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Originally Posted On: https://campolidefense.com/road-rage-can-result-in-forever-felonies/
Road rage incidents can turn a simple commute into a legal nightmare. In the state of Minnesota, aggressive driving behaviors that escalate into criminal offenses are taken seriously by law enforcement and the judicial system. For example, on October 27, 2023, a 40-year-old Lakeville man faced felony charges of Threats of Violence and Criminal Damage to Property for hitting another person’s vehicle with a hatchet during an alleged road rage incident.
In this blog, we will delve into the various road rage-related offenses, such as criminal damage to property, threats of violence, disorderly conduct, and careless driving, and examine the potential consequences of each.
Criminal Damage to Property
Criminal Damage to Property is defined by Minn. Stat. § 609.595 and has four different degrees.
Criminal Damage to Property First Degree:
Whoever intentionally causes damage to physical property of another without the latter’s consent may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both, if:
(1) the damage to the property caused a reasonably foreseeable risk of bodily harm; or
(2) the property damaged was a public safety motor vehicle, the defendant knew the vehicle was a public safety motor vehicle, and the damage to the vehicle caused a substantial interruption or impairment of public safety service or a reasonably foreseeable risk of bodily harm; or
(3) the property damaged belongs to a common carrier and the damage impairs the service to the public rendered by the carrier; or
(4) the damage reduces the value of the property by more than $1,000 measured by the cost of repair and replacement; or
(5) the damage reduces the value of the property by more than $500 measured by the cost of repair and replacement and the defendant has been convicted within the preceding three years of an offense under this subdivision or subdivision 2.
Criminal Damage to Property in the Second Degree:
Whoever intentionally causes damage described in subdivision 2, paragraph (a), because of the property owner’s or another’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability as defined in section 363A.03, age, or national origin is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year and a day or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.
Criminal Damage to Property in the Third Degree:
Except as otherwise provided in subdivision 1a, whoever intentionally causes damage to another person’s physical property without the other person’s consent may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both, if: (1) the damage reduces the value of the property by more than $500 but not more than $1,000 as measured by the cost of repair and replacement; or (2) the damage was to a public safety motor vehicle and the defendant knew the vehicle was a public safety motor vehicle.
Criminal Damage to Property in the Fourth:
Whoever intentionally causes damage described in subdivision 2 under any other circumstances is guilty of a misdemeanor.
In Minnesota, the act of intentionally damaging another person’s property as a result of road rage can lead to charges of criminal damage to property. This offense may occur when a driver vandalizes another vehicle, destroys their personal belongings, or damages public property in the midst of a road rage incident. Convictions for criminal damage to property may result in criminal penalties, including fines, probation, or even jail time, depending on the severity of the damage and the monetary value of the property affected.
In the incident of October 27, 2023, if the damage to the other vehicle is reported at $2,200 or more, that would be Criminal damage to property in the first degree. This is because the damage to the vehicle lowered the value by more than $1,000.00.
Threats of Violence
Minnesota Statute 609.713 describes Threats of Violence as:
Subdivision 1.Threaten violence; intent to terrorize:
Whoever threatens, directly or indirectly, to commit any crime of violence with purpose to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, vehicle or facility of public transportation or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in a reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.
Subdivision 2.Communicates to terrorize.
Whoever communicates to another with purpose to terrorize another or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror, that explosives or an explosive device or any incendiary device is present at a named place or location, whether or not the same is in fact present, may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than three years or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.
Verbal threats or acts of intimidation made during a road rage incident can lead to charges of threats of violence in Minnesota. Threatening to harm another person, either verbally or through menacing gestures, is a criminal offense. If convicted, individuals may face penalties that include fines, probation, and, in more severe cases, imprisonment. It is crucial to remember that threats of violence, even if not acted upon, are taken seriously by the legal system.
