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Cost of Hiring a Controlled Substance Defense Lawyer in Minnesota

How Much Does a Possession of Controlled Substance Lawyer Charge in Minnesota?

On average, Minnesota criminal defense lawyers charge between $150 and $450 per hour. The total cost for a defense varies based on the type of case, the amount of preparation needed, and how far into the legal process the case must wend.

For instance, possession of a controlled substance misdemeanor defense that ends in a quick plea bargain may take only a few hours of the attorney’s time. On the other hand, a major felony case that proceeds to trial may require weeks of preparation and a dozen court appearances so that the cost can go far into the five figures. The most complex cases requiring appeals and multiple trials may total hundreds of thousands.


However, most controlled substance possession cases end before trial. For example, the courts frequently dismiss these cases based on constitutional grounds, such as an illegal search or seizure. As a result, the litigation ends without the heavy cost of a trial.


Alternatively, once the defense lawyer reviews the discovery, he may find that the state’s case lacks enough evidence to merit a trial and convince the court to throw out the charges. In that case, the high cost of a trial is avoided.


But most criminal cases end in a plea bargain before trial, which also limits the overall cost.

Neglecting to Consult a Lawyer Before Making a Statement: The Biggest Mistake

Some individuals feel they can save on legal fees by not hiring a lawyer. They may believe themselves innocent and question why they need a lawyer. Instead of hiring counsel, they answer questions, hoping that after the interview, their legal problems will disappear.


Many innocent people end up in prison because they decided they could save the cost of a lawyer. Law enforcement personnel know how to build a case that is difficult to refute in court. They design their questions to make you feel you are helping yourself, but you are only helping them dig a hole for you.


For instance, suppose you were with a friend in that friend’s vehicle and suspected that person might have a controlled substance. Admitting this could result in facing serious charges. It’s a valid defense to claim you have no knowledge of the drugs. If you make the mistake of admitting you felt there could have been drugs, you damage any future defense greatly. 


In many cases, the prosecution and law enforcement could represent your statement as if you said you did know versus suspected. This places you in the difficult position of refuting the truth of their representation of your sentence while still admitting you thought drugs could be in the vehicle. 


Had you refused to speak without a lawyer, the attorney would prevent you from making incriminating statements. As a result, the state may need more evidence to charge you, or the case against you may fail.


Regarding legal fees, the best way to prevent yourself from needing to pay for a costly trial is to hire a lawyer right away, so he can go to work, preventing you from being charged or establishing grounds for early dismissal of the case. A small investment in a lawyer at the outset of your legal difficulties saves you money.


If you face possession of controlled substance charges, you face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the circumstances. This is another reason to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to inadvertently give law enforcement reasons to raise the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony or a lower-degree felony to a higher one.

Minnesota Misdemeanor Possession of a Controlled Substance Charges

Minnesota law allows possession of a controlled substance to be classified as a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony. The charge level hinges on the type and amount of the substance involved. 


Misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance involves small quantities of an illegal substance that is not considered particularly dangerous, such as marijuana.


For example, possessing 42.5 grams or less of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor in Minnesota unless the drug is contained in a concentrated form. Petty misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $300 and up to 90 days in jail.


Possession of more than this amount of marijuana can result in an increase from a petty misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor. 


Also, if you possess a controlled substance classified in Schedules I, II, III, or IV, but the amount is considered too small to be a felony, you may be charged with a gross misdemeanor. Gross misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.


However, it’s important to note that fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance is a wobbler. Wobblers can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors. For instance, if you have a small quantity of a Schedule IV substance but no criminal record, the state may opt to charge the offense as a gross misdemeanor. On the other hand, if you have a record of drug dealing, you can expect the prosecution to seek a felony conviction.

Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance in Minnesota

Minnesota law divides felony possession of controlled substance charges into five degrees, with the first being the most serious and the fifth the least. 

