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Stay Calm and Call a Lawyer

A first-degree drug possession charge in Minnesota can land you in deep trouble. You’re left confused, scared, and unsure of what to do next.

Before you panic, try to remain calm and take a deep breath. Knowing your rights and potential defenses is your first line of defense.

Today, the Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka will explain the law, your rights, possible defenses, and why having a Minnesota drug crimes lawyer on your side is important.

Here’s what you need to know to fight this charge head-on.

What Is First-Degree Drug Possession in Minnesota

Drug possession offenses in Minnesota are classified based on the type and quantity of controlled substances involved. A first-degree drug possession charge is the most severe level and comes with significant penalties. 

To be charged with 1st-degree drug possession, you must be accused of unlawfully possessing one or more of the following within 90 days:

  • Fifty or more grams of a mixture containing cocaine or methamphetamine;
  • Twenty-five or more grams of a cocaine or methamphetamine mixture if you also possess a firearm;
  • Twenty-five or more grams of a heroin mixture;
  • Five hundred or more grams of a mixture containing a narcotic other than cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine; or
  • Manufacturing any amount of methamphetamine.

The severity of the charge can be further amplified if you also possess a firearm.

Consequences of First-Degree Drug Possession Conviction in Minnesota

A first-degree drug possession conviction in Minnesota is a severe felony with life-altering consequences. The potential penalties include possible imprisonment of up to 30 years and fines of up to one million dollars.

Your exact sentence will depend on various factors, including your criminal history and the specific circumstances of your case.

A Note on Mandatory Minimum Sentences & Sentencing Guidelines

For individuals with a prior drug conviction, a first-degree drug possession charge can carry a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison.

Other certain first-time 1st Degree Drug charges can also trigger mandatory minimum sentences. 1st Degree Drug cases involving an allegation of sale or possession of 100 or more grams or 500 or more dosage units carries a 65-month mandatory minimum prison sentence.

1st Degree Drug cases involving an allegation of sale or possession of 100 or more grams or 500 or more dosage units AND an allegation of the use of a gun carries an 86-month mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Even for first-time offenders, Minnesota sentencing guidelines typically recommend a prison sentence of 65 months, though not necessarily a mandatory minimum requirement.

Understanding Your Rights Following a First-Degree Drug Charge

Being arrested and charged with a crime can be extremely stressful. However, Minnesota law details the rights of those accused of crimes, including:

  • Right to remain silent. You have the right to remain silent and can refuse to answer any questions from law enforcement until you have an attorney present. At a minimum, you can exercise your right to see a lawyer before answering questions.
  • Right to an attorney. You have the right to an attorney throughout the legal process. The court will appoint a public defender if you cannot afford one. 

Hiring a knowledgeable drug crimes attorney in Minnesota who is familiar with the state’s laws can greatly enhance the likelihood of a favorable outcome. Contact Arechigo & Stokka today for a free consultation.

Potential Defenses 

A Minnesota drug crimes lawyer can explore various legal defenses tailored to the specifics of your case. Some possible defenses include:

  • Illegal search and seizure. Your lawyer can move to exclude any evidence obtained through an unlawful search or seizure by law enforcement. If the judge excludes crucial evidence, your case could be dismissed or at least greatly weakened.
  • Lack of knowledge. You may be able to argue that you were unaware of the nature or quantity of the substance that was found near you. If you are unaware of the nature of the substance, you lack the requisite criminal intent to sustain a conviction.
  • Entrapment. If law enforcement coerces you to commit the crime you would otherwise not be disposed to commit, you may have a valid defense.

A Minnesota criminal defense attorney can analyze the evidence and develop the most effective approach on your behalf.

Why Do You Need a Minnesota Drug Crimes Lawyer?

The complexities of Minnesota drug laws and the severity of potential penalties necessitate the expertise of a seasoned Minnesota drug crimes lawyer. An experienced attorney can do all of the following:

  • Investigate the circumstances of your arrest—a thorough investigation can uncover weaknesses in the prosecution’s case;
  • Develop a strong defense strategy—based on your situation, your lawyer will build a compelling defense to fight the charges;
  • Negotiate with prosecutors—your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution to reduce the charges or pursue alternative sentencing options, such as drug treatment programs; and
  • Represent you in court—your attorney is trained in the rules of evidence and trial practice, so they can take your case to trial if that becomes necessary. 

Your attorney is a source of knowledge on the legal process and can help you understand your rights. They can also advise you on potential outcomes and strategies to achieve the best possible result in your case. 

Arechigo & Stokka, Your Minnesota Drug Crimes Lawyers

Facing a first-degree drug possession charge in Minnesota requires immediate and decisive action. The attorneys of Arechigo & Stokka have in-depth knowledge of Minnesota drug laws.

Our relentless defense strategies have helped dozens of clients achieve positive outcomes, including reduced or dismissed charges and alternatives to incarceration.

Our experienced attorneys in Minnesota—serving St. Paul, Minneapolis, and nearby areas—will relentlessly defend your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your drug crime case.

Contact us for a free consultation. We’ll provide the aggressive defense you need during this challenging time.


Can I Get a Reduced Sentence If I Cooperate with Law Enforcement?

This possibility depends on the specifics of your case. Your Minnesota drug crimes lawyer can advise you on the potential benefits and risks of cooperating with law enforcement.

What Happens If I’m Caught with a Smaller Amount of Drugs?

The penalties for drug possession vary based on the type and amount of the controlled substance. A lesser amount of drugs typically results in a lower-level charge with less severe penalties.

Can I Get Drug Treatment Instead of Jail Time?

Some Minnesota jurisdictions offer drug court, which could allow eligible defendants to participate in a treatment program as an alternative to incarceration. Your lawyer can also use your treatment efforts to argue for a dispositional departure which would result in a probationary sentence instead of prison, if granted. 

What Happens If I Have a Prior Drug Conviction?

Having a prior drug conviction can escalate the severity of the penalties. Your lawyer can still fight the charge and explore mitigation options.

What Are the Chances of Getting My Charges Dismissed?

This depends on the specifics of your case. An attorney can assess the prosecution’s evidence and explore potential weaknesses.

Author Photo John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.

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