Although Minnesota drug laws have changed slightly over the years, possession laws remain complex and impose stringent penalties. If you find yourself facing charges for this crime, the best course of action may be to consult a reputable Minnesota drug possession lawyer. With an experienced attorney’s assistance, you may have the best chance to build a successful defense and minimize potential punishments.
Identifying Controlled Dangerous Substances in Minnesota
Controlled dangerous substances (CDS) are drugs or materials that pose great harm to human health and have a high likelihood of addiction. The definition of CDS is found at Minnesota Statutes Annotated § 152.01, Subd. 4. This section clarifies that intoxicating liquids do not pass as CDS, but ingredients used to manufacture dangerous drugs, even everyday household items will qualify.
Minnesota identifies specific chemicals as CDS in Minn. Stat. Ann. § 152.02, dividing such drugs into five categories. Schedule I identifies the most dangerous and Schedule V contains the least. Examples at each level include:
- Schedule I – heroin and amphetamines
- Schedule II – cocaine and oxycodone
- Schedule III – certain narcotics and anabolic steroids
- Schedule IV – certain depressants and stimulants
- Schedule V – ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamines
Drug possession is also a crime under federal law, and a separate list of CDS applies in federal cases.
Minnesota’s drug schedules are complex, and in some cases, the compounds listed in each schedule seem to overlap. Some schedules contain drugs available legally with a doctor’s prescription but holding them without such permission is a crime. An experienced drug possession attorney in Minnesota could help someone understand how these statutory schedules apply to their unique situations.
Factors Influencing Drug Possession Charges
Minnesota lays out criminal CDS possession at Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 152.021 through 152.025. The most severe, described in Section 152.021, is a first-degree offense, while the least is a fifth-degree. Central to the level of the charge is the schedule listing the drug, the amount the person controlled, and any aggravating issues, such as the presence of a deadly weapon. Penalties decrease as the drug’s threat becomes less potent. For example, circumstances involving Schedule I drugs and greater possession amounts result in higher-level offense charges and more stringent penalties.
Criminal Charges for Possessing a CDS
To face charges for illegal possession, defendants do not need to have the substance on their persons. The concept of possession extends to areas or property in the person’s control, such as their home or car. No matter the offense level, defendants for this crime may face time behind bars and fines.
All possession offenses are felonies, except for certain fifth-degree violations, which are gross misdemeanors. The penalty ranges for first-time offenders are as follows:
- Fifth degree: Incarceration of up to five years; fines from $3,000 to $10,000
- Fourth degree: Incarceration of up to 15 years; fines not to exceed $100,000
- Third degree: Incarceration of up to 20 years; fines not to exceed $250,000
- Second degree: Incarceration of up to 25 years; fines not to exceed $500,000
- First degree: Incarceration of up to 30 years; fines not to exceed $1,000,000
For first and second-degree crimes, the mandatory sentencing requirements force offenders to serve two-thirds of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole, probation, or supervised release. Subsequent infractions expose suspects to longer incarceration times and higher fines.
Defendants facing drug possession violations may need the help of a seasoned Minnesota possession attorney familiar with this area to respond effectively to the state’s accusations.
A Minnesota Drug Possession Attorney Could Build Your Defense
A well-planned defense strategy is crucial to protecting your rights and future. To begin creating your plan, you should get in touch with a member of our team of seasoned Minnesota drug possession lawyers. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get started on your case.