from testifying in another case.

Minnesota Murder Attorney

If you are facing charges for murder, it is critical that you have strong representation from a Minnesota murder defense attorney. Depending on the circumstances of your case, several defenses may be available. James Blumberg Law has provided aggressive defense representation to clients throughout the state.

Call (952) 431-7758 to receive an initial consultation for free. Mr. Blumberg accepts murder cases in Rice County, Steele CountyScott CountySibley County, Dodge County, Olmsted County, and Carver County.

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Information Center

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First-Degree Murder in Minnesota

For a crime to be classified as first-degree murder in Minnesota, it must have these three elements:

  • Malice Aforethought. First-degree murder is always carried out with malicious intent. This legal phrase indicates that the crime was committed with a blatant disregard for human life and a clear intention to kill or engage in other evil deeds, like torturing.
  • All murders in the first degree are premeditated. This implies that despite any mental illnesses the murderer may have, the crime was intentional and planned. In these situations, the defendant carefully planned the murder.
  • The defendant had full knowledge of their intent to commit a crime, whether murder or another serious felony like aggravated robbery or kidnapping.

In Minnesota, a prosecutor alone can’t charge a person with first-degree murder. Instead, it’s chargeable only by a grand jury. A county attorney’s office must assemble a grand jury in the county where the crime was committed and present the evidence to the grand jury. After the evidence is presented, the grand jury deliberates and returns with a bill of indictment or opts to return with a “no bill.” If the grand jury returns a bill of indictment, the defendant is charged with first-degree murder.

If convicted of first-degree murder by a judge or jury in Minnesota, the defendant faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release. To convict a defendant of first-degree murder, the state must provide the defendant demonstrated intent to kill beyond a reasonable doubt.

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What Is Second-Degree Murder?

Although this second level of murder may involve the intent to kill, Minnesota does not consider it as heinous as first-degree murder. When a defendant unexpectedly and intentionally ends another person’s life, prosecutors frequently charge them with second-degree murder. The critical difference is that second-degree murder is not premeditated.

The following elements must be present for a crime to be classified as murder in the second degree:

  • Lacks planning and premeditation. A second-degree murder lacks both. Instead, homicides in this category are typically the result of irrational behavior fueled by rage, with no prior intention to kill the victim.
  • Intent to harm. All second-degree murders are committed with the intention of harming someone, including killing, even though they are not premeditated crimes.

It might also happen if the defendant kills someone while trying to seriously hurt them, particularly if an active order of protection prohibits contact. A second-degree murder conviction in Minnesota carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.

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What Is Third-Degree Murder?

The least serious level of murder is third-degree murder. This type of murder classification only exists in three states. Along with Minnesota, Florida and Pennsylvania have a third-degree murder charge. This type of murder is described as an unintentional killing carried out with the intent to harm the victim rather than kill them.

Minnesota law mandates the following elements for a crime to be classified as third-degree murder:

  • Intention to harm—There must be some intention to harm the victim to qualify as third-degree murder. There isn’t any murderous intent, however. First- or second-degree murder is defined as having the intent to cause death.
  • No premeditation—A murder committed in the third degree cannot have any sort of premeditation or planning. They frequently result from reckless behavior or the commission of other lesser crimes.

Some examples of third-degree murder include failure to use caution when performing a legal action that puts people at risk or drug-induced homicides. A third-degree murder conviction in Minnesota carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.

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What Are Possible Defenses To A Murder Charge?

Mistaken Identity

If the defendant didn’t commit the crime, they might use the defense of mistaken identity to have the murder charges dropped. A criminal defense lawyer in Minnesota can gather proof in such a situation, such as an alibi and forensic evidence like security footage, to persuade the judge to drop the charges.


When the defendant acted in self-defense or to protect others, this defense is applicable. An attorney may contend that the defendant used reasonable force in response to a credible threat of bodily harm or death. To establish the defense of “self-defense or defense of others,” three elements are needed

  • The defendant used no more force than was required to protect themselves or another person from the danger.
  • The defendant had a reasonable belief that they were going to die or suffer serious injuries.
  • The defendant believed that immediate force was required to stop the danger.


A person who has a mental illness might not be able to comprehend the consequences of their actions.

Accidental Killing

This defense applies if a person kills another person while engaging in lawful activities. For this defense to be effective, the defendant must demonstrate that they acted without criminal negligence or carelessness.

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Additional Resources

Minnesota Legislature Office of the Revisor of Statutes – The Minnesota Legislature website provides current Minnesota state law on Murder.

Minnesota Statutes Section 609-624. Justia’s website provides state laws on crimes and criminal codes.

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Apple Valley Murder Lawyer | Dakota County, MN

If you are facing charges for murder, we suggest that you contact our experienced and aggressive homicide defense attorneys in Minnesota. Murder is one of the most severe crimes that will most likely lead to severe punishment if you are convicted. To preserve your freedom, contact James Blumberg Law today.

James Blumberg Law will devise a legal strategy to obtain the best possible outcome for your case. Our criminal defense law firm serves clients throughout the state of Minnesota in cities such as Apple Valley, Eagan, Lakeville, Burnsville, Rosemount, Farmington, Inver Grove Heights and West St. Paul. Call (952) 431-7758 to arrange a free, initial consultation.

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