Both state and federal law prohibit the sale, use, or transfer of controlled substances in Minnesota. However, most drug offenses involve arrests during traffic stops or follow the execution of a search warrant in a person’s home. So can you get in trouble if someone mails you drugs in MN?
It should not surprise you to know that the answer to this question is “yes.” If you are in possession of controlled substances that were mailed to you, the possibility exists that you could be charged with a crime. It is also worth noting that there are exceptions that could apply that might protect you from prosecution.
If you have been arrested on a drug charge, it is vital that you pursue legal counsel as soon as possible. If your possession of illegal drugs occurred as the result of a mistake or misunderstanding, you might have a valid defense. Let the attorneys of Gerald Miller help you defend yourself against these serious charges. Call for a private consultation right away.
There Are Limits on Criminal Charges Related to Mail-Related Drug Offenses in Minneapolis
For the most part, someone receiving illegal drugs in the mail is in violation of a variety of state and federal laws. That said, it is important to note that the police discovering drugs in your mailbox might not be enough evidence to secure a conviction for possession of a controlled substance.
Consider the laws of the State of Minnesota. While “drug possession” is a criminal offense punishable with jail time and fines, the mere possession of what turns out to be a controlled substance is not itself a crime. First, the state must show that you possessed—either physically or constructively—a controlled substance.
Physical possession involves having actual possession of an item. This could include holding it in your hand or carrying it in your pocket. Constructive possession can be more difficult to prove. If you have a controlled substance locked in your room where only you have control over it, you could be in constructive possession of it. That is the case even if you are not present at the time the police find the substance.
In addition to physical control, there is also an element of intent that goes into these charges. This is especially important involving a case of receiving a controlled substance in the mail. In order for the state to obtain a conviction under this scenario, they must show that a defendant both knew they were in possession of the substance and knew of its illegal nature.
For example, if a defendant was unaware that they had even received a package much less known it contained illegal drugs, they could have a viable defense. The same is true if a person receives a package without any knowledge of what is inside. While this might seem farfetched, there have been instances where controlled substances were sent through the mail and delivered to the wrong party.
Making the Case for Intent
The unfortunate reality is the police might not be willing to take your word for it even if you had no knowledge of the controlled substance being mailed to you. In these cases, it is impossible for a prosecutor to be certain what your motives or intentions were at the time. This could lead the police to pursue drug charges based on a genuine misunderstanding.
In these cases, the police typically rely on inferences to determine if you had knowledge of the substance being mailed to you. For example, it could be evidence of your knowledge if the package was addressed directly to you.
One of the ways your attorney could fight back in these cases is by arguing that you were entirely unaware of the nature of the package you received in the mail. If you were unaware that it was an illegal substance, you could be acquitted of a possession charge.
Can The Police Search My Mail?
When it comes to criminal charges stemming from drugs traveling through the mail, most arrests occur when the police open a package and seize its contents. That said, the police do not have free reign to open your mail and test its contents.
You are protected by the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which bars the police from making unlawful searches or seizures. If your mail was seized and searched unlawfully, your attorney could help you have any evidence recovered excluded from your criminal trial.
Obtaining a Warrant in Minneapolis
The simplest way for the police to legally gain access to your mail is by obtaining a warrant. While the police cannot unilaterally search your mail on their own, they do have the ability to seek permission from a court of law.
A judge will not issue a warrant allowing the police to open your mail without probable cause. In other words, the police must have some type of evidence suggesting they will find evidence pointing to unlawful activity if they open your mail.
Obtaining probable cause to search your mail might be more challenging than you might think. There have been federal court decisions that hold it is not enough for police to know a citizen accepted a package that contained a controlled substance to meet the requirements of probable cause. Often, there must be other evidence before a judge will issue a warrant. These warrants apply to the mail at any point before they arrive in your hands, even when it is left unattended in your mailbox.
Searching your Trash
As unlikely as it might sound, the police could find evidence that you received a controlled substance through the mail by going through your trash. When you leave trash out to be picked up, the contents are no longer considered to be private. In that instance even the mail or opened envelopes that you throw away could be fair game for police.
If there is any evidence of a controlled substance in that trash, the police might be able to use it against you. What’s more, anything that suggests you could be in possession of drugs that were mailed to you could be enough for the police to obtain a warrant to search your house. With a search warrant in hand, law enforcement could turn your home upside down looking for signs of contraband.
What Should I Do After a Drug Arrest in Minneapolis?
The steps you take following an arrest on drug-related charges in Minnesota are important, and they can have a tremendous impact on your future. The things you say and do could increase or decrease the chances of a conviction, so you should choose your words carefully.
One of the most important things you can do following a drug arrest is to avoid any discussion with the police whatsoever. While you are obligated to provide your name when asked, you never have to discuss the specifics of your case with investigators.
By far the most important step you can take in the aftermath of a drug arrest is to talk to an attorney. Whether you were arrested due to having drugs mailed to you or the substance was found in your possession in some other way, an attorney could play an invaluable role in your defense.
When it comes to mail-related drug arrests, your attorney might be able to help you have your charges dismissed early in the process. If your arrest stemmed from a misunderstanding, your attorney might be able to show the police and prosecutor that you have done nothing wrong. In either case, your choice of an attorney is the most important step you will take following a drug arrest.
Contact the Attorneys of Gerald Miller Right Away in Minneapolis
If you have been arrested for a drug charge in Minnesota, the attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to help. Our team has built our practice on fighting for the accused. No matter the specifics of your arrest, we have the experience and skill that could help you obtain a fair outcome in your case. If you are ready to work toward a favorable outcome in your drug case, contact us as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation.