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What Happens When You Get Charged with Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree in Minnesota

Third-degree sale of a controlled substance is the least-severe criminal charge related to the sale of drugs under state law. Of course, that does not mean the consequences in these cases are low. If found guilty of a felony drug crime, you could spend years in prison and face collateral consequences that follow you for the rest of your life. If you have been charged with the sale of a controlled substance in the third degree in Minnesota, it is understandable for you to wonder what happens next.

There are numerous things that could happen in your case, and each of them could impact the potential outcome.

The good news is that you do not have to face these challenges on your own. The attorneys of Gerald Miller are here to help you defend yourself from these serious allegations. Reach out to our firm right away to learn how a drug crimes lawyer could help.

The Steps in a Drug Sale Case

The facts of your case are unique, and the same is true for what you will experience in the criminal justice system. That said, there are common steps that every person facing a drug offense will face throughout the process. This similar process begins with an arrest, but it can end at various different points. If you are charged with a drug crime, the attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to walk you through all of these steps while ensuring your rights are protected.

Arrest

An arrest in a third degree sale of a controlled substance case can happen in a number of ways. Some drug arrests result from a traffic stop—often in a case of an officer being at the right place at the right time. Other drug arrests only occur after months or years of surveillance and investigation. Ultimately, the manner in which you are arrested will have a limited impact on the other stages of your case.

Arraignment

The first court appearance in a third-degree sale of a controlled substance case is always arraignment. Your arraignment serves more than one important purpose. First and foremost, it could be your first opportunity to secure your release from jail pending trial. At this hearing, the judge will set your bail amount which could allow for your immediate release.

The arraignment serves another important purpose. It is also your chance to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Pleading guilty at arraignment is never in your best interest, as the judge will immediately sentence you without any plea bargain in place. Pleading not guilty buys you more time to build a potential defense.

Other Hearings

Your arraignment is not the last hearing that will occur in your case. In fact, there could be numerous hearings as your case makes its way through the judicial system. Some of these hearings will serve as little more than status updates to keep the judge apprised of what is happening. Other hearings might require your participation, including motions to dismiss or disputes over discovery. Often, your attendance will not be necessary as long as you have an attorney to represent you.

Trial

Along the way, your case could come to an end at a variety of points. If a motion to dismiss your case is successful, it will conclude following a hearing where the motion is heard. If you plead guilty, your case will also come to an end at the hearing where your plea is entered and accepted.

Not all cases will come to an end in that way. For some people, a third-degree sale of a controlled substance case will only end following a jury trial. At trial, you will have the chance to put on evidence and make the case for your innocence.

Understanding the Nature of Your Charges

Third-degree sale of a controlled substance is a criminal charge that should be taken seriously. The offense, which is the lowest tier of drug-sale charges under state law, is governed by statute. The specifics of the statute can be found at Minnesota Statute Section 152.023. Under the law, the following acts count as a third-degree sale of a controlled substance:

  1. the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures containing a narcotic drug;
  2. on one or more occasions within a 90-day period the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures containing phencyclidine or hallucinogen, it is packaged in dosage units, and equals ten or more dosage units;
  3. the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures containing a controlled substance classified in Schedule I, II, or III, except a Schedule I or II narcotic drug, to a person under the age of 18;
  4. the person conspires with or employs a person under the age of 18 to unlawfully sell one or more mixtures containing a controlled substance listed in Schedule I, II, or III, except a Schedule I or II narcotic drugs; or
  5. on one or more occasions within a 90-day period, the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures of a total weight of five kilograms or more containing marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinol.

Because of the serious nature of this offense, you should expect the prosecutor to aggressively pursue a conviction in your case. Despite their efforts, these charges can be defensible. Our firm is ready to help you pursue a favorable outcome in your case.

Fighting Against a Conviction

If you hire an attorney to guide you through this difficult process, one of the things that will happen is that they will advise you on your options. Even though the odds might seem stacked against you, a conviction in your case is never certain. Your attorney could investigate your case and help you understand what the possible outcomes might be. Some of the possible outcomes in your case outside of being found guilty at trial include:

Pleading Guilty

Few people want to plead guilty to a charge of third-degree sale of a controlled substance. Unfortunately, the evidence in these cases is often strong. Even if a conviction appears likely, your attorney could help you by negotiating with the prosecutor for the best possible outcome.

There are times when the best possible outcome involves avoiding serious consequences. Pleading guilty in conjunction with a negotiated agreement could help you avoid the worst possible outcome—or even avoid serving any jail time at all. If you have never been convicted of a crime before, your attorney could help you negotiate a favorable plea that might result in a clean record at the end of the process.

Dismissing Your Case

One of the best possible outcomes you could see is the dismissal of your drug case. If your case is dismissed, you will not have to face the risk of conviction at trial. This outcome might not be as permanent compared to an acquittal, especially if the prosecutor voluntarily dismisses your charges. However, you could be done with your case forever if your attorney is able to successfully pursue a motion to dismiss.

Acquittal at Trial

If you do not accept a plea bargain and your case is not dismissed, your last option is to take your case to trial. Ultimately, prevailing at trial and obtaining an acquittal could be the best possible outcome for you. If you are acquitted, you can never be tried again for the same charge. This is different from having your charges dismissed, as the state often has the power to bring those charges back on a whim.

Contact Attorney Gerald Miller About Your Drug Charge

Going through the judicial system following an arrest for a third-degree sale of a controlled substance can be overwhelming, especially if you have never been arrested before. The good news is that you do not have to walk this path on your own. The right attorney could guide you along the way while ensuring you are treated fairly by the court system.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller are proud to fight for the accused every day. If you are facing drug charges in Minnesota, our team is here to help you by aggressively pursuing the fair outcome you deserve. Contact us right away to schedule your free consultation.

Related Content: What Happens When You Get Charged with First-Degree Sale of a Controlled Substance in MN?


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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