Marijuana legalization is a topic of discussion across the U.S. and within the state. The law has moved forward in this area, permitting medical use and decriminalizing possession of small amounts. However, in many cases, marijuana possession in the area remains a felony offense with stiff penalties. Those facing such drug charges may need the guidance and advice of an experienced Bloomington marijuana possession lawyer to navigate the system and avoid the consequences of this offense.
During interactions with the public, police often find small amounts of marijuana. Under Minnesota Statutes Annotated § 152.027, Subd. 4, this discovery will lead to petty misdemeanor charges as long as the amount of marijuana is less than 42.6 grams. Any amount over 42.5 grams fails to meet state law’s definition for a small amount. Individuals found guilty of this petty misdemeanor avoid jail time, and may be forced to pay a fine not exceeding $300. The judge may also order a referral to a drug education program.
Despite avoiding incarceration, this transgression will appear on a person’s record, making it available to those requesting criminal background checks, including future employers, educational institutions, and banks. By working with a skilled marijuana possession attorney in Bloomington, those accused may be better equipped to evaluate their options and possibly avoid the creation of an incriminating file.
Although control over small amounts of marijuana usually does not lead to serious charges, that may change if the drug is found in a motor vehicle. When marijuana is present in a person’s vehicle, the owner or operator of that vehicle when the seizure takes place may face a misdemeanor charge. Any amount over 1.4 grams qualifies for this elevation and exposes the defendant to a maximum of 90 days in jail, fines of up to $1,000, and driver’s license revocation for 30 days. For first-time offenders, the most likely punishment is the license revocation.
Under Minn. Stat. Ann. § 152.02, Subd. 2, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance. This Schedule identifies the most harmful drugs, and other than charges for small amounts, all possession charges are felonies. The penalties for felony marijuana possession are set out in Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 152.021 – 152.023 and 152.025. Whether the charge is a fifth-degree or first-degree offense depends on the amount of marijuana the individual possesses.
The greater the amount, the more severe the penalty. First-degree charges apply when defendants hold 100 kilograms or more, and they could spend up to 30 years in prison and pay up to $1,000,000 in fines. Fifth-degree offenses involve possession of 42.6 grams to 10 kilograms and expose suspects to a maximum of 5 years in prison and payment of $3,000 to $10,000 in fines. First-time offenders may benefit from sentences at the lower end of the range. Repeat offenders face stiffer punishments with each subsequent violation.
Applying the state’s marijuana possession laws to individual circumstances can be complicated, but an experienced Bloomington lawyer could help defendants interact with police and prosecutors to reach the best resolution for their cases.
Any conviction for possession charges, whether for a petty misdemeanor or a felony, will lead to penalties and a criminal history that will follow you into the future. It is in your best interest to minimize their impact on your life, and the assistance provided by a seasoned Bloomington marijuana possession lawyer may be invaluable. To start building your defense strategy, reach out to us today.