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What It Means To Be in Possession of Drugs In Minnesota

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.

Possession of Drugs in an Automobile

The presence of an illegal drug or controlled substance in a “passenger automobile” allows one to assume that the driver, or the person who is in control of the automobile, knowingly possessed the drug or a controlled substance when that drug was in the automobile. This inference applies only to controlled substance offenses in the first, second, and third-degree, to drug importation crimes, and to crimes involving the possession of materials or substances with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine.

A Minnesota Supreme Court Ruling Concerning Possession of Drugs

For example, in State v. Cusick, the Minnesota Supreme Court found there was enough evidence to establish constructive possession of cocaine by Mr. Cusick when after a car accident, police officers found a cocaine user’s equipment right next to Mr. Cusick’s wallet in the front seat of the car. Although Mr. Cusick did not own the vehicle, he was the boyfriend of the owner of the vehicle. The Court found this was enough evidence to find constructive possession of cocaine even though the majority of the property in the vehicle belonged to Mr. Cusick’s girlfriend, his girlfriend was the cocaine user, and his girlfriend testified at trial that the cocaine belonged to her.

This passenger automobile inference or assumption does not apply to a licensed operator of a vehicle who is operating that vehicle as part of their employment or trade; to anyone who legally possessed a controlled substance or drug in the vehicle; or when the drug is concealed or hidden on one of the passengers in the vehicle.

If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with the sale or possession of controlled substances or drugs, it is important that you speak with a knowledgeable Minnesota Drug Crimes Attorney at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible. The notions of what is considered possession or a sale under Minnesota can be difficult to navigate without the help of an experienced attorney. Contact Gerald Miller, P.A. at (612) 341-9080 to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation, and let one of our attorneys help you fight for your legal rights.

Related Content: Can I Get in Trouble if Someone Mails me Drugs in MN?

About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.


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