Conviction for a drug crime can result in extreme consequences. Often, a lot of students and young professionals with a bright future ahead of them get convicted for a felony drug charge. The felony can not only result in imprisonment, but become a lifelong stain in your record that greatly impacts your present and future.
Potential penalties for felony drug charges can be severe. It is, therefore, crucial to fight against any type of felony drug charge of which you have been accused.
Minnesota recently modified its drug laws to introduce a separate sentencing framework for drug-related crimes, rather than going by the standard felony sentencing guidelines.
Working with an experienced Minnesota drug crime attorney can be extremely beneficial as we are aware of the legal amendments as well as the tactics applicable to your unique case. Accordingly, we can prepare a watertight plan of action to defend you.
Felony Drug Charge in Minnesota
Felony drug charges in Minnesota can include possession of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, crack, and other narcotics, including prescription drugs. Simple possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is considered an infraction. But, the possession of over one pound of marijuana or any amount of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) concentrate or hashish is considered a felony.
Most often, when an individual is found with an illegal drug on their person, they are arrested and charged with a felony. However, not everyone caught possessing narcotics gets criminally convicted of a felony drug charge. Each case is different and the penalty and outcomes are determined based on the various circumstantial factors involved.
Major drug crimes usually involve either the possession or the sale of drugs, including possession with intent to sell. Under Minnesota’s controlled substance laws, penalties for drug crimes depend on whether the offense falls under the first, second, third, fourth or fifth degree.
First-degree drug crimes are the most serious, and hence, attract the most severe penalties. However, even a fifth degree offense is a felony nonetheless and comes with certain consequences. It is important to avoid a conviction whenever possible.
Mentioned below are some of the crimes that fall under each degree category, from the least severe to the most, and the associated penalties:
This includes the possession of any amount of Schedule I through IV drugs, except 42.5 grams or less of marijuana. It also includes the sale of or intent to sell marijuana or other Schedule IV drug, except the transfer of small amounts of marijuana without payment.
Penalties: Fifth degree drug crimes can result in up to five years’ imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.
These offenses include the possession of 10 or more doses of a hallucinogen, as well as possession with intent to sell a Schedule I, II or III controlled substance. It also includes the sale of Schedule I, II or III substances, as well as sale of Schedule IV drugs to minors.
Penalties: Fourth degree drug crimes can result in up to 15 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $100,000.
These drug offenses can include the possession of at least three grams of heroin, 10 grams of other narcotics, 10 kilograms of marijuana, and five doses of Schedule I or II narcotics near a school, park, or public housing. It further includes the sale of narcotics, five or more kilograms of marijuana, 10 doses of a hallucinogen, and Schedule I or II substance to a minor.
Penalties: Third degree drug crimes can result in up to 20 years’ imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines.
These include the possession of at least 25 grams of cocaine or methamphetamines, six grams of heroin, 50 grams of other narcotics, 100 doses of a hallucinogen, and 25 kilograms of marijuana or 100 marijuana plants. It also includes the sale of at least three grams of heroin, 10 grams of any other narcotic, 50 doses of a hallucinogen, 10 kilograms of marijuana, and Schedule I or II narcotics to a minor.
Penalties: Second degree drug crimes can result in up to 30 years’ imprisonment and up to $500,000 in fines.
First degree offenses include the possession of at least 25 grams of heroin, 50 grams of cocaine or methamphetamines, and 50 kilograms of marijuana or 500 marijuana plants. Further, it includes the sale of at least 10 grams of heroin, 17 grams of cocaine or methamphetamines, 50 grams of other narcotics, 25 kilograms of marijuana, and 200 doses of hallucinogens.
Penalties: First degree drug crimes are the most serious and can result in up to 30 years’ imprisonment and up to $1 million in fines.
Dealing with Felony Drug Charges in Minnesota
Ask any drug crime lawyer in Minnesota, and they will tell you that no two drug cases are the same. No lawyer can guarantee that they will beat your charges without reviewing your case facts. However, the following pointers will help you understand the kind of defenses that can be used to fight the charges against you.
The Search for Drugs Was Illegal
The first thing that Minnesota drug crime lawyers consider is whether or not the drugs in question were retrieved through a legal search. If the law authorities conducted an illegal search of your home or car, the evidence obtained can be questioned because any evidence procured from an illegal search or seizure is not considered at trial.
This exclusionary rule states that the police cannot violate any individual’s Constitutional rights. Moreover, the evidence gathered by violating a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights are also considered null-and-void by the court.
The Lack of Knowledge of the Existence of the Illegal Drugs
Another effective defense used by drug crime lawyers in Minnesota is the lack of knowledge or awareness of the existence of illegal drugs.
Typically, when illegal drugs are found in a car, everyone in the vehicle is arrested. However, it is challenging for the police to prove these cases beyond a reasonable doubt.
For instance, if the police stops a car with three riders and drugs are discovered in one rider’s wallet, it is possible that the other two riders were unaware of its presence. The government needs to prove that the persons knowingly possessed the illegal drug, which can be quite difficult if the accused’s lawyer puts up a strong defense.
The Lack of or Inadequate Proof
If there is no or inadequate proof that the substance found is, in fact, an illegal drug, the drug crime charges cannot be established. For conviction to occur, the government has to prove that the alleged illegal substance is actually the drug they claim it to be.
The seized drugs are usually sent for testing to a crime laboratory. In some cases, the samples are lost or destroyed, the equipment isn’t calibrated, and so on. In such cases, an astute Minnesota drug crime attorney can question the results of the test and argue that the government failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the substance obtained was a narcotic. This can potentially get an accused acquitted of the criminal charge.
Even if your case cannot be dismissed, the charges may be reduced or penalties can be minimized. Numerous details surrounding each case can have a huge impact on the possible outcome. Consulting a reputed Minnesota drug crime lawyer is a must to determine what course of action is appropriate in your specific case.
A felony drug conviction can have an adverse impact on your life. Apart from facing lasting detrimental consequences, you can end up behind bars or paying exorbitant fines or both.
At Carlson & Jones P.A., our Minnesota drug crime attorney can help you by protecting your rights and fighting the charges levied, thereby abating or even eliminating the potential penalties you face. With our powerful legal defense on your side, you can look forward to positive outcomes in your case.
Depend on Our Minnesota Drug Crime Lawyer for Aggressive Representative
Originally published on July 6, 2020 and updated on September 16, 2021.