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What kinds of penalties do you face for drug charges?

Being charged with a drug crime can be scary, but educating yourself on the potential penalties can help you decide the best way to defend yourself in your case. By understanding the worst penalties you can receive, you can work with your attorney to get your punishments lessened or eliminated.

If you're caught selling drugs or are even in possession, the penalties may be similar depending on the quantities. For example, if you have 10 grams or more of cocaine that you are selling or are in possession of 25 or more grams, you could face up to 30 years in prison with a minimum of four years in prison if you've previously been charged with a felony drug charge. A first-degree drug charge can lead to up to $1 million in fines.

What about a third-degree charge? For a third-degree drug charge, any amount of a narcotic drug is enough to lead to a prison sentence in the right circumstances when you're selling them. If you possess 10 grams of any narcotics other than heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine, then you can face up to 20 years in prison. For heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, three grams or more are enough to land you the same sentence by law.

Fifth degree charges can also be a possibility, although the penalties tend to be light. If you have more than 42.5 grams of marijuana for sale or are selling any Schedule IV drug, then you can be placed on probation for up to 19 months, fined up to $10,000 or be imprisoned for up to five years. Being in possession of any Schedule I, II, III or IV drugs can lead to the same crimes, except for if the drug is marijuana. You are legally allowed to be in possession of 42.5 grams or less of the drug at any one time.

Source: Minnesota State University Mankato, "Controlled Substances Crimes & Penalties," accessed June 02, 2016

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