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How are drug crimes handled in Minnesota?

By James

Over the years, sentences for drug charges in the state of Minnesota have become extremely harsh. Depending on the type and quantity of the drug in question, the offender will face different charges and the level of offense will vary. The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission has rules in place to determine the sentencing for different drug offenses. These sentences include presumptive sentences in order to encourage a sense of uniformity in sentencing.

The defendant’s past criminal record determines the actual length of a sentence for a drug charge in Minnesota, which means that repeat offenders face heavier penalties. The judge may consider other factors as well that will result in an increase in the potential jail sentence of the offender. An example of such factors include if the drug related offense took place in a school zone. If that is the case, even a first time offender may face a sentence of more than 12 years. Read on to understand the different guidelines as defined under Minnesota laws for each degree of drug offenses.

Penalties for Drug Offenses in Minnesota

Depending on the offense the person is charged with, if convicted, the person may have to serve jail time. The offender will also be charged with possession of drugs and or sale, or intent to sell drugs. Under Minnesota law, both powdered cocaine and crack are included under the definition of cocaine. The offender may also face the following charges:

  • Administering a drug to injure someone or to facilitate in the commission of a crime
  • Causing great bodily damage to someone, directly or indirectly
  • Selling, giving away, bartering, delivering, distributing or administering a controlled substance
  • Failing to purchase drug tax stamps

The offender may also face forfeiture of any vehicle or other property which was used in the commission of a crime

Severity of the offenses

Depending on the type of drug the person is found in possession of and the quantity of the drug, the offender can face a first degree drug charge, a second degree drug charge, all the way up to a fifth degree drug charge.

First Degree Drug Charge – The offender faces a first degree drug charge if they are found selling 10 grams crack, 200 doses hallucinogen, 50 kilos marijuana, or 50 grams of cocaine/heroin/methamphetamine.

In case the person is found possessing 25 grams of cocaine/heroin/methamphetamine, 100 kilos marijuana, 500 doses of hallucinogen or 500 grams of other narcotics, they will face a first degree drug charge.

The offender will be guilty of a first degree controlled substance crime if they are found manufacturing any amount of methamphetamine.

If convicted of a first degree drug charge, the person can face imprisonment of up to 30 years, and / or face a fine of no more than $1,000,000. Subsequent first degree drug related convictions carry higher penalties.

Second Degree Drug Charge – The offender faces a second degree drug charge if they are found selling 3 grams crack, 50 doses hallucinogen, 25 kilos marijuana, or 10 grams of cocaine/methamphetamine. Sale of any Schedule I or II narcotic drug to a person under 18 years, or to any person in a park zone or in a school zone will also result in a second degree drug charge.

In case the person is found possessing 6 grams of cocaine/heroin/methamphetamine, 50 kilos marijuana, 100 doses of hallucinogen or 50 grams of other narcotics, they will face a second degree drug charge.

If convicted of a second degree drug charge, the person can face imprisonment of up to 25 years, and / or face a fine of no more than $500,000. Subsequent second degree drug related convictions carry equal penalties.

Third Degree Drug Charge – The offender faces a third degree drug charge if they are found selling less than 3 grams crack, 10 doses hallucinogen, 5 kilo marijuana, or any Schedule I, II, or III drug. Sale of marijuana or any Schedule I or II narcotic drug to a person under 18 years will also result in a third degree drug charge.

In case the person is found possessing 3 grams of cocaine/heroin/methamphetamine, 10 kilos marijuana, 100 doses of hallucinogen or 10 grams of other narcotics, or any amount of a Schedule I or II narcotic drug in a school zone, they will face a third degree drug charge.

If convicted of a third degree drug charge, the person can face imprisonment of up to 20 years, and / or face a fine of no more than $250,000. Subsequent third degree drug related convictions carry higher penalties.

Fourth Degree Drug Charge –Sale of marijuana or any Schedule IV or V drug to a person under 18 years, or sale of any Schedule I, II or III drug, except marijuana, will result in a fourth degree drug charge.

In case the person is found possessing 10 doses hallucinogen, they will be facing a fourth degree drug charge.

If convicted of a fourth degree drug charge, the person can face imprisonment of up to 15 years, and / or face a fine of no more than $100,000. Subsequent third degree drug related convictions carry higher penalties.

Fifth Degree Drug Charge –Sale of marijuana or any Schedule IV drug will result in a fifth degree drug charge.

In case the person is found possessing any schedule 10 doses hallucinogen, I, II, III, or IV drugs, except 1.5 ounces or less of marijuana, they will be facing a fifth degree drug charge.

If convicted of a fifth degree drug charge, the person can face imprisonment of up to 5 years with a 6 months mandatory minimum if they have a prior drug felony, and face a fine of no more than $10,000.

Petty Misdemeanor Charge – If the offender possesses less than 1.5 ounces of marijuana, they will face a petty misdemeanor charge. A petty misdemeanor is not considered a “crime” and is punishable by a fine of up to $200 along with enrolment in an approved drug education program. A second conviction is considered a crime and carries the possibility of jail time.

The offender may even face Federal charges related to drug crimes, which carry even higher penalties and severe consequences. Based on the type of drug crime, it is advised to contact a criminal defense attorney who can help reduce the potential penalties.

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