While drug-related charges are quite common, they should not be taken lightly.
In Minnesota, even a small amount of certain controlled substances could constitute a 5th-degree drug crime, potentially leading to a felony conviction or a gross misdemeanor penalized with years in prison and steep fines.
If you or a loved one has been convicted of a drug crime, a Minnesota drug crimes attorney can help.
What is 5th Degree Drug Possession in MN?
Under Minnesota Statutes §152.025, 5th-degree drug possession includes:
- Possessing one or more controlled substances under Schedule I, II, III, or IV. These include cocaine, heroin, LSD, meth, Xanax, Vicodin, marijuana, and more. However, the one exception is “small amounts” of marijuana, which is less than 42.5 grams; OR
- Possessing or attempting to control any controlled substance through fraud or deceit. Examples are using a false name, giving false credit, or pretending to be an authority (physician, pharmacist, dentist, etc).
Is 5th Degree Drug Possession a Felony or Misdemeanor in MN?
The classification of the crime depends on the severity. 5th-degree drug possession is a gross misdemeanor if the defendant has no prior drug charges and:
- the controlled substance possessed is not heroin and is less than 0.25 grams (or one dosage unit if it is measured in dosage units), OR
- the controlled substance is heroin and is less than 0.05 grams.
The charge rises to 5th-degree felony drug possession in MN if any of the following is alleged:
- the controlled substance is marijuana amounting to 42.5 grams or more
- the controlled substance is heroin amounting to 0.05 grams or more, and the defendant has a prior drug conviction
- the controlled substance is other drugs amounting to 0.25 grams or more, or more than one dosage units
- the defendant is accused of or attempting to possess the substance via fraud or deceit.
What are the Consequences of 5th Degree Possession of Controlled Substance in MN?
A gross misdemeanor conviction of 5th-degree drug possession is punishable with imprisonment for up to one year. Meanwhile, a felony conviction of 5th-degree drug possession is punishable with a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the current charge is a second drug offense for the defendant, a minimum jail sentence of six months may be required.
Whether a gross misdemeanor or felony, a 5th-degree drug crime conviction could also result in forfeiture of any property used to commit the crime. The potentially forfeited property includes cash, a car, and more.
What are Defenses for 5th Degree Drug Possession in MN?
If you have been charged with 5th-degree possession of controlled substances, you’ll want an experienced lawyer to defend you.
This drug charge may be dismissed or reduced with a strategic defense. Some common defenses for drug charges are:
- Illegal search or seizure — This happens if the police didn’t have probable cause to search your property. Evidence collected this way is inadmissible in court.
- Miranda rights violation — If you were not given a proper Miranda warning upon arrest, any statement you made afterward cannot be used against you.
- Challenging the proof of substance — The substance must be scientifically confirmed to be a controlled substance, but lab testing can sometimes be unreliable.
- Lack of intent — Prosecutors must prove that you had intent in the drug possession. It is not enough that you were present in the vicinity of the substance.
- Entrapment — It is illegal for law enforcement officers to encourage individuals to commit a drug crime in the hope of making an arrest.
Will a First-Time Offender Go to Jail for a 5th Degree Drug Possession?
First-time offenders can be sentenced to prison for possession of a 5th degree controlled substance in Minnesota. However, a competent defense attorney may be able to prevent this sentence by persuading the judge to place the defendant on probation.
Probation means the sentence is “stayed” or not implemented. Instead, other more lenient penalties are imposed, such as doing community service, completing a drug treatment program, paying court costs, and the like.
Probation for 5th-degree drug offenses in MN typically lasts up to five years.
Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Jeff Dean
Whether this is your first offense or subsequent drug case, and whether you are already charged or still being questioned, a reliable criminal defense attorney can help to ensure that you are protected.
One of Minnesota’s most trusted and active defense lawyers is Jeff Dean, who has been in legal service for over 26 years. He has obtained dismissals, Not Guilty verdicts, and overturned convictions for his clients.
Call Jeff Dean at (612) 305-4360 or send a message to get started.