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What Happens When You Get Charged with Second-Degree Possession of a Controlled Substance in Minnesota?

There are significant consequences that come with a conviction for second-degree possession of a controlled substance in Minnesota. This offense is one of the steeper drug charges recognized under state law, and a conviction could send you to prison for years.

That said, being charged with this offense never guarantees that you are convicted. You have the right to defend yourself, and you have the right to have an attorney help you do it. A strong defense strategy could help you avoid a conviction completely.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller know what is at stake with these charges. We are proud of our work standing up for the accused, and we are ready to help you fight back. Let a drug crimes lawyer from our firm review your case and advise you on your options. Call today for a free consultation to learn what happens when you ace second-degree possession charges.

You Face Significant Penalties if Convicted

Second-degree possession of a controlled substance is always considered a felony according to state law. That means any conviction could result in more than a year in prison. In fact, the maximum penalty in these cases is much higher. If you are convicted of second-degree drug possession, you could face as much as 25 years in prison. You could also face a fine of up to $500,000 or some combination of the two.

Judges in these cases have some leeway when it comes to sentencing. For first-time offenders, it is not uncommon for the accused to face far less time behind bars than the maximum. However, second and subsequent offenses carry mandatory minimum. The mandatory minimum sentence in these cases is three years, and the maximum increases to 40 years of incarceration.

Never forget that these penalties only occur if you are found guilty. If you are successful at trial or have the charges against you dismissed, you will never face the risk of jail time, fines, or other penalties. Our attorneys are ready to help you build a defense strategy to beat these charges.

You Might Be Offered a Plea Bargain

If you have been charged with second degree possession of a controlled substance, the chances are good that the prosecution will offer you a plea bargain. Prosecutors have many cases to handle, and they frequently resolve them with negotiated plea agreements.

Whether or not your plea agree is worth accepting depends on the circumstance. For some people, the best path forward is to take the case to trial. This is true when the evidence against you is weak, or when the state refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer. When the state’s case is strong, a plea bargain could be in your best interest. The key is to secure the best possible terms with the help of your attorney.

Your Attorney Could Have Your Charges Dismissed

You might also see your attorney seek the dismissal of the charges against you following your arrest. Motions to dismiss are common. While most of them are unsuccessful, numerous defendants have seen the charges against them dismissed thanks to the work of their attorney. The stronger your defense, the more likely it is the case against you will be dismissed.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller know what goes into a strong defense strategy. Without help, we could file a motion to dismiss the charges against you. If the motion is successful, it could bring the criminal proceedings to an end.

Your Case Will Involve Court Hearings

Your case will take time to resolve. As it works its way through the court system, you can expect numerous hearings before a judge. Some of these hearings are little more than status hearings to update the judge on the progress of the case. Other hearings will involve important issues like discover disputes or motions to dismiss the charges against you.

For simple matters like status hearings, your attorney could represent you without the need for you to appear in person. In hearings with motions, you are likely to be present. Having an attorney on your side could greatly reduce the time commitment that come with facing criminal charges.

The State Will Try to Prove Your Guilt

You can count on the state to aggressively pursue a conviction in your second-degree drug possession case. This will include developing an array of evidence against you, possibly including witness testimony, video, or physical evidence taken during a search.

Remember that the state must prove that you possessed a controlled substance beyond a reasonable doubt. For second-degree possession, this includes proving that you possessed specific amounts of certain drugs. According to Minnesota Statute Section 152.022, these substances include:

  1. the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of 25 grams or more containing cocaine or methamphetamine;
  2. the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of ten grams or more containing cocaine or methamphetamine and:
    1. 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
    2. the offense involves three aggravating factors;
  3. the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of six grams or more containing heroin;
  4. the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of 50 grams or more containing a narcotic drug other than cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine;
  5. the person unlawfully possesses 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 100 or more dosage units; or
  6. the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of 25 kilograms or more containing marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols, or possesses 100 or more marijuana plants.

Your Attorney Will Defend Against the State’s Case

You have a chance of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case, but you will need a strong defense strategy to do so. Your attorney will work with the facts of your case to identify the best possible strategy. No two cases are alike, so it is vital to craft a defense strategy that fits the facts of your case. Some common defense strategies include:


Entrapment is an uncommon affirmative defense that does not apply to most criminal cases. However, it is not unheard of in second degree possession of a controlled substance cases.

Entrapment occurs when the police trick or force you to commit a crime you would not have committed without their efforts. This defense must show that you only committed a crime because o the pressure placed on you by law enforcement—typically undercover officers.

Constitution Violations

The violation of your constitutional rights could also serve as a viable defense strategy. This usually occurs in the context of an illegal search or seizure. The police are limited in their ability to search or seize your property. When they do so illegally, anything they find could be excluded from trial. The lack of evidence might lead the state to dismiss the charges against you.

Lack of Evidence

In many cases, the best defense is to highlight how weak the state’s case against you is. The prosecution has the burden to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt That means you do not have to mount a defense at all. Your attorney could build your defense around the weakness of the state’s case and highlight the fact that they have failed to meet the burden of proof.

Talk to Attorney Gerald Miller About Your Case

One of the most important things that can happen in your second degree possession of a controlled substance case is that you speak with an attorney. You have the right to legal counsel, and an attorney could improve your chances of a favorable outcome.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller know how to beat these charges, and we are ready to work tirelessly on your behalf. Do not accept a plea bargain without first speaking to legal counsel. Contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation.

Related Content: What Happens When You Get Charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance in Minnesota?


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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