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Mitigating circumstance may have helped Moorhead mom in drug case

Anyone who has been exposed to the Law & Order television franchise or any other legal drama for that matter has probably heard the term "mitigating circumstances." This is a factor in the justice arena that is intended to give judges some measure of latitude when meting out sentences in criminal cases if circumstances seem to suggest that some measure of mercy is called for.

Experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorneys know the importance of such factors and seek to be sure that they are considered in any proceedings where they might be leveraged. If they can't be employed to get charges dismissed, they might be used to argue for an easing of any sentence that might be imposed.

It may be thanks to this latter strategy that a Moorhead mother now finds herself under house arrest with electronic monitoring and five years of probation after she pleaded guilty to one charge of fifth-degree felony drug sale.

According to WDAY TV, she had been facing multiple charges. It says most of them were dismissed under a plea agreement negotiated by attorneys in the case. And under the reported terms of her probation, if she completes drug treatment and doesn't violate her probation, there will be no criminal record against her.

The case is an interesting one for a number of reasons. Case records indicate that the mother was turned into police by her 9-year-old daughter for allegedly operating a marijuana growing operation in her home. The girl reportedly said the environment was making her sick and that she was worried about her dog.

It isn't clear from the reports on the case just what may have prompted the judge to depart from usual sentencing guidelines, but the defendant's attorney did argue at sentencing that her client has a prescription for medical marijuana to treat multiple sclerosis.

And an indicator that the condition is a real one is the fact that the county is paying for the electronic monitoring. That's a charge that would normally be footed by the defendant, but the woman's attorney says the county is covering the cost because it wouldn't be able to cover her medical needs in jail.

Source: INFORUM, "Mom whose kid turned her in for growing pot gets home monitoring," Emily Welker, Oct. 20, 2015

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