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Minneapolis Criminal Defense Attorney | Understanding Minnesota Drug Charges

The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting unexpected and unprecedented hardship for people around the world. Some experts say it’s been especially challenging for people who currently abuse drugs and for those struggling with sobriety and recovery. The anxiety and stress of the outbreak, including its vast short and long-term financial implications, has likely left some feeling the need to self-medicate in a desperate attempt to calm their nerves, numb their fears, or improve their moods. Some abuse alcohol, but others use one drug or a combination of many. Such drugs include marijuana, cocaine, meth, opioids, LSD, prescription painkillers, and more. 

It’s understandable, even if it’s unhealthy and unwise. What’s more, drug use and dealing has serious consequences in Minnesota and most states. If you encounter the police for whatever reason and they suspect you are using or in possession, you are looking at hefty fines and jail time in many cases. 

Minneapolis Drug Defense Attorney 

At the Minneapolis criminal law firm of Gerald Miller, P.A., we handle all aspects of criminal law, including drug charges ranging from misdemeanor to felony. If you’ve been arrested for drug possession in Minnesota, be assured that you will receive the best legal representation in the state by choosing one of our attorneys to represent you in court. 

Why choose the best Minnesota drug crimes attorneys instead of settling for the cheapest? Because drug charges can be the most difficult to overcome. If you have been accused of using or dealing cocaine, heroin, opioids, marijuana, or other illegal drug. Don’t go at it alone, and don’t let a one-size-fits all attorney handle your case. It’s too important to your life and your future. 

What Are the Different Schedules of Drugs? 

According to the United State Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, substances and different chemicals used to make illegal drugs are classified into five categories, commonly referred to by authorities as “schedules.” The different schedules vary depending on the drug’s ability to be used for medical purposes as well as it’s propensity for dependence and addiction. The level of criminal charge, whether it’s on the federal or state level, often is based on the drug’s schedule. 

Like federal authorities, each state, including Minnesota, has its own method of classifying schedules. The higher the schedule number, the less dangerous the drugs are considered. In other words, Schedule V is far less serious than Schedule I. Schedule 5 drugs are often considered useful in a medical setting. Buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction as well as acute and chronic pain, is classified as Schedule V. Drugs with lower numbers have little to no medical usefulness and are associated with higher rates of addiction and abuse. Fentanyl and heroin are both Schedule I substances. Codeine and morphine are both Schedule II substances.

If you are facing drug charges no matter what the drug or drugs are scheduled, call the Minneapolis criminal law office of Gerald Miller, P.A. Our team is ready to answer your questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your first consultation is free. Call 612-341-9079 or fill out our confidential contact form here. You also can visit our home page and reach out via our live chat. 

Drug Schedules and Examples 

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, marijuana (cannabis), ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote. 

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs include vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, Dilaudid, Demerol, oxycodone, fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin. 

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs include Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone. 

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs include Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, and Tramadol. 

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs include Robitussin AC, Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin. 

Penalties for Drug Convictions – Possession and Sale  

The punishments for drug crimes in Minnesota are based on the type of drug, its schedule, and whether the defendant was using the drug, possessing it, or trying to sell or deal it to others. The charges range from first to fifth degree. Like with scheduling, the higher the number, the less serious, so the lower the penalty, under state statute. First-degree drug crimes are the harshest, and include both possession and sale. 

First-Degree:  Up to 30 years in prison and/ or fines up to $1 million. Prior drug convictions mean a minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years. Aggravating factors and larger quantities of drugs are likely to increase the level of punishment if convicted. 

Second-Degree: Up to 25 years in prison and/ or up to $500,000 in fines. Previous convictions, especially felony convictions, and aggravating factors can mean longer and mandatory minimum prison sentences. 

Third-Degree: Up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

Fourth-Degree: Up to 15 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

Fifth-Degree: Up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Minnesota drug laws define “sell” in the context of the crimes involving the sale or distribution of controlled substances or drugs, in ways that do not necessarily coincide with the common meanings of the term. In this context, the term “sell” is defined as:

  • Selling, giving away, bartering, delivering, exchanging, distributing, or disposing of to another person, or to manufacture;
  • Offering or agreeing to perform an act listed above; or
  • Possessing with the intent to perform an act listed above.

