In Minnesota, felony murder is defined as subsections in both first (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 609.185) and second degree murder statues (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 609.19).

In Minnesota, prosecutors can charge and convict any person of murder under the second degree murder statute without having to prove that they intended to cause another person’s death (first degree murder requires intent, except where the charge is criminal sexual conduct and no intent is required). Under the second degree murder statute, prosecutors must only prove that a person or their accomplice intended to commit or attempted to commit another specified felony and that a death occurred.

There is no possibility in Minnesota for a person charged with felony murder to raise an affirmative defense–i.e. that he or she acted under duress, that they weren’t armed and had no reason to believe another participant was armed or intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death.

A conviction for felony murder in Minnesota carries a maximum sentence of 40 years for second degree murder, and life or life without parole for First Degree.

Analysis: Race

Race and Conviction Rate

In Minnesota, you are 14.5965 times more likely to be incarcerated for felony murder if you are Black than if you are white.

Black 14.5965x

Disproportionate Representation

While Black individuals account for only 7% of Minnesota’s population


they make up 36% of all incarcerated people


and 51% of those incarcerated for felony murder.


In terms of gender, women make up 6.95% of felony murder convictions.

Native Americans make up between 1.1 and 1.4% of the state population in Minnesota. However, they account for 7.62% of felony murder convictions. This wide gap is often overlooked because the total population (in raw numbers) of Native American people in Minnesota is small. However, that doesn't mean that the impact of disparity isn't large.

Analysis: Harsh Sentences

In total, there are 446 persons incarcerated for felony murder
in Minnesota (comprising 28.81% of all murder convictions). 
Of these individuals, 175 are sentenced to life in prison.

The remaining 271 persons are sentenced to a cumulative

5,104 years in prison

The median quantified sentence for felony murder is 16 years in prison.

Analysis: Youthful Impact

Young people in Minnesota are disproportionately impacted by felony murder.

  • 32

    Median age at offense
for all crimes

  • 26

    Median age at offense for felony murder

  • 30

    Persons incarcerated for felony murder in Minnesota that were younger than 18* at time of their offense.

    *Of these young persons, 60% of them are Black.

Data Request Process

Data Request Process Grade 4.6 / 5 (A)
Factors Supporting Grade
Request Responsiveness
Financial Accessibility
No Residency Required
Appeal Responsiveness

*These factors track the process--i.e. the effort and obstacles--for obtaining data from individual states under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and appeals process. These factors do not measure the quality of the data; only the process of attempting to obtain the data.

How We Collected Our Data

We created our dataset by examining Minnesota Department of Corrections (MDOC) data for people whose conviction statute was listed as 609.185(2), 609.185(3), 609.185(5), 609.185(6), 609.185(a)(2), 609.185(a)(3), 609.185(a)(2), or 609.19.2(1). The statutes beginning with “609.185” refer to first degree felony murder and those beginning with “609.19” refer to second degree murder. We obtained this data through a public records request through the Minnesota Data Practices Act, which also established the Task Force on Aiding and Abetting Felony Murder. This analysis encompasses those convicted of felony murder as of March 2023.

Access the Data

Learn more about how you can contribute to transparency when it comes to felony murder.

This analysis encompasses those convicted of felony murder as of March 2023.