Charged With Drug Possession? Watch Out, Minnesota Has Stiff Penalties

In November 2011, Burnsville police served a search warrant on the apartment of young couple and their 16 month-old baby. What they found shocked them. The family was living amid filth, garbage and a slew of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Police found heroin, LSD, ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine, hypodermic needles and other items of paraphernalia, as well as a handgun, all within the child's reach on the floor.

As a result, the child's mother faces fifth degree felony drug possession charges, which could result in several years in prison. She is also charged with child neglect and child endangerment, each of which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail.

In Minnesota, the severity and punishment of drug crimes is tied to the type and amount of controlled substance involved. The penalties increase significantly when drugs are being manufactured and/or sold. In general, simple possession charges are broken down as follows:

First-degree controlled substance felony offense (the most serious), which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines

• Marijuana: 100 kilograms or more

• Amphetamines or hallucinogens: 500 grams or 500 doses or more

• Cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine: 25 grams or more

Second-degree controlled substance felony offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines

• Marijuana: 50 kilograms or more

• Amphetamines or hallucinogens: 50 grams or 100 doses or more

• Cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine: 6 grams or more

Third-degree controlled substance felony offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines

• Marijuana: 10 kilograms or more

• Hallucinogens: 5 or more doses

• Narcotics in pill form: 50 or more doses

• Cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine: 3 grams or more

A felony fourth-degree offense only applies to 10 or more doses of hallucinogens like LSD and can result in up to 15 years in prison and $100,000 in fines. A fifth-degree felony offense is the catchall and applies when a drug and its quantity do not fit into the first four degrees; nevertheless, a conviction carries a possible five year prison sentence and up to $10,000 in fines.

If you or a loved one has been charged with any type of drug offense, contact an experienced Minneapolis defense attorney who will aggressively challenge the charges against you and protect your constitutional rights.