Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Minnesota Fifth Degree Possession of Drugs (Explained)

As an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I often get questions about controlled substance cases.  The most common are about 5th Degree Possession of drugs an the penalties one might expect. 

Fifth degree possession of drugs is the least severe felony drug possession crime in Minnesota. It carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine. The court can convict you of this offense - not only by possessing controlled substances, but also by obtaining or attempting to obtain them using fraud or deceptive means, such as claiming to be a medical provider or using forged prescription documents.

How to Defend Yourself

The defenses for this charge vary from case to case --- common ways include:

Illegal Search: the first area to look at is whether the police obtained the drugs lawfully. In many cases, a Fourth Amendment or Fifth Amendment challenge could be brought arguing that the police violated the defendant’s constitutional rights and that the drug evidence should be suppressed.

Legal Possession: another area to look at is whether the defendant could legally possess the substance. It is not uncommon for a police officer to charge someone with a drug crime if they do not have evidence of a prescription available. However, if a prescription can be produced, it will likely result in a dismissal of the case.

Entrapment: In cases involving a controlled buy, there may be an argument that the police conduct induced you to purchase the controlled substances. However, the elements can be difficult to show and are heavily fact-specific. A criminal defense lawyer can advise whether this defense may apply.

Stay of Adjudication and Diversion

A program available for most first-time defendants charged with fifth-degree possession is to enter a treatment program and either have the matter diverted or receive a stay of adjudication. Diversion or a stay of adjudication can prevent a conviction from appearing on your criminal record if you comply with all requirements. This allows for an opportunity to avoid the many negative collateral consequences of having a felony drug conviction.  You can also ask - at a later date - to have your charges/case sealed/expunged.

If you are facing a drug charge in the State of Minnesota, I suggest that you strongly consider contacting an attorney. Call the Rolloff Law Office today to set up a FREE CONSULTATION: (612) 234-1165

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