In the October 2023 incident, the driver was charged with felony threats of violence for threating the other driver with a hatchet. Not only did the Semi Truck driver wield the hatchet in a threatening manner towards the victim, but he also struck the other vehicle several times with it to intimidate the other driver.
Disorderly Conduct is defined by Minn. Stat. § 609.72, and is defined as:
Subdivision 1.Crime. Whoever does any of the following in a public or private place, including on a school bus, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to know that it will, or will tend to, alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace, is guilty of disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor:
(1) engages in brawling or fighting; or
(2) disturbs an assembly or meeting, not unlawful in its character; or
(3) engages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others.
A person does not violate this section if the person’s disorderly conduct was caused by an epileptic seizure.
Disorderly conduct charges may arise from aggressive and disruptive behavior during a road rage incident. In Minnesota, disorderly conduct encompasses a wide range of activities, such as shouting, gestures, and physical altercations that disturb public peace and safety. Road rage incidents that lead to disorderly conduct charges can result in legal consequences, including fines and possible jail time. If the behavior escalates to violence or causes serious disruption, the penalties may be more severe.
In the October 2023 incident, the truck driver got out of his vehicle and started hitting the other driver’s car. While doing this, he was yelling and threatening the other driver. This is offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others because he was doing this to get a reaction from the other driver. The truck driver admits to the fact he wanted the other driver to get out of his vehicle and to confront him.
In Minnesota careless driving is covered under Minn. Stat. § 169.13 Reckless or Careless Driving. It is defined as:
Reckless driving (a) A person who drives a motor vehicle or light rail transit vehicle while aware of and consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the driving may result in harm to another, or another’s property is guilty of reckless driving. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of it constitutes a significant deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.
(b) A person shall not race any vehicle upon any street or highway of this state. Any person who willfully compares or contests relative speeds by operating one or more vehicles is guilty of racing, which constitutes reckless driving, whether or not the speed contested or compared is in excess of the maximum speed prescribed by law.
(c) A person who violates paragraph (a) or (b) is guilty of a misdemeanor. A person who violates paragraph (a) or (b) and causes great bodily harm or death to another is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
(d) For purposes of this section, “great bodily harm” has the meaning given in section 609.02, subdivision 8.
Careless driving (a) Any person who operates or halts any vehicle upon any street or highway carelessly or heedlessly in disregard of the rights of others, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any property or any person, including the driver or passengers of the vehicle, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(b) Any person who operates or halts a light rail transit vehicle carelessly or heedlessly in disregard of the rights of others, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any property or any person, including the operator or passengers on the light rail transit vehicle, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Careless driving is another offense related to road rage in Minnesota. It involves driving without due care and attention, often due to aggressive behaviors, such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, or engaging in aggressive maneuvers. Careless driving can result in accidents, injuries, or fatalities, which can lead to criminal charges and significant penalties, including fines and possible driver’s license suspension.
Consequences of Road Rage Offenses
The consequences of road rage-related offenses in Minnesota can be substantial. Depending on the specific offense and its severity, individuals may face various penalties, including fines, probation, community service, or even incarceration. Additionally, a criminal record can have long-term consequences, affecting employment opportunities and personal relationships.
Avoiding Road Rage Incidents
Preventing road rage incidents is the best way to avoid legal trouble. Practicing patience, courtesy, and restraint while driving can help reduce the likelihood of confrontations on the road. If you encounter an aggressive driver, it is best to disengage, not engage in retaliation, and report the incident to law enforcement if necessary.
Road rage incidents in Minnesota can result in criminal charges, including criminal damage to property, threats of violence, disorderly conduct, and careless driving. Understanding the potential consequences of these offenses is crucial to making informed decisions while on the road. By promoting safe and courteous driving behaviors, we can all contribute to safer roadways and a reduction in road rage-related incidents and their legal repercussions. Contact Attorney Lauren Campoli to represent you in your criminal defense case.
Office of the revisor of statutes. 2022 MN Statutes. (n.d.). https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/