Mandatory Sentences

There are two situations when the typical presumptive sentence (based on severity level and criminal history) may be overridden:

  • Mandatory minimums: These are sentences established in statute by the Legislature. These can affect the disposition and/or the duration.
  • Presumptive sentences for certain subsequent offenses: These are sentences found in the Guidelines or in statute. They will affect the disposition but not the duration.

When a mandatory minimum exceeds the grid duration, the mandatory minimum sentence will be the presumptive duration. The disposition is always commitment. For presumptive sentences per the Guidelines, the duration is found in the appropriate cell of the applicable grid but the disposition is commitment. 

Mandatory life imprisonment sentences for first-degree murder and for sex offenses subject to Minn. Stat. § 609.3455 subd. 2 are not governed by the Guidelines.

Mandatory and Presumptive Sentences Reference Table        Dangerous Weapon Offense Reference Table


Subsequent Offenses

Several offenses carry a mandatory minimum sentence if the conviction is considered a subsequent (or repeat) offense. Often times, the Guidelines have taken these mandatory minimums into account, and the Grid time exceeds the duration of the mandatory minimum sentence.  However, several of the following offenses have mandatory sentences that may exceed the Grid time.  The presumptive sentence is always the longer of the two durations. The disposition for each of the following subsequent offenses is commitment, regardless of the offender's criminal history score.

First-Degree Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling with a Prior Felony Burglary

First-degree burglary of an occupied dwelling under Minn. Stat. § 609.582 subd. 1(a) is ranked at Severity Level 6. At this severity level, the Grid indicates a presumptive stayed sentence until a criminal history score of 3. However, if the current offense is a first-degree burglary of an occupied dwelling  and there was a prior conviction for a felony-level burglary before the current offense occurred, the presumptive sentence is commitment for the Grid time, even if the criminal history score is 0, 1, or 2. Minn. Sentencing Guidelines § 2.C.3.b.

Subsequent Third-Degree Controlled Substance Offenses

Third-degree drug offenses are ranked at a Severity Level 6. At Severity Level 6, the Grid indicates a presumptive stayed sentence until a criminal history score of 3. 

Mandatory Minimum: If the current offense is a third-degree drug offense and is charged under Minn. Stat. § 152.023 subd. 3(b) as a "subsequent controlled substance conviction" as defined in Minn. Stat. § 152.01 subd. 16a, the presumptive disposition is commitment, and the presumptive duration is the mandatory minimum of 24 months or the duration indicated on the Grid, whichever is longer. Minn. Sentencing Guidelines § 2.C.3.c. If an offender has a criminal history score of 0, the mandatory minimum duration will exceed the Grid time as shown below. 

Presumptive Commitment:  If the current offense is a third-degree offense and is a “subsequent controlled substance conviction” but is not charged as such, the presumptive disposition will still be commitment, but the duration will be that shown on the Grid.


Subsequent Predatory Offender Failure to Register Offense

Failure to register as a predatory offender under Minn. Stat. § 243.166 subd. 5(a) is a Severity Level H offense on the Sex Offender Grid.  The disposition at every criminal history score is commitment.  However,  Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 5(c) imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of at least two years if the person has previously been convicted or adjudicated delinquent of a failure to register offense. The mandatory minimum exceeds the Grid time as Criminal History Scores 0-3.


Felony DWI with Prior Felony DWI or Prior Felony CVO 

The presumptive sentence for a felony DWI offense may be determined by both a statutory mandatory minimum and a presumptive commitment disposition governed by Sentencing Guidelines Commission policy.

  • Mandatory Minimum: By definition, felony DWI is a repeat offense. A DWI is enhanced to a felony under Minn. Stat. § 169A.24 if the person commits the violation within ten years of three or more “qualified prior driving impaired incidents” or has previously been convicted of a felony DWI or certain criminal vehicular homicide or injury offenses. Minn. Stat. § 169A.276 imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of commitment for at least three years. The statute does, however, permit the court to stay execution of the sentence. A stay of imposition or adjudication is not permitted. The Grid takes the mandatory sentence into account. DWI is ranked at Severity Level 7, and the recommended duration at Criminal History Score 0 is 36 months. The Grid indicates a presumptive stayed sentence until a criminal history score of 3. As the next paragraph explains, this stayed portion of the Grid will typically only apply to first-time felony DWI offenses.
  • Presumptive Commitment: The Guidelines further direct that if the current conviction is for a felony DWI and if, prior to the commission of the current offense, the offender had a previous conviction for a felony DWI or a criminal vehicular operation as defined in Minn. Stat. § 169A.24. subd. 1(3), the presumptive disposition is commitment. The duration is that indicated on the Grid. Thus, under Guidelines policy, the type of prior offense makes a difference in determining the presumptive disposition. While the mandatory minimum sentence duration applies to all felony DWI offenses, for offenders who would ordinarily fall into the shaded portion of the Grid at a Criminal History Score of 0, 1, or 2, the presumptive disposition of commitment is applies if the offender has a  prior felony DWI or CVO conviction. Minn. Sentencing Guidelines § 2.C.3.d.

Sex Offenses

Except when a life sentence applies, if the current conviction offense is criminal sexual conduct in the first- through fourth-degree or criminal sexual predatory conduct under Minn. Stat. § 609.3453 within 15 years of a previous sex offense conviction, under Minn. Stat. § 609.3455 subd. 10, the presumptive disposition is commitment. The presumptive duration is at least 36 months, or the fixed duration indicated in the appropriate cell on the Grid, whichever is longer. 

Weapon Offenses

In order for an offense to have the mandatory minimum per Minn. Stat. § 609.11 applied it must be either

  • An offense which by statute involves a weapon (example: 2nd Degree Assault and Felon in Possession of a Firearm); or
  • Listed in 609.11 subd. 9 as an applicable offense and Blakely must have been met

See our Weapon Offense Flow Chart to learn more about determining is a weapon should be cited on an EWS worksheet.

The durations of weapon offense mandatory minimums can be found in the Dangerous Weapon Offense Reference Table above.

Assault 1--Peace Officer

Assault against a Peace Officer under Minn. Stat. § 609.221 subd. 2 carries a 10-year mandatory minimum. All convictions under this statute have a presumptive sentence of 120 months or the grid time, whichever is greater. Because this is a Severity Level 9 offense, the Grid exceeds the mandatory minimum at a criminal history of 2. Note that the 120-month mandatory minimum also applies to attempts.

Severity Level 9

Escape/Assault while Confined

If an offender is confined serving an executed prison sentence at the time of an assault or escape, the presumptive disposition is always commitment. Assault against personnel at a secure treatment facility while committed for treatment will also always have a presumptive disposition of commitment.

The duration of the sentence will be found in the appropriate cell of the applicable grid. These offenses qualify for presumptive consecutive sentencing.