In the state of Minnesota, as well as in the United States under the law of the federal government, it is illegal to sell, transfer, or use controlled substances. Many drug busts happen at a person’s home with the use of a search warrant or during a routine traffic stop – but what about receiving mail with drugs in it?
It should not be shocking when taking into account current laws that receiving drugs in the mail is against the law. In fact, being in possession of controlled substances that were mailed to you can still land you with a charge for a drug crime. However, each case is different and there are some exceptions that may very well protect you from being prosecuted.
Here is what you need to know about receiving drugs in the mail and what types of charges you may be facing if you commit this crime.
The Limits of Mail Drug Charges in Minnesota
It is a violation of state and federal law to receive controlled substances in the mail without a prescription, but the simple discovery of drugs in your mailbox by the police may not make for a slam-dunk case against you in court.
In Minnesota, drug possession is a crime that is penalized by fines and incarceration. Simply having a controlled substance in your possession, however, may not be enough to be found guilty. That’s because the state has to show that you constructively or physically possessed the substance in question.
Physical possession occurs when you have a substance in your actual possession. You can be carrying it in your pocket or have it in your hand, for example. Constructive possession, on the other hand, can be a lot more challenging to prove, since it requires you to have control over the substance. That’s why police may be able to charge people who aren’t even present at a scene with possession – because the case can be made that they had constructive possession of it. For example, if it was locked in a safe in their residence that only they have the combination for.
Intent is also an issue with drug charges, something that is particularly important in charges that involve receiving drugs in the mail. For the state to get a conviction on these charges, they have to show that you knew you were in possession of an illegal substance.
So, if you weren’t aware of the package or that it contained illegal substances, there is no intent to possess involved, and that can make the case fall flat.
How Do You Challenge Intent?
It’s not uncommon for police not to believe people when they say they didn’t know a controlled substance was being mailed to them. In cases such as these, charges are often brought under circumstances that are simply a misunderstanding.
An experienced attorney can help you make your case to challenge based on intent. They may argue that you were unaware of the package or even what it contained, which can lead to an acquittal or dismissal of the charges against you.
Is It Legal for Minnesota Police to Search the Mail?
When the police open a package and seize its contents, that is where many cases of receiving drugs in the mail start. But do they have the authority to do that in the first place?
The police don’t have some special power to open your mail looking for illegal substances. The Fourth Amendment protects you from that. Having your mail seized unlawfully can be one way the charges against you are ultimately dropped.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and has been named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyser is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.