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Drug offenses: Charges and penalties in Minnesota

When you're charged for the use or distribution of controlled substances within Minnesota, it's important to defend yourself. Each kind of drug charge has its own type of penalty that could result in substantial fines or fees, jail time or other punishments.

When charged, a fifth-degree charge is the least serious. Usually, this charge is reserved for the sale of Schedule IV drugs and marijuana. This crime, if you're found guilty, will result in penalties such as a $10,000 fine, probation for up to 19 months or imprisonment for up to 5 years.

Jumping up the scale of the level of the crime, if you're accused of a third-degree drug offense, you are in more trouble than before. This level of offense is reserved for those who intend to sell and carry 10 or more doses of hallucinogens, over 5 kilos of marijuana or those who sell any Schedule I or II drug to someone under 18. It can also be applied in cases where you hire someone to sell drugs for you or if a narcotic drug was sold.

With a third-degree charge, you face up to 20 years in prison with a 2-year minimum if you've had past drug felonies. The fine also grows exponentially, now set at $250,000.

As someone facing serious penalties for an alleged crime, it's important to know that the penalties and crimes can change each time the legislative session changes. For instance, marijuana sales used to be a crime in Colorado, but now they're legal. The same could happen in your state, but for now, your attorney may be the best help you can get.

Source: Minnesota State University, "Controlled Substances Crimes and Penalties," accessed Dec. 03, 2015

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