A first-degree drug crime is a felony and the most serious level of offense in Minnesota. It encompasses various types of offenses including selling, possessing, and manufacturing controlled substances. Minnesota Statutes Section 152.021 imposes heavy penalties for this level of crime, with prison sentences going up to 40 years.
If you’re accused of or charged with a felony drug crime in MN, the consequences could immensely damage your life. Don’t hesitate to contact our experienced defense lawyer to protect your rights.
What Makes a 1st-Degree Controlled Substance Charge in Minnesota
1st-degree Drug Sale Charge
In Minnesota, “selling” can mean not just trading drugs for money but also bartering for other goods, offering to sell, or agreeing to sell. At this time, the mere talking about selling drugs may constitute a drug crime. Here’s what counts as a first-degree drug sale crime:
- Selling a mixture containing methamphetamine or cocaine, totaling 17 grams or more
- Selling a mixture containing methamphetamine or cocaine, totaling 10 grams or more, AND brandishing a gun or having two aggravating factors (see our section below on what aggravating factors are)
- Selling a mixture containing heroin, totaling 10 grams or more
- Selling a mixture containing any narcotics other than cocaine, meth, or heroin, totaling 50 grams or more
- Selling a mixture containing amphetamine, hallucinogen, or phencyclidine, totaling 50 grams or more (or at least 200 dosage units)
- Selling a mixture containing marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), totaling 25 kilograms or more.
1st-Degree Drug Possession Charge
“Drug possession” in Minnesota means either you have controlled substances in your person like in your pocket or bag, or you’re storing them somewhere like in your house or storage locker. This latter type is called constructive possession. Here’s what counts as a first-degree drug possession crime:
- Having a mixture containing methamphetamine or cocaine, totaling 50 grams or more
- Having a mixture containing methamphetamine or cocaine, totaling 25 grams or more, AND brandishing a gun or having two aggravating factors (see our section below on what aggravating factors are)
- Having a mixture containing heroin, totaling 25 grams or more
- Having a mixture containing narcotics other than cocaine, meth, or heroin, totaling 500 grams or more
- Having a mixture containing amphetamine, hallucinogen, or phencyclidine, totaling 500 grams or more (or at least 500 dosage units)
- Having a mixture containing marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), totaling 50 kilograms or more
- Having at least 500 marijuana plants.
1st-degree drug manufacturing crime
Minnesota law makes it a first-degree felony offense to manufacture any amount of methamphetamine.
Sentence/Jail Time for a 1st-Degree Drug Crime in Minnesota
A person convicted of any first-degree drug crime in MN could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million. If the person has a prior drug conviction, this sentence could go up to 40 years with a mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison.
Aggravating Factors in a 1st-Degree Drug Charge
In Minnesota, certain lower-level drug charges could rise to first degree if two aggravating factors are present. These are examples of aggravating factors:
- Engaging in the drug act for the benefit of a gang
- Having a violent crime conviction within the last 10 years
- The offense involves drug acts across three or more counties (for instance, selling narcotics to buyers in different counties, or storing marijuana in cross-county locations)
- Transferring the controlled substances across state or international borders
- Selling the controlled substances to a minor (person under 18 years old).
Defenses Against a 1st-Degree Drug Charge in MN
It’s crucial to speak with a defense attorney soon after you’re charged with or arrested for a first-degree drug crime. An experienced lawyer will employ a defense strategy that best suits your particular situation. Some defenses against a felony drug charge are:
- Illegal search or seizure – The police did not have probable cause to search or seize your property, thus the evidence they got cannot be used against you.
- Entrapment – Law enforcement agents deceived or coerced you into committing the drug offense.
- Suppression of evidence – If the authorities collected evidence in a way that violated your constitutional rights, that evidence cannot be used against you.
- Challenging ownership – Even if the substances were in your property, the prosecutor must still prove they were yours.
- Faulty identification – If the police improperly conducted a suspect line-up, or somehow encouraged a witness to identify you, a competent attorney could prevent the prosecution from identifying you in court.
- Miranda Rights violation – The arresting authorities did not properly read you your rights to remain silent and to have legal representation.
Contact Experienced Drug Defense Attorney Jeff Dean
Jeff Dean’s strong defense has resulted in numerous dismissals and Not Guilty verdicts – even in cases where the police found drugs in the client’s pocket. With 26+ years of experience, he is skilled at showing reasonable doubt about his clients’ guilt, thus preventing heavy criminal sentences. This is important when you’re facing a felony drug charge, as you’ll need strategic protection from Minnesota’s strict penalties.
Talk to Jeff Dean about your controlled substance charges. Call (612) 305-4360 today.