Types of Drug Crimes
To understand how drug offenses work in Minnesota, you should realize the forms of conduct that are prohibited by drug laws. Under the statute on drugs and controlled substances, there are three types of acts that could lead to an arrest, including:
- Possession: This offense refers to having a controlled substance on your person, or otherwise within your control. Possession could be through a pocket, on your person, in parts of your vehicle, and in your home. In addition, you could be arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, including pipes, baggies, bongs, vape pens, and other items used to consume controlled substances.
- Manufacturing: Any act related to producing controlled substances is prohibited. This may include manufacturing, growing plants, storage, weighing, packaging, and any other conduct that relates to the manufacturing process.
- Trafficking: This type of drug offense pertains to business transactions surrounding the transfer of controlled substances to other individuals. Buying, selling, transporting, and related acts are prohibited, regardless of whether you were exchange money or some other item of value.
From these descriptions, you can see that all three forms of drug crimes are defined very broadly under Minnesota law. Plus, there may be some overlap among them, potentially leading to more serious charges or multiple counts. Due to these complications, having skilled legal representation is critical to defending the charges.
Different Degrees of Drug Charges in Minnesota
Beyond the forms of conduct that’s prohibited by state law, there are also different degrees of offenses. The severity of the charges depends upon the type of drug and the amount. Minnesota uses a schedule of controlled substances, separating different drugs into five categories according to their accepted medical usage, risk of leading to addiction, and other factors. In general, the degree of the crime is a product of:
- Its listing on the Schedule of Controlled Substances ranging from I to V, with I as the most dangerous;
- The amount of the drug, by weight; and,
- What you were doing with the controlled substance, i.e., possessing, manufacturing, or trafficking.
Specifically, the five degrees of drug charges in Minnesota are:
Fifth Degree: Though it’s the least serious offense, you could still face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted for Fifth Degree drug crimes. This category includes possession of any amount of drugs on Schedule I through IV.
Fourth Degree: A conviction for this offense classification could include incarceration up to 15 years, plus a maximum fine of $100,000. Sales and possession with intent to sell both fall in this category.
Third Degree: The penalties increase to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for an offense in the Third Degree. These crimes typically involve higher amounts of Schedule I and II drugs.
Second Degree: If convicted, you face up to 25 years incarceration and a $500,000 fine. Many of these offenses are based upon where the sales transaction took places, such as a school, park, or public housing zone.
First Degree: You could be charged with this highest degree of criminal drug activity for larger amounts of the most dangerous drugs. For a conviction, a judge may sentence up to 30 years in prison, plus a $1 million fine.
Do’s and Don’ts After an Arrest for Drug Crimes in Minnesota
In the chaos of an arrest, you’ll have many questions about what to do and not do to protect yourself. The first task is to retain an attorney for drug charges, so request to speak with your lawyer right away. In addition, a few tips in the immediate aftermath of an arrest include:
Do Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent: It’s critical that you avoid making any statements to arresting officers, even if you just want to express your innocence. Anything you say could harm your case, so exercise this very-important constitutional right.
Don’t Resist or Fight Police: Never try to avoid an arrest by interfering with officers’ efforts. Save this fight for later, in court, with your attorney. You could face additional charges if you resist or cause bodily harm.
Do Refuse a Search of Your Home: If the police arrive at your home or business to charge you, step outside the door and allow them to make the arrest. Never consent to a warrantless search, which could turn up additional evidence against you.
Don’t Fall for Police Interrogation Tactics: Police may use tricks to get you to talk, perhaps by promising leniency, playing “good cop-bad cop,” or other tactics. It’s also common for narcotics investigators to promise your case will go away if you simply cooperate and either “give up your sources” or participate in a controlled by. Please know the police are not on your side. They’re simply looking to make another arrest. Remember your right to remain silent and don’t be fooled by these efforts.
Discuss Defense Options with a Skilled Drug Attorney in MN
If you were arrested for any type of drug crimes, the key to obtaining a favorable outcome is retaining a criminal defense attorney for drug charges. To learn more about your options to fight the allegations, please contact Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. at 651-222-6603 or via our website. We can set up a no-cost consultation at our offices in St. Paul, MN or Fargo, ND. Our MN drug lawyers tackle tough criminal cases throughout Minnesota and North Dakota, including those involving serious drug offenses.