For many years, criminal charges for illegal possession of drugs were almost always felonies. The main exception was possession of a small amount of marijuana, which was not a felony. But possession of more than a small amount of marijuana and possession of any amount of illegal street drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin carried felony consequences. Charges for possession of prescription medication without a valid prescription and other illegal drugs also carried felony penalties. If you are wondering how to handle drug charges in Minnesota, I can help.
Minnesota Laws Changed in 2016
Effective August 1, 2016, Minnesota laws regarding illegal possession of drugs changed significantly. The laws controlling possession and sale of controlled substances are in Minnesota Statute Chapter 152. Under current law, a person with no prior drug convictions can often avoid severe felony consequences for possession of small amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and prescription drugs without a valid prescription. First time drug possession can be charged as a gross misdemeanor if the amount of drugs involved is very small. But charges for possession of larger amounts of illegal drugs are still felonies.
First-Time Offenders Could Avoid Being Convicted
In many cases, a person charged with illegal drug possession may be eligible for a stay of adjudication under Minn. Stat. 152.18, and thereby avoid being convicted of anything. Under a stay of adjudication, the court can defer prosecution for certain first time drug offenders and not enter a conviction for anything. A person who gets that result could honestly assert that he was not convicted of a criminal offense. The long-term benefit of being able to walk away from a felony drug possession charge without a conviction for any criminal offense is huge. It doesn’t take much in our digital world for an employer, landlord, eligibility screener or any other background check to find a felony or gross misdemeanor conviction. That’s why it can be so important to resolve a felony or gross misdemeanor case without a criminal conviction.
In many cases, a person charged with illegal drug possession may be eligible for a stay of adjudication and avoid being convicted of anything.
In many cases defending a drug possession charge involves careful scrutiny of how the evidence was seized. Many drug cases involve search warrants and confidential informants. Other times incidental police contact like a traffic stop results in a search of someone’s vehicle, purse, backpack or pockets. Everyone has the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, so police officers must follow the law themselves when they search for evidence. When law enforcement does not properly follow the law, the court may decide that the seizure of drugs was illegal. When the court throws out illegally seized evidence, charges are often dismissed.
How to Handle Drug Charges in Minnesota
If you or someone you know needs advice about how to handle a controlled substance offense or any other drug charge, please contact me to get you the help you need. I understand how serious charges for possession or sale of controlled substances affect people. I can help. If you make the decision to work with me I will take good care of you and be with you every step of the way.