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Drug crime charges are complex and often very serious in nature. Minnesota in particular doesn’t take drug charges lightly, and many of the penalties are quite harsh. Drug crimes can be at either the state or federal level, and there are literally hundreds of different outcomes for a trial depending on the drug, amount in question, how it was used, and other factors.
The first confusing element of a drug crime is related to the type of drugs involved. Even legal drugs can be considered illegal under certain circumstances. For example, while amphetamines like Adderall are legal with a valid prescription, they’re considered illegal if you don’t have one. If you buy Adderall from a friend because you ran out of your prescription and the doctor’s office was closed, you can be assured that both you and your friend could face drug charges.
Furthermore, drugs are divided into different categories based on their potential to be abused and lead to dependency. For example, marijuana and heroin are considered schedule I drugs, meaning they’re considered the most “dangerous.” Controlled substances like Adderall and Vicodin, while still considered dangerous, are Schedule II drugs. The higher the schedule number, the less potential the drug is considered to have for abuse.
Aside from the type of drug you have, the amount of drug and what you were doing with it will affect your charges. For example, if you’re caught with more than five kilograms (roughly 11 pounds) of marijuana, you’ll be charged with selling marijuana. In contrast, if you’re caught with any amount of a schedule I, II, or III drug in a school zone, you’ll also face drug selling charges. As you can see, there are multiple factors that go into determining a drug charge and the penalties.
As previously stated, penalties in Minnesota for drug crimes can be harsh. Charges are divided into five degrees, with the first degree being the most severe. Simply having any amount of Schedule I, II, III, or IV drugs (except marijuana) can get you up to five years of jail time, $10,000 in fines, and 19 months of probation. Fifth degree charges can land you in prison for up to 30 years with up to $1 million in fines.
However, the penalties that go along with drug crimes in Minnesota are ultimately up to the judge. He or she has the power to reduce your charges, drop certain charges, and alter your sentence. Your attorney’s job is to gather evidence to support your case and keep your sentence as close to the minimum as possible, and in some cases, have your charges dismissed completely.
Just like there are many elements that make up a drug charge, there are also many defenses for drug charges. For example, your attorney may attempt to get you into a diversion program if you’re a first time offender with a possession charge. Under the diversion program, you’ll enter a plea of guilty and agree to go through a substance abuse program (usually for 18 months). If you complete this program and don’t commit any other offenses in the time frame, your charges will be dismissed and removed from your record. If you fail to fulfill these requirements, the guilty plea will stick, and you’ll incur additional charges and penalties.
Aside from the diversion program, there are many other alternatives to the maximum penalties allowed by the law. In some cases, you may attend rehab instead of taking jail time. In other cases, your charges may be “pled down” to less serious ones. All of this depends on the expertise of your counsel. Our criminal defense lawyers in Mankato have years of experience in a variety of criminal defense laws, including drug crime defense. We’ll fight on your side to get you the most minimal charges and sentencing possible, and in some situations, have your case dismissed. Contact us today for a free consultation.