But note that any felony charge can land you in prison for a year or more, while the most serious felonies can result in decades behind bars.

First-degree Possession of a Controlled Substance

This crime occurs when an individual possesses a large amount of a controlled substance or a smaller amount of a dangerous drug, such as fentanyl. The threshold amounts vary depending on the substance. 


For example, possessing 50 grams or more of cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin is a first-degree felony,  while 25 kilograms or more of marijuana must be possessed to trigger this charge. 


Sentences for a first-degree conviction can include up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.

Second-Degree Possession of a Controlled Substance

This charge involves possessing a smaller quantity of a controlled substance than first-degree possession but still a quantity considered more than usual for personal use. For example, possessing 25 grams or more of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or 10 kilograms or more of marijuana triggers a second-degree possession charge. 


Sentences for a second-degree conviction can include up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.


Third-Degree Possession of a Controlled Substance

This crime occurs when an individual possesses a controlled substance in lesser quantities, such as 10 grams or more of a narcotic drug other than heroin or 5 kilograms or more of marijuana. 


Sentences for a third-degree conviction can include up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Fourth-Degree Possession of a Controlled Substance

A person commits this offense when possessing a controlled substance in smaller quantities than third-degree possession, such as ten doses of a hallucinogen or 50 kilograms of marijuana. 


Sentences for a fourth-degree conviction can include up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Fifth-Degree Possession of a Controlled Substance 

These least severe felony possession charges involve possessing any amount of a Schedule I, II, III, or IV controlled substance, except for a small amount of marijuana. 


Sentences for a fifth-degree conviction can include up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.


Fifth-degree felony possession of a controlled substance can also be charged as a misdemeanor.

Defenses Against Controlled Substance Possession Charges

Being charged with possession of a controlled substance and convicted are two different things. Surprisingly to many people, the presence of a controlled substance does not automatically mean the suspect is guilty. Many defenses convince judges to dispose of cases or persuade jurors that reasonable doubt exists.


Typical defenses against possession of a controlled substance charge include the following:

Unlawful Search and Seizure 

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution establishes this defense. For instance, if the police conducted an unlawful search or seizure, the evidence obtained during the search is inadmissible.  Its exclusion could result in the charges being dropped or reduced.


Lack Constructive Possession 

In some situations, the defendant can argue that he was not in actual or “constructive” possession of the controlled substance. Constructive possession occurs when an individual has control or dominion over the substance, even if it’s not physically on them. If the defense can show that the defendant had no actual or constructive possession, a court will dismiss the charges.


When law enforcement induces the defendant to commit a crime that they otherwise would not have committed, it is entrapment. Entrapment entitles the defendant to an acquittal.

Broken Chain of Custody

The defense can challenge the chain of custody of the evidence, arguing that it was tampered with, contaminated, or otherwise compromised. The prosecution bears the burden of proving the chain of custody. When it fails to do so, the court throws out the evidence, which can lead to the case failing.

Mistake of Fact

In some cases, the defendant has a strong defense in that he was unaware that the substance was controlled. Without knowing what the substance was, the defendant cannot have Mens Rea or a guilty mind. No intent = No crime.

Effective Counsel Saves Years In Prison

You need a vigorous defense when you face Minnesota possession of a controlled substance charge. You need one to avoid facing the maximum based on sentencing guidelines. But when you have effective counsel, you have an established defense. The prosecution must work hard to win a conviction and risk losing. As a result, you have a good chance of beating the case or receiving a lenient deal.


Criminal defense lawyers are not cheap, but they are worth every penny. The sooner you involve a lawyer, the less chance that the case will go to trial–or that charges will be filed. This is the best investment you can make in reducing the final monetary cost and keeping your freedom.


Gerald Miller, P.A. specializes in possession of controlled substance defenses. We are available 24/7 to provide immediate representation at the most critical time. Contact Gerald Miller, P.A. now.


Related Content: How to Get a Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree Charge Dismissed in Minnesota

About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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