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Being arrested for cocaine possession can be a confusing and frightening experience. Minnesota, like many states, has strict laws regarding controlled substances, and cocaine falls under this category.

If you’ve been arrested for cocaine possession, you may be wondering, Is possession of cocaine a felony? The short answer is yes.

Possession of any amount of cocaine constitutes a felony. The amount of drugs you allegedly possess will determine the severity of your penalty.

Today, our St. Paul criminal defense attorneys will discuss Minnesota’s cocaine possession laws, potential penalties, and the essential role a Minnesota drug crimes lawyer can play in your defense.

If you have questions, or would like to share your story with our experienced defense team, please contact us today.

Minnesota Laws and Penalties for Cocaine Possession

Minnesota classifies cocaine as a Schedule I controlled substance. This means the legislature has determined it has a high potential for abuse and no legitimate medical purpose.

So, how much cocaine is a felony? Under Minnesota law, possession of any amount of cocaine is illegal. However, the severity of the charges and potential penalties depend on the quantity the State accuses you of possessing.

  • Small amounts (less than 3 grams). Possession of less than 3 grams of cocaine is a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Moderate amounts (3 to 25 grams). This is a second-degree controlled substance crime, with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
  • Larger amounts (25 grams or more). Possession of large amounts of cocaine is a first-degree controlled substance crime, the most severe drug possession charge in Minnesota. This charge results in a hefty fine of up to $1 million and a staggering prison sentence of up to 30 years.

The presence of a firearm or other specific aggravating factors while possessing cocaine can significantly increase the severity of charges and penalties. 

These are the maximum penalties. Depending on the circumstances, such as the arrest details, drug amount, and your criminal background, a skilled St. Paul drug crimes lawyer can potentially negotiate a lesser charge or a more favorable outcome.

Crack Cocaine vs. Powder Cocaine Penalties

Minnesota law treats crack cocaine and powder cocaine similarly for possession charges. The penalties are based solely on the weight of the drug, not the specific form.

For example, possession of any amount of cocaine over 25 grams is a first-degree felony, regardless of whether it is crack cocaine or powder cocaine. 

It is essential to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to understand the potential consequences and explore all possible legal options. 

Defenses for Cocaine Possession Charges

A skilled Minnesota drug crimes lawyer can explore various legal avenues to defend your case, depending on the circumstances of your arrest. Here are some common defense strategies.

  • Illegal search and seizure. If the police obtained the cocaine through an unlawful search or seizure, your lawyer can argue for the evidence to be excluded from court. If the judge excludes enough evidence, the prosecutor may be forced to give you a favorable plea or dismiss your case completely.
  • Lack of knowledge. One of the elements of a possession charge is that you knew you had the drugs and knew their nature as a controlled substance. If circumstances suggest a lack of such knowledge, your attorney could build a compelling defense for you.
  • Possession for personal use. If the amount is negligible and for personal use, your lawyer can negotiate for alternative sentencing options like drug court or probation.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for the best defense strategy. It will vary based on the specific circumstances of your case.

Why You Should Hire a Minnesota Drug Crimes Lawyer

The consequences of a cocaine possession conviction in Minnesota are severe. Here’s why hiring a skilled lawyer is crucial:

  • Understanding Minnesota’s Legal Landscape. The State’s drug laws are complicated. An experienced lawyer knows local procedures, prosecutors, and judges and can provide valuable guidance and representation throughout the legal process.
  • Negotiating with prosecutors. Your lawyer can negotiate a plea bargain with reduced charges or lighter sentences.
  • Moving to suppress evidence. A seasoned attorney will move to have evidence excluded if your arrest violated your rights. They will draft the motion and argue the suppression motion—which could critically weaken the prosecution’s case.
  • Exploring alternative sentencing. Your lawyer can explore alternative sentencing options like drug treatment programs, depending on the circumstances. 

Having a skilled lawyer by your side can positively affect your case. Contact one as soon as possible to discuss your options. 

Let Us Defend You Against Cocaine Possession Charges

The Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka is a Minnesota-based law firm.

We understand the gravity of the situation, and we are here to fight for you. Our attorneys are relentless advocates familiar with plea bargaining, suppression of evidence, and alternative sentencing options.

We believe in open communication and collaboration. You’ll have direct access to your attorney throughout the legal process, ensuring you’re informed every step of the way. 

Contact us today for a confidential consultation, and let our experience work for you.


What If I’m Caught with Cocaine and It Is My First Offense?

Penalties are based on the amount of cocaine you possess, any aggravating factors, and your criminal history. Your lawyer might be able to negotiate probation or a diversion program for a first-time offense involving a small amount of cocaine.

Can I Get Probation?

Probation is possible, especially if you are a first-time offender with only a small amount of substance. However, this depends heavily on the specific circumstances of your case. 

What Happens If I’m Caught with Drug Paraphernalia?

Possession of drug paraphernalia, such as pipes or scales, might be a separate offense. Your lawyer can advise you on the law and specific penalties of such a charge.

Can I Expunge a Cocaine Possession Conviction?

Expungement allows you to have certain criminal records sealed. The offense severity and criminal history determine your eligibility for expungement. Not all drug convictions qualify. Consult a lawyer to determine if you are eligible for expungement.

How Can a Cocaine Possession Charge Affect My Future? 

A felony conviction on your record can make it difficult to find a job, cause you to lose professional licenses, and limit your housing options. However, your lawyer can help by fighting for a reduced charge or dismissal, which can minimize the long-term impact on your life.

What Is the Difference Between a Public Defender and a Private Minnesota Drug Crimes Lawyer?

Public defenders are appointed by the court free of charge but often have high caseloads. High caseloads mean that each case gets less attention. No matter how dedicated a public defender is, there are only so many hours in a day.

Private lawyers provide personalized attention and often have significantly more experience than public defenders. They have the time to devote to your case and the expertise necessary to help get you the best possible outcome. 

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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