Drug crimes are taken very seriously in Minnesota. There are many different types of drug crimes, even for those that sound similar in nature. For instance, people are often confused about the differences that exist between selling drugs and trafficking them.
These two separate drug charges do have some commonalities, but they carry some major differences too – which is why you’ll see different penalties for each of them. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between selling drugs in Minnesota and trafficking them, including the punishments that can be faced for each crime.
Controlled Substances Law in Minnesota
Minnesota has many different types of drug charges that are lumped together as controlled substance charges. Selling drugs is also known as “possession of controlled substances with intent to sell”. It occurs when someone is caught in possession of an identified controlled substance in such an amount or with other supplies that lead law enforcement to believe they are going to sell it.
Having controlled substances is known as possession. Authorities add “intent to distribute” to this charge if the person is caught with controlled substance plans or has demonstrated intent to distribute.
The following evidence can lead to “possession with intent to distribute” charges:
- Large amounts of drugs
- Large sums of money
- Drug paraphernalia possession
The Penalties of Possession with Intent to Distribute
If you are charged with possession with the intent to distribute, then you face a wide variety of possible charges. These charges in Minnesota are based on the type of drug you possessed and the number of instances in which you sold it.
It is often charged as a first-degree controlled substance offense. It can send you to prison for up to 15 years and make you responsible for fines up to $100,000. However, if law enforcement can prove you sold the drugs possessed a particular number of times, then the worst-case scenario can be up to 30 years behind bars and fines of as much as $1 million.
Drug Trafficking in Minnesota
Drug trafficking still involves possession of controlled substances, but it’s different from possession with the intent to distribute in one very important way: the amount of controlled substances you are found with at the time of the arrest.
If you are found in possession of this amount of the following substances, you may be charged with drug trafficking under Minnesota law:
- 25 grams or more of methamphetamines, cocaine, or heroin
- 500 grams or more of other narcotics
- 500 grams or 500 dosage units or more of hallucinogens, PCP, or amphetamine
- 100 kilos or more of marijuana
Drug trafficking in Minnesota is often charged as a first-degree controlled substance crime just as possession with intent to distribute. However, those found guilty of trafficking are much more likely to face the upper end of the penalty range, which means you can spend 40 years in prison and pay up to $1 million in fines.
Plus, if you are charged with drug trafficking, it is considered a federal crime as well. If state lines were crossed during the trafficking of drugs, then federal drug trafficking charges can be added to the mix. That can bring with it even more serious penalties of 40 years in prison and fines of as much as $5 million.
How To Defend Against Minnesota Controlled Substance Charges
If you are accused of either trafficking drugs or possessing them with the intent to distribute, then it’s vital to understand your rights under the law as well as the details of the case against you. You should get an experienced attorney on your side as soon as possible to help formulate a solid defense for your case.
One of the most common ways attorneys attempt to defend clients in these cases is by looking at the procedures that were used to investigate and ultimately arrest them. If something wasn’t done correctly under the laws that protect your rights, it’s possible to have the case against you dismissed.
This can also work to suppress certain evidence that was collected in illegal ways. For example, if the police illegally searched your property without probable cause, then any evidence obtained can’t be used against you.
It’s also important that your rights were read to you when you were placed under arrest. Any statements you made can’t be used against you in court unless you were warned about your right to remain silent.
There are so many ways that you can build a defense in your case, and an experienced attorney can help you get there. In the meantime, understanding the laws and the differences between charges – possession, intent to distribute, and drug trafficking – are vital to help you avoid arrested and accusation of very serious crimes.
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 named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyers 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.