Minnesota addresses crimes involving the sale of illegal drugs in a variety of ways. One way is by arresting and vigorously prosecuting those who engage in distributing these substances. A second way is by imposing stiff penalties on those convicted. If suspected of this drug-related crime, the best way for you to avoid the most severe punishments is to establish a robust defense strategy with the help of a seasoned Minnesota drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer.
The Crime of Intent to Distribute Drugs
Police charge a person with possession with intent to distribute when that person has custody of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), and other factors indicate that their plan is to provide the drugs to others. The law categorizes these unlawful substances in five schedules in Minnesota Statutes Annotated § 152.02.
Evidence that supports a plan to distribute includes possession of a sizable quantity of drugs, large amounts of cash, and equipment or materials related to the use, manufacture, testing, and enhancement of harmful chemicals, otherwise known as drug paraphernalia. For example, the presence of baggies and scales used for packaging small amounts of the drug may substantiate the required intent.
To establish this crime and reach a guilty verdict, the state must prove both elements of the crime – that the suspect possessed the drug, and that they planned to sell, share, or otherwise deliver the substance to others. If one factor is missing, the defendant did not commit possession with intent to distribute, though they may be found guilty of a lesser crime, such as possession or conspiracy to distribute drugs.
With an experienced Minnesota possession with intent to distribute lawyer defending them, a defendant may have a better chance of defeating these charges through an acquittal, a conviction on less serious offenses, or a plea deal.
Minnesota’s Range of Penalties for Intent to Distribute
The punishments handed down for this offense depend on the drug quantity, the applicable schedule, and aggravating considerations, such as the use of a firearm. Possession with intent to distribute charges range from first-degree offenses to fifth-degree. Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 152.021 through 152.025 outline the various levels, with first-degree being the most serious.
The punishment for this violation starts with fines not to exceed $3,000, but most low-level, fifth-degree convictions lead to sentences of up to five years in prison and maximum fines of $10,000. At the upper end, first-degree offenses subject defendants to up to 40 years in prison and fines up to $1 million. First-time offenders tend to receive sentences at the lower end of the range. Courts often order extended imprisonment and higher fines for those with prior violations or aggravating circumstances.
Additional Fallout from a Possession with Intent to Distribute Conviction
Immediately upon having contact with the criminal justice system, a person establishes a criminal record. This history is available to those who request such information as part of a legitimate background check. The disclosure of a drug-related offense can complicate a person’s ability to redeem themselves and change the course of their life. A criminal record may render a person ineligible for loans, housing, educational opportunities, and employment openings. Former convicts may also lose the custody of their children, right to own firearms, and risk deportation, if applicable.
These are serious and far-reaching consequences. Representation by a skilled Minnesota attorney may give those accused of possession with intent to distribute the tools they need to protect their rights and safeguard their futures.
Protect Yourself from Intent to Distribute Charges with a Minnesota Attorney
Facing serious drug-related charges is a scary and challenging situation. You can take some control back by hiring an accomplished Minnesota drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer. We focus on your best interests, so please reach out today for an initial consultation.