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How Long Do Police Have to File Drug Charges in Minnesota?

The police do not have an unlimited window of time to file criminal charges in most cases. The police must file drug charges in Minnesota within three years of the day the offense occurred. If they wait too long, they could lose out on their opportunity to bring a criminal charge at all.

There are different reasons why the police might wait to file a drug charge. In some cases, it could take time for an investigation to identify a potential suspect. In other cases, a drug charge might be part of a larger ongoing criminal investigation. In either situation, the police can only delay criminal charges for so long.

If you have been arrested on a drug charge, you have the right to seek out a drug defense attorney. If the police have waited to long to file charges against you, your attorney could help you secure a dismissal. Reach out to the attorneys of Gerald Miller today to discuss your defense options.


What is the Criminal Statute of Limitations for a Drug Charges in Minnesota?

States commonly use a period of limitations when it comes to filing civil as well as criminal charges. Minnesota is no exception, as the state includes a criminal statute of limitations that applies to every offense. Of course, the amount of time the police have to file a criminal charge varies depending on the offense.

There are five different periods of time that could serve as the statutory period in a criminal case. According to the law, these periods cover a variety of specific criminal charges. The statutory periods under Minnesota criminal law include:

  • Three years. The most common statute of limitations for criminal offenses in Minnesota is three years. The three year statute of limitations applies to all misdemeanors as well as felonies that are not listed in the other examples.
  • Five years. There are only a handful of criminal offenses that use the five-year statute of limitations in Minnesota, and most of these charges involve theft. Any theft offense where the stolen value is greater than $35,000 qualifies for a five-year statute of limitations. Arson also falls in this category.
  • Six years. There are a small number of very specific crimes that come with a six-year statutory period. These crimes include bank robbery and medical assistance fraud.
  • Nine years. Some of the most serious criminal offenses have a nine-year statute of limitations. These include a variety of sex offenses.
  • No limit. For the most serious offenses, there is no statute of limitations. The state always has the opportunity to pursue these charges regardless of how much time has passed. Murder and certain human trafficking charges do not have a statute of limitations.

The statutes do not specifically mention drug crimes in any way. However, there is a catch-all section of the law that applies to any offense that is not specifically listed by the statute. This time period is three years. What’s more, the three-year statute of limitations also applies to any misdemeanor drug possession cases, making the three-year period apply to every drug-related offense.


Why is There a Statute of Limitations in Minnesota?

Ultimately, the criminal statute of limitations exists to protect average citizens from unfair prosecution. There are a number of ways that allowing the state to pursue criminal charges—even for relatively minor crimes—at any point in the future could be abused. The statute of limitations requires the state to get its case moving in a reasonable manner.

If the state has a viable case against you, they should pursue it in a diligent manner. The statute of limitations penalizes the state of they fail to do so. The major reason the statute of limitations is necessary is because lengthy delays could make it difficult for a defendant to investigate the allegations against them. The witnesses or evidence a defendant needs to fight back against these criminal charges could disappear over time, making delays often work against the accused in unfair ways.


Tolling the Statute of Limitations

It is possible in some cases for the state to toll—or pause—the statute of limitations. In other words, prosecutors could still move forward with a drug case against you after the three-year window expires in some cases. The state’s ability to toll the statute of limitations is limited.

Generally, tolling the statute of limitations on a drug case is only an option when the accused flees the state before their arrest. If the defendant has fled the state or is not a resident of Minnesota to begin with, the prosecutor could seek to have the statutory period to bring charges extended. This is to ensure a person accused of a crime does not benefit from leaving the state and avoiding prosecution.

It is also possible to toll the statute of limitations in cases where the defendant is taking part in a pretrial diversion program. For as long as they are part of such a program, the statute of limitations remains tolled.

It is not uncommon for the state to push its luck on tolling the statute of limitations. A prosecutor could pursue a prosecution knowing the statute has already expired, only to argue that the statute was tolled for a time when the accused was out of state. Because it is not always easy to track a person’s movements, the state could seek to toll the statute during a period where the defendant was in Minnesota and easy to find.

Issues regarding the statute of limitations are too important to leave to chance. If you have been charged with a drug crime following a long delay, it is vital that you put your case in the hands of experienced criminal defense attorneys. The attorneys of Gerald Miller are prepared to review your case and determine if the statute of limitations expired prior to the police filing charges against you.


An Attorney Could Pursue Dismissal If Police Delay Your Charges in Minnesota

The violation of the statute of limitations is an absolute defense to a criminal charge in Minnesota. If the police wait to long to file a drug charges in Minnesota  against you, the violation of the statute could be your best option for avoiding a conviction.

The consequences of a violation of the statute of limitations are clear. If your attorney can show that the state filed the charges against you after the statutory period has expired, they could have your case dismissed forever.

With a defense this strong, your attorney will not have to wait until your trial to raise it. A violation of the statute of limitations is grounds for immediate dismissal, and it could result in the end of your case before you ever have to go in front of a jury.

Your attorney could file a motion to dismiss based entirely on the violation of the statute of limitations. This could occur at any point in your case, but your defense attorney is likely to raise it right away. Dismissing your case earlier in the process could reduce the stress and worry you face with pending criminal charges hanging over your head.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller understand how criminal charges could impact your case. We have experience evaluating the statute of limitations and could determine if it has expired in your case. Reach out today for guidance on how to defend your rights.


Talk to Gerald Miller About Your Drug Charges in Minnesota

You should never accept a plea bargain on a drug case without first talking to lawyer. This is especially true in cases where there was a substantial delay between your alleged drug offense and the formal filing of charges against you. If enough time has passed, you could be entitled to a dismissal of all charges.

Pursuing a strong defense strategy includes investigating your case and determining if the state complied with the statute of limitations. If they failed to do so, you could be entitled to a dismissal of all charges.

Let the attorneys of Gerald Miller evaluate your case and help you determine if the statute of limitations was violated. Our team is prepared to help you navigate the judicial system and hold the state to the highest standard. Call right away for your free consultation.



About the author

Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger is a skilled DUI/DWI and Criminal Defense lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. Kyle has received his law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He is also a professionally trained basketball player.

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