Possession of a controlled substance is a serious crime in Minnesota. Even possession of a small amount of certain drugs can be considered a gross-misdemeanor or felony-level offense, and the penalties for these crimes can include significant fines and jail time. If you’ve been charged with a controlled substance possession crime in Minnesota, you should consult with a Minnesota Drug Defense Attorney at once to review your case.
Every drug/controlled substance case is unique, and no one can give you exact guidance without reviewing the specifics of your circumstances. This post is intended to provide an overview of Minnesota law as it pertains to drug possession cases generally.
What charge am I facing?
Minnesota has five levels of controlled substance possession crimes (first through fifth degree), with first degree being the most severe, and fifth degree the least. Generally, the amount in weight or dosage of a given drug in one’s possession is what determines the degree of the charge. The chart below outlines Minnesota law for charging based on different amounts of various types of drugs. Note that the charging degrees differ significantly based on whether the charge is a possession or sale allegation.
Other factors include whether there were any aggravating factors (see below) or whether it was a “zone offense,” which means the possession occurred within a park, school, public housing, or drug treatment facility zone.
What are “aggravating factors?”
Minnesota law outlines ten aggravating factors related to controlled substance crimes. In certain circumstances, the presence of aggravating factors may increase the severity of a controlled substance crime. Aggravating factors include:
- previous conviction of a violent crime
- commission of the immediate offense for the benefit of a gang
- separate acts of sale or possession of a controlled substance in three or more counties
- transfer of controlled substances across a state or international border into Minnesota
- three separate transactions in which controlled substances were sold, transferred, or possessed with the intent to sell or transfer
- the circumstances of the offense reveal the defendant to have occupied a high position in the drug distribution hierarchy
- use of position or status to facilitate the commission of the offense
- sale of a controlled substance to a minor or vulnerable adult
- manufacture, sale, or possession in a school zone, park zone, correctional facility, or drug treatment facility
- possession of equipment, drug paraphernalia, documents, or money evidencing that the offense involved the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, or possession of controlled substances in quantities substantially larger than the minimum threshold for the offense
What if I’ve been charged with another controlled substance crime?
Other controlled substance crimes include importing across state borders, possession of substances with the intent to manufacture, and sale of controlled substances. These are serious crimes that could carry stiff penalties for conviction. On the other side of the spectrum, even relatively minor offenses such as possession of drug paraphernalia or possession of a small amount of marijuana can also have long-lasting and severe consequences that you will want to discuss with an experienced attorney. Drug convictions can affect a person’s employment, housing, education, and other important aspects of everyday life.
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