What Happens When You Get Charged with First-Degree Sale of a Controlled Substance in MN??
Without question, first-degree sale of a controlled substance is the most serious drug charge under Minnesota law. A conviction on these charges could result in seven-figure fines and decades behind bars. This offense could dramatically alter the course of your life forever.
If you have been charged with first-degree sale of a controlled substance, it is understandable for you to wonder what comes next. The process in these cases is generally the same, but there is no way to predict with certainty how your case with play out.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller understand what is at stake when it comes to a first-degree sale of a controlled substance charge in Minnesota. Our attorneys can help you understand what happens after your arrest while guiding you through the entire legal process. Reach out right away to speak with an experienced drug crimes lawyer.
The Steps in Your Criminal Case
In Minnesota, you will generally follow the same procedure when you are charged with a crime regardless of the offense. From arrest to trial and all points in between, these steps are likely familiar to most people. However, the outcome of each case can differ dramatically. For example, it can be much more difficult to secure bail before trial when you are facing serious felony charges compared to a misdemeanor offense.
The first stage in every first-degree sale of a controlled substance case is an arrest. Your arrest could have occurred under different circumstances, from a traffic stop to an arrest following the search of your home. Given the gravity of these charges, most people arrested on this offense will remain in jail until they have an opportunity to see a judge.
The initial hearing in your case is referred to as arraignment. If you were held following your arrest, this could be your first shot at bail. It is also your opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Your attorney can appear with you at this hearing and argue for your release pending trial. In some cases, an attorney could appear on your behalf at arraignment. However, for serious charges like first-degree sale of a controlled substance, the odds are good you will remain in custody until this hearing date.
The arraignment is the first hearing in your criminal case, but it will not likely be the last. There are ongoing status hearings as your case winds through the justice system. If you are free on bond, your attorney could appear at many of these hearings on your behalf.
Some hearings are about more than status updates. If your attorney files a motion to dismiss your case or to exclude evidence from trial, these issues are heard during a motion hearing prior to trial. A hearing could also be called if you choose to enter a plea bargain.
If you do not plead guilty or have your case dismissed, you will ultimately go to trial. Criminal trials are usually in front of a jury, although you have the right to request your case be heard by a judge instead. At trial, each side will put on evidence and call witnesses. It is the state’s burden to prove at trial that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Severity of the Offense Can Impact Your Case
First-degree sale of a controlled substance is a serious offense. Understanding the severity of this charge is helpful, as it can inform you on how the process might play out. Unlike lesser offenses, the prosecution is unlikely to dismiss these charges or make an offer that does not include jail time.
The sale of a controlled substance in the first degree is governed by Minnesota Statute Section 152.021. This offense involves any of the following conduct:
- on one or more occasions within a 90-day period the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures of a total weight of 17 grams or more containing cocaine or methamphetamine;
- on one or more occasions within a 90-day period, the person unlawfully sells 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 two aggravating factors;
- on one or more occasions within a 90-day period the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures of a total weight of ten grams or more containing heroin;
- on one or more occasions within a 90-day period the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures of a total weight of 50 grams or more containing a narcotic drug other than cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine;
- on one or more occasions within a 90-day period, the person unlawfully sells 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 200 or more dosage units; or
- on one or more occasions within a 90-day period, the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures of a total weight of 25 kilograms or more containing marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol.
In other words, this charge covers the most serious allegations of selling a controlled substance under state law.
Your Conviction is Not Guaranteed
There is always uncertainty following an arrest for first-degree sale of a controlled substance in Minnesota. For that reason, you are never guaranteed to be found guilty on these charges. Depending on the evidence and the strength of your defense strategy, you might be able to avoid a conviction in your case or achieve another favorable outcome.
An attorney could play a vital part in helping you avoid the worst-case scenario. This could start with a thorough investigation of the allegations against you. If your attorney determines that your rights were violated or the case against you is weak, they could develop a winning strategy for your case.
It is important to remember that the positive outcomes available in some cases might not be in others. While a dismissal of your charges is the best-case scenario, there could be ways to make the most of the charges against you outside of a dismissal. Some examples include:
Acquittal at Trial
If the prosecution is not interested in dropping your charges of a controlled substance in Minnesota or making a deal, it could be best to make your case to a jury of your peers. Your attorney could bring the evidence that the prosecution ignored and highlight the lack of evidence the state has against you. Remember, the prosecution has the burden of proof in your case. To convict you of first-degree sale of a controlled substance, they must prove every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. For many people, their case comes to a sudden end upon acquittal at trial.
Plea bargains are common in drug cases. In fact, it is the most common outcome following an arrest for first-degree sale of a controlled substance. However, not every plea is equal. Your attorney could work to negotiate a plea bargain that represents the best possible outcome in your case.
The reality in many drug cases is that the evidence of guilt is strong. Even when a conviction is likely, your attorney could negotiate a favorable plea that reduces the penalties you face. Your attorney could work out a deal for reduced jail time or even have you plead guilty to a lesser offense. The right plea bargain could dramatically improve the outcome of your case.
Call an Attorney About Your Controlled Substance Case in Minnesota
You should never take an arrest for first-degree sale of a controlled substance lightly. This offense is serious, and a conviction could have lasting consequences for you and those you love. This includes spending up to 30 years in prison if you are found guilty.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller know that you are facing serious allegations of Controlled Substances in Minnesota that can impact your life. A strong defense strategy could help you avoid a conviction or reduce the consequences you face. Reach out as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation with Gerald Miller.