What Does it Mean to Sell Drugs in Minnesota?

This broad definition of “sell” or “sale” includes many acts that are not typically considered an ordinary sale. For example, Minnesota courts have held that shared possession of drugs is not a sale or drug transaction. However, exchanging sex for drugs may be considered a sale. When it comes down to it, how the courts interpret “sell” or “sale” depends on the current wording of the statute. An experienced Minnesota Drug Crimes Attorney can help you determine whether your drug charge can be considered a sale or drug transaction under current Minnesota law.

What Does it Mean to be in Possession of Drugs in Minnesota?

Unlike the term “sell,” the term “possession” is not defined by Minnesota law. However, Minnesota courts have adopted a plain, ordinary definition of the term “possession.” Possession can be shared, constructive, or actual (under one’s control). The State prosecutors must be able to prove that a person consciously possessed drugs, either physically or constructively, and that the person had actual knowledge or belief that the substance was an illegal drug or prohibited substance. The person need not know the specific identity of the substance, but must know that it is an illegal substance.

Facing a Drug Possession or Sale Charge? You Need an Advocate on Your Side to Fight for Your Rights 

Drug arrests and subsequent criminal charges are frightening and serious. Addiction and abuse of drugs adds to the problems you are facing. We know you never planned to use drugs or become dependent on them. Our team also understands that you likely never planned to sell them to make ends meet. But sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures – we get that. And our attorneys are here to help you and be your voice in a legal system that assumes the worst about people. Let’s talk. 

About Gerald Miller, P.A.

Were you or someone you love arrested for domestic assault, DWI or another crime during the COVID-19 lockdown? The process can be worrisome – or even frightening. There is a lot of legal jargon to weave through and court dates to attend.

You’re not alone. We can help, whether it’s your first domestic assault arrest  or if you’ve been convicted in the past. If you are facing a Minnesota criminal conviction, the experienced Minneapolis defense attorneys at Gerald Miller, P.A. will review your case and determine the best course of action. We will guide you through the process, working toward a positive outcome no matter the circumstances of the arrest. Our firm has a high success rate. We’ve fought cases all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. We dig into every aspect of the case, from the time of the arrest the officer’s actions to the accuracy of their alleged evidence.

What makes Gerald Miller different from other Minnesota criminal defense lawyers?

The Minneapolis lawyers at Gerald Miller handle all aspects of criminal law across the Twin Cities and statewide, but we have focused on criminal defense for nearly 40 years. A domestic assault charge can affect your living situation, your finances, and your professional reputation. Don’t let one incident negatively impact your future. 

We have earned dozens of positive Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews from satisfied clients. Our firm is widely recognized throughout the Twin Cities for our professionalism, compassion, knowledge, and dedication both in and out of the courtroom. The Minneapolis defense attorneys at Gerald Miller Law Firm are respected by our peers, colleagues, judges, and prosecutors. We have earned national awards and accolades from the American Bar Association, The National Trial Lawyers, the American Institute of DWI/DUI Attorneys, the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the National Academy for DUI Defense, and more. 

Gerald Miller, P.A. also has received the elite “SuperLawyer” distinction by Thomson Reuters. 

Legal Counsel is Critical to Success

The sooner you contact us, the faster we can start protecting your rights.  Even if your case cannot be dismissed, the charges may be reduced and punishment can be minimized, which are positive outcomes as well. There are a number of details in each person’s case that could have a huge impact on the possible outcome. It also helps if you were cooperative at the time of your arrest.

Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation at 612-440-4610. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to give you some answers, a little hope, and plenty of well-deserved peace of mind. Visit www.geraldmillerlawyer.com or check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We’re here to help. 

About the author

Brodie Hacken

Brodie is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Minnesota with 15 years of experience. He is passionate about protecting the rights of his clients and ensuring they receive the best possible representation. When he's not in the courtroom, Brodie enjoys spending time with his family and playing golf.

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