If you are found with drugs in Minnesota, whether you face trafficking charges will depend on the weight of the drugs in your possession. Those under suspicion for drug trafficking face severe penalties, including loss of freedom, substantial fines, and criminal records.
A Minnesota drug trafficking lawyer is well-versed in this area of law and is familiar with the local criminal court procedures and the authorities who will prosecute your case. A qualified attorney could apply all of this experience to help you reach the most beneficial outcome in your particular case.
Drug Trafficking Defined
In Minnesota, trafficking is primarily a crime of possession. However, it differs from simple possession charges because of the large amounts of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) found in a defendant’s custody. Trafficking is also similar to the crime of possession with the intent to distribute, but authorities determine that the sizable amounts of drugs recovered warrant the elevated charge of trafficking.
For example, possession of the following illegal drug amounts may support a trafficking indictment:
- 100 or more kilograms of marijuana
- 500 or more kilograms of PCP
- 25 or more grams of heroin or cocaine
In some instances, a defendant will face charges on all three offenses. Sometimes, despite having the requisite amount of a drug, the state may doubt the strength of its evidence to win a trafficking conviction, and prosecutors may be open to plea bargaining down to lesser offenses. Working with a seasoned attorney in Minnesota may open up opportunities to negotiate with the prosecutors, reduce the level of the charges, and avoid the harshest penalties.
Punishments Imposed for Trafficking
Drug trafficking is a first-degree controlled substances crime outlined in Minnesota Statutes Annotated § 152.021. Sentences for those convicted start with prison terms up to 30 years, fines not to exceed $1 million, or both. Subsequent violations carry increased imprisonment periods of four to 40 years. Aggravating factors, such as brandishing or threatening another person with a gun, can lead to enhanced sentences of 86 months to 40 years in prison, even for first-time offenders.
The law requires that persons found guilty of first-degree drug trafficking serve mandatory minimums before becoming eligible for parole, probation, or supervised release. The minimum time in prison is two-thirds of the imposed incarceration period.
A robust defense plan is necessary to escape penalties at the upper end of the sentencing guidelines. Skilled defense counsel familiar with Minnesota drug trafficking violations could assist defendants in minimizing the long-term effects of these charges.
Trafficking Is Also a Federal Offense
Federal law also prohibits the possession, manufacturing, distribution, sale, and trafficking of controlled substances at 21 United States Code §§ 841 through 843. The Code identifies the relevant illicit drugs in the same manner as Minnesota by establishing five schedules. These schedules, in conjunction with the amount of drugs present and any aggravating factors, determine the degree of the crime and appropriate punishments. Defendants charged with federal drug trafficking may receive prison terms ranging from one year to life and hefty fines. These penalties are in addition to sentences imposed for state law convictions.
The possibility of facing consequences under both federal and state criminal charges raises the stakes for those accused. A qualified Minnesota drug trafficking attorney could work with defendants to develop comprehensive defense strategies to refute the prosecution’s case.
Build Your Case with a Skilled Minnesota Drug Trafficking Attorney
The state employs experienced, determined attorneys to prosecute drug crime cases and makes every possible resource available to attain convictions. Although you may be under suspicion of committing a drug trafficking offense, you are innocent until proven guilty and deserve an equally vigorous defense. Our Minnesota drug trafficking lawyers may be the solution you need. We are ready to assist you, so please call us to schedule a consultation as soon as possible.