What Happens When You Get Charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance in Minnesota?
Facing charges of possession of a controlled substance in Minnesota can be one of the most difficult moments of your life. Depending on the circumstances, this arrest could lead to serious consequences like prison or fines. It is understandable to be concerned about the possibility of facing this outcome.
The steps that follow an arrest for drug possession can be confusing. You could face numerous court appearances and could be required to remain in jail until the date of your trial. Understanding the court process could help you prepare for what to expect.
The most important thing you can do following a drug crimes arrest is sought out legal counsel. The attorneys of Gerald Miller have a track record of success when it comes to defending drug possession allegations. Reach out to us today to get started on your defense.
What Happens Depends on the Charges You Face
To understand what comes next in a drug possession case, it is necessary to recognize the type of drug offense you have been charged with. There are several drug offenses under state law, and the penalties that come with each can vary dramatically. Some crimes are treated as misdemeanors that could result in little to no jail time. Others are serious felonies that could put you behind bars for the rest of your life.
- Aggravated First-Degree Possession. The highest-level possession offense. This offense covers the possession of not only large amounts of controlled substances but also the use of firearms or other aggravating factors.
- First-Degree Possession. This drug offense carries the steepest penalty of any charge that is related solely to the possession of narcotics. The only higher offense is aggravated first-degree possession, which includes non-drug factors.
- Second-Degree Possession. Second-degree possession applies to the next-highest amounts of controlled substances. For example, this offense is appropriate for between 25 and 50 grams of cocaine or methamphetamine.
- Third-Degree Possession. This offense applies to lower levels of possession of specific drugs, including LSD.
- Fourth-Degree Possession. This offense involves one of two things. First, is the possession of a large number of hallucinogens. Second, possession with the intent to sell schedule I, II, or III controlled substances.
- Fifth-Degree Possession. Fifth-degree possession is the lowest level of felony drug possession under the law. It involves possession of small amounts of schedule I, II, II, or IV substances.
- Misdemeanor Possession. Drug possession is usually treated as a felony. However, misdemeanor charges are appropriate for small amounts of marijuana or the possession of synthetic cannabinoids under the age of 18.
What to Expect with a Drug Charge
There are a number of things that could occur following an arrest for possession of a controlled substance. This process begins with an arrest, but it can come to an end in a variety of ways. Understanding each step of the process could provide you with some peace of mind as you navigate the justice system.
You Could be Held in Jail
If you are arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance, you can expect to face jail time. Usually, these arrests occur when an officer finds a controlled substance on your person. For that reason, most people are arrested and charged at the same time.
How long you stay in jail will depend on the circumstances. If you are facing a misdemeanor drug charge for possessing small amounts of marijuana or synthetic cannabis, you could be released on your own recognizance. If you are facing steeper penalties, you can count on remaining in jail until you are arraigned.
You Will Be Arraigned in Front of a Judge
The first step in the criminal process is called an arraignment. If you are not offered the chance to get out of jail immediately after your arrest, the arraignment hearing is your first chance to secure bail. Additionally, you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty in your criminal case.
You have the right to an attorney during every phase of the criminal process, and that includes during the arraignment. If you have already been released from jail pending trial, your attorney could possibly waive the hearing entirely.
There Could Be Additional Hearings in your Case
The arraignment is only the first hearing in your case. It is not uncommon for there to be numerous hearings, especially if your case takes time to resolve. One of the major benefits of hiring an attorney is that they can appear on your behalf at hearings where you are not required to testify. These hearings could be set to provide the judge with status updates. Other hearings could be more important, and involve motions to have your charges dismissed.
Your Case Could Take Time
There is no way to predict how long your criminal trial might take. If you ultimately reach a plea agreement in your case, it could be resolved in a few short months. If your case goes to trial, it could take more than a year before you go in front of a jury of your peers.
You have the right to a speedy trial. In fact, if the state fails to bring your case to trial in a reasonable amount of time, your charges could be dismissed forever. However, many of the delays that occur in these cases will not count against the time the state has to bring your case. Your attorney could ensure your speedy trial rights are protected by avoiding unneeded delays in your case.
You Could Face Serious Penalties Upon a Conviction
There are steep penalties that can come with a conviction for possession of a controlled substance. These penalties largely depend on the specific offense you have been charged with. For example, misdemeanor possession will lead to no more than a year in jail. The penalties for felony cases are much higher. If you are convicted of aggravated first-degree controlled substance possession, you could spend up to 40 years in prison and face a fine of up to $1 million.
Your Arrest Does Not Have to End in a Conviction
It is worth noting that one of the things that can happen following a drug possession arrest is that you beat the charges against you. There is no guarantee that you will be convicted, especially if you build an aggressive strategy to prevail in your case. Some of these strategies could include:
- Lack of Evidence. One of the strongest defenses available involves highlighting the lack of evidence against you. If the state’s case is not strong, it could be in your best interest to avoid other defenses and point to their lack of evidence. Remember: it is the state’s obligation to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Constitutional Violations. If your rights are violated during the course of a criminal investigation, it could have a major impact on the outcome of your case. When the police make an unlawful search or seizure, any evidence they collect could be barred from being used at your trial. This defense could also be used if you are interrogated without being read your Miranda rights.
- Lack of Knowledge. In order to be guilty of possessing a controlled substance, you must be aware that the substance is in your possession. In cases where a person is unaware of what they possess, a conviction would be improper.
- Mistaken Identity. Some possession cases are built on a mistake. If the police mistakenly identify you as a party to a drug transaction, that error could haunt you. Your attorney could work to establish that the police brought charges against the wrong person.
Talk to the Attorneys of Gerald Miller Right Away
There are a lot of things to consider in the aftermath of a drug possession arrest. If you are unsure of how to proceed, you could benefit from discussing your options with an attorney. A drug arrest never guarantees a conviction.
When you fight back against your drug charges, you have a chance to avoid a conviction. This could be through dismissal or even an acquittal at trial. The attorneys of Gerald Miller know how to pursue a successful result in these cases. Reach out as soon as possible for a free consultation with our firm.
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