How to get a Second-Degree Possession of a Controlled Substance Charge Dismissed in Minnesota
Second-degree possession of a controlled substance is a major criminal offense in Minnesota. If you are currently facing a controlled substance charge, a conviction could result in serious legal jeopardy for you. Lengthy jail time and steep monetary fines could upend your life if you are found guilty.
Worrying about the possibility of a conviction is understandable. Thankfully, your conviction is never guaranteed. You have the right to fight these charges, and these efforts could result in the dismissal of the charges against you.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller are here to help you fight back. Our firm has extensive experience advocating for the accused, and we understand what it takes to beat drug charges. Reach out right away to discuss your options during a free consultation.
What is Second-Degree Possession of a Controlled Substance?
There are few criminal charges that are more serious than second-degree possession of a controlled substance. According to Minnesota law, this is the second-most serious drug offense available to prosecutors. A conviction for this felony could result in a lengthy prison sentence that alters the shape of your life forever.
Second-degree drug possession is governed by Minnesota Statute Section 152.022. According to the statute, second-degree possession is based on type and amount of a controlled substance you are accused of possessing. Specifically, this felony charge is brought against an individual when:
- the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of 25 grams or more containing cocaine or methamphetamine;
- the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of ten grams or more containing cocaine or methamphetamine and:
- the person or an accomplice possesses on their person or within immediate reach, or uses, whether by brandishing, displaying, threatening with, or otherwise employing, a firearm; or
- the offense involves three aggravating factors;
- the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of six grams or more containing heroin;
- the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of 50 grams or more containing a narcotic drug other than cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine;
- the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of 50 grams or more containing amphetamine, phencyclidine, or hallucinogen or, if the controlled substance is packaged in dosage units, equaling 100 or more dosage units; or
- the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of 25 kilograms or more containing marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols, or possesses 100 or more marijuana plants.
The penalties associated with controlled substance charge are steep. If you are convicted, you could be facing as much as 25 years in prison. This includes a minimum sentence of three years if you have previously been convicted of a drug offense. There is also a maximum fine of up to $500,000. Given the steep penalties, it is clear why pursuing the dismissal of these charges is so important.
The Power to Dismiss Your Case
Before you or your attorney can have your case dismissed, it is helpful to understand who has the power to drop these charges. Dismissal is a best-case scenario for most people facing these charges, so understanding which party has this power is important.
You might be surprised to learn that the police do not have the power to drop your charges once they have been filed. Even though they are empowered to make an arrest for possession of a controlled substance, they do not have the ability the dismiss or alter those charges later.
The right to dismiss the case against you primarily falls to the prosecutor. They have the decision to file charges, amend them, or dismiss them. A dismissal could be temporary, or it could occur when the state intends to never bring these charges again.
Prosecutors have the power to dismiss your case, but they might not have the inclination. Most prosecutors aggressively pursue drug cases, especially when they believe the evidence is strong. Our attorneys could help make the case that dismissal is appropriate when dealing with the prosecution.
Finally, the judge in your case also has the power to dismiss it. While they have this power, it is uncommon for a judge to dismiss a case on their own. Instead, they hear motions to dismiss filed by the defense during the course of the case. Our firm could pursue one of these motions depending on your defense strategy and the facts.
Choosing the Right Defense
Judges and prosecutors will not dismiss your second-degree drug possession charge out of compassion or indifference. In order for you to have your charges dismissed, it is necessary to build a strong defense. Your defense must be strong enough to convince the prosecution that moving forward is not worth the effort or convince the judge that the law requires dismissal.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller could review your case and identify the appropriate defense strategy in your case. While there are many possible options, not all of them will be appropriate in each case. Choosing the right defense strategy is a vital part of your case. Some common defense strategies include:
Unlawful Search or Seizure
The police cannot search or seizure your property on a whim. You are protected by the U.S. Constitution, which limits the situations where the government can seize your property. If the police pull you over while driving or search your home without a valid reason, it could dramatically impact your case.
Typically, the police need a search warrant or exigent circumstances to search your home. They also need to have reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime before they can pull you over while driving.
Any violation of your rights could serve as the basis for your defense thanks to a legal concept known as the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Under this concept, any evidence procured through legal means cannot be used against you at trial. A motion to exclude this evidence could gut the state’s case against you.
Lack of Evidence
The state has the burden of proof in your case. This is important, as it means you do not have to prove anything to avoid a conviction. Instead, the state must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the second-degree controlled substance charge.
There are times when the best possible defense involves highlighting the weakness of the state’s case. Instead of trying to prove your innocence, this defense focuses on showing a jury that the state cannot meet its burden of proof.
Lack of Knowledge
Possession is a crime of intent. That means there are times when possessing a controlled substance might not result in a criminal conviction. This is true even if there is no question that you were in possession of a controlled substance that meets the standard for second-degree possession of a controlled substance charge. That is because your possession must be known in order for a crime to have occurred.
Consider the following example. You borrow a suitcase from a family friend prior to a vacation. What you don’t realize is that there is a substantial quantity of drugs hidden in a pocket at the bottom of the suitcase. You are pulled over by the police and consent to a search, where they discover the drugs in the suitcase. Because you were not aware of their presence, you are not guilty of the crime of possession.
Unfortunately, the police do not always know that you are telling the truth. You could face an arrest for possession in this situation even though haven’t done anything wrong. It is the role of your attorney to fight back against a conviction.
Call Gerald Miller to Discuss Your Second-Degree Possession Charge
You have the right to a strong defense following an arrest for second-degree possession of a controlled substance. Part of a strong defense is aggressively seeking for the dismissal of the controlled substance charge against you. Even if those efforts are not successful, the strategy you develop could be enough to prevail at trial.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to help you build the strongest defense strategy possible. Reach out as soon as possible for your free consultation.
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