Drug charges in Minnesota: What to expect

As someone accused of a drug crime in Minnesota, your first thought must be that you need to understand those charges. Minnesota has several levels of drug charges, and depending on the circumstances, you could face a misdemeanor or felony conviction.

There are five degrees of felony drug crimes that you can be charged with. The fifth-degree charges are least damaging to you and have the lightest penalties compared to the most serious first-degree charges. Here's a little more about each one.

1. First-degree charges

First-degree felonies are the most serious, and they're usually reserved for those selling or in possession of large amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine, narcotics, marijuana or hallucinogens. On the whole, it's recognized that those with these substantial amounts of drugs are likely selling or distributing them to others. The penalties range from a minimum of 158 months in prison to up to 30 years behind bars.

2. Second-degree felonies

Second-degree felonies are for those who possess lesser amounts of drugs, usually up to 10 grams of narcotics, three grams of heroin and so on. With a second-degree felony, you face up to 25 years in prison with a three-year minimum if you've been sentenced to a drug-related felony in the past.

3. Third-degree felonies

Third-degree felonies are reserved for defendants who have five or more kilos of marijuana, have sold any Schedule I or II drugs or have any amount of cocaine. You'll go to prison for up to 20 years and face fines of up to $250,000 if convicted.

4. Fourth-degree felonies

You'll face a fourth-degree charge if you sell marijuana in a school zone or possess Schedule I, II or III controlled substances. You'll face up to 15 years of prison and fines of up to $100,000.

5. Fifth-degree felonies

Fifth-degree felonies are for those who possess marijuana, Schedule I, II III, or IV drugs. You'll face up to five years in prison for the possession of these or the sale of any amount of marijuana, even in a small amount. You'll face up to $10,000 in fines for a fifth-degree felony conviction.

If you're facing any of these felonies, there's a risk that you could be convicted and receive the above penalties. There are additional penalties as well, depending on the specifics of your case. It's always wise to know exactly which penalties you face, so you know how to defend yourself in court and to determine if you can negotiate a lesser charge for reduced penalties.

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