Law enforcement commonly employs a tactic of “charge stacking,” in order to ensure some (or greater) penalties are ultimately placed on an offender.
Sometimes prosecutors’ strategy is to at least secure a plea deal, and others’ intent is to garner the maximum sentence the law will allow.
Today, we want to look at one crime often used in charge-stacking for indictments ranging from family violence to first-degree murder: kidnapping. Here in Minnesota, it is a charge we often see accompanying others for one of those reasons.
Hennepin County Stacks Charges Against Murder Suspect
An ongoing investigation as an example of charge stacking? After a murder suspect turned herself in, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has charged a suspect with murder, and including a kidnapping charge as well.
The crime allegedly involved a gun and a burner phone, and most recently a second person has been arrested in connection to the crime, as well.
These could result in additional Minnesota criminal charges such as:
- A weapons charge or elevation of a current charge to an “aggravated” crime
- Fraud charges for involving a burner phone
- Premeditation and conspiracy charges may be brought for involving a second person
Should these additional charges be filed, the sum of her complete indictment may be considered “stacked charges.”
History Says Stacking MN Criminal Charges…Well, It Works
Why is charge-stacking such a common practice? Like anything — it works. Case results show that stacking charges against an offender is an effective legal strategy for making sure an offender receives some kind of punishment.
In this case, it’s easier to prove lesser charges like kidnapping, using a weapon, and purchasing and/or using a burner phone to plan a murder than proving “beyond a reasonable doubt” that ultimately a suspect intended to kill someone.
Specifically, all that has to be proven in a Minnesota kidnapping case? That a human being was confined or moved without proper consent. There are two ways the Hennepin County case may go with this, but in either direction, they can ensure heftier penalties. Let’s take a look…
What Stacking Kidnapping Charge Can Add to MN Penalties
If the offender in the Hennepin County case has been found guilty of kidnapping as charged, according to law, they may face between 20 and 40 years in prison, and be fined up to $50,000.
What we do know is the alleged victim is no longer living. However, they must prove the suspect guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If prosecutors decide they don’t have enough evidence to outright prove their case, they may offer the suspect(s) a plea bargain.
Minnesota law says that when a kidnapping victim doesn’t wind up released and safe without suffering great bodily harm, the offender will face imprisonment of up to 40 years and the maximum fine (listed above).
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, this negotiation may be satisfactory enough for both parties to agree.
On the other hand, if prosecutors feel they have enough evidence or (after consulting with experienced Minnesota criminal counsel) the accused feels this isn’t a reasonable deal, either party may request a trial.
In Minnesota, a first-degree (premeditated) murder conviction is worth 25 more years and an additional fine of $40,000. If the case goes to trial, and the defendant is found guilty of murder and kidnapping, the sentence on the table could amount to 65 years behind bars and nearly $100,000 in fines.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).