Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Felony Sentencing

Two common misunderstandings recur in this area. 1. Question: When the district court commits a defendant to the commissioner of corrections (prison), does the court have authority to include a “no-contact” order as part of the sentence, (for example: at the request of a terrified victim of a serious sexual or violent offense)? AnswerNo – Such an order would be contrary to law. “A district court may not impose a no-contact order [or any other special condition] as part of an executed sentence unless the condition is expressly authorized by statute” Stevens v. State, A09-0756 (Goodhue County District Court, 02/09/10); State v. Pugh, 753 N.W.2d 308, 311 (Minn. App. 2008) (holding that no-contact order imposed in first-degree criminal sexual conduct case was not statutorily authorized).

2. Question: Can the court sentence a defendant to additional jail time for a probation violation, when he has already served the statutory maximum 12 months in jail, as a condition of his probation? Answer: Yes – Minn.Stat. §609.135, subd. 4 states “a district court may, as a condition of probation, require the defendant to serve up to one year incarceration in a county jail … .” However, that statute only limits the amount of local jail time the court can impose at one time (12 months); it does not limit the cumulative amount of local jail time that can be imposed as a consequence for defendant’s probation violation. (even if the total exceeds one year). State v. Johnson, 743 N.W.2d 622 (Minn. App. 2008).

Hon Alan Pendleton

10th Judicial District


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