How Minnesota Determines Penalties For Drug Offenses

If you are charged with a drug offense in Minnesota, how do you know what penalties you are facing? It depends on two main variables:

  • The type of drug: Minnesota, like many states, categorizes drugs into "schedules," depending on the likelihood of addiction, possible medical benefits and other considerations. For example, heroin and cocaine are categorized as Schedule I because they are highly addictive and have no medical use. Marijuana, on the other hand, is categorized as Schedule V (the lowest category) because there are some accepted medical uses and little chance of addiction.
  • Whether the charge is possession or sale: In general, penalties are lighter for possessing any type of drug than selling the same drug. Selling a drug to a person under 18 generally leads to even more severe penalties.

Additionally, the federal government jurisdiction is concurrent with the state on drug crimes in most cases. The severity of federal penalties is also much worse than the penalties in state jurisdictions, so having strong criminal defense is essential to protect your rights.

Call Mankey Law Office in Minneapolis at 612-424-9454 for a free consultation.

The Degrees Of Drug Offenses

Under Minnesota's controlled substance laws, penalties depend on whether an offense is categorized as first, second, third, fourth or fifth degree. A first-degree drug crime is the most serious, with the most severe penalties. Here are some of the crimes that fall under each degree category:

  • First degree: Possession of at least 50 grams of cocaine or methamphetamines, 25 grams of heroin, 50 kilograms of marijuana or 500 marijuana plants; sale of at least 17 grams of cocaine or methamphetamines, 10 grams of heroin, 50 grams of other narcotics, 200 doses of a hallucinogen or 25 kilograms of marijuana.
  • Second degree: Possession of at least 25 grams of cocaine or methamphetamines, 6 grams of heroin, 50 grams of other narcotics, 100 doses of a hallucinogen, 25 kilograms of marijuana or 100 marijuana plants; sale of at least 3 grams of heroin, 10 grams of any other narcotic, 50 doses of a hallucinogen, 10 kilograms of marijuana.
  • Third degree: Possession of at least 3 grams of heroin, 10 grams of any other narcotic, 10 kilograms of marijuana; sale of any amount of a narcotic, 5 or more kilograms of marijuana.
  • Fourth degree: Possession of 10 or more doses of a hallucinogen; possession of any amount of a Schedule I, II or III controlled substance with intent to sell; sale of any Schedule I, II or III drug.
  • Fifth degree: Possession of any amount of Schedule I, II, III or IV drugs except 42.5 grams or less of marijuana; sale of any amount of marijuana or other Schedule IV drug.

Possible Penalties For Each Degree Category

  • First degree: Up to 30 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines
  • Second degree: Up to 25 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines
  • Third degree: Up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines
  • Fourth degree: Up to 15 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines
  • Fifth degree: Up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines

It is important to remember that these are the upper limits of each penalty categories, though some crimes do carry a mandatory minimum sentence (for example, if you have been convicted of a drug felony in the past). A skilled attorney can fight for reduced prison time and fines. We have helped many clients struggling with addiction receive treatment instead of prison.

The penalties shown here are based on state and federal statutes which prohibit this conduct. In both the state and federal system courts use sentencing guidelines to determine a sentence in any given case. The guideline range of sentences in both state and federal court may be higher or lower than a statutory maximum listed in the statute. Determining the sentence correctly after a conviction is an integral part of any strong defense strategy. The process can also often be complicated, especially when federal court is involved.

No Matter The Charge, We Can Help Defend You

At Mankey Law Office, we are experienced at defending people charged with all types of State and Federal drug offenses in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Call our Golden Valley office at 612-424-9454 for a free consultation with a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer. You may also contact us online.