Felony vs. Misdemeanor Drug Charges in Minnesota

We’ve talked a lot about drinking and driving, but there’s another topic that warrants (no pun intended) attention. The topic? Drug charges. The official term is “Controlled substance” charges. According to 2010 Minnesota statute 152.01, controlled substance means “a drug, substance, or immediate precursor [….] The term shall not include distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, intoxicating liquors or tobacco.” Translation: drugs; not cigarettes or alcohol. Minnesota’s controlled substance charges are ranked on a scale of severity ranging from first degree (the most serious) to fifth degree (the least serious). Don’t be fooled by the term “least serious,” though -- all five degrees constitute felonies. Felony controlled substance charges all carry mandatory sentences, though -- in the case of lesser offenses -- prison time may be stayed. Still, even a fifth degree conviction carries a potential sentence of up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines. In Minnesota, misdemeanor controlled substance charges are generally reserved for possession of a small amount (1.5 ounces or less) of marijuana with no aggravating factors such as fraud, deceit, or simultaneous operation of a motor vehicle. Misdemeanor penalties often involve fines and required participation in drug education classes. Multiple misdemeanor convictions within a certain period of time can result in your conviction being elevated to a felony. Minnesota has a history of very low tolerance for drug offenders. That’s why, if you or a loved one faces potential controlled substance charges, you need top-notch representation. Contact us today to learn more.