For those arrested for having drugs in the car, charges can be filed as misdemeanor or felony drug crimes. A felony lawyer in Minneapolis can explain the state’s guidelines for determining the level of the crime.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Drug Crimes
In Minnesota, drug offenses are charged either as misdemeanor or felony drug crimes. Penalties and sentencing guidelines vary based on the level of the crime. If someone is arrested for having drugs in their car, there are three main factors that impact whether the offense will be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony:
- The type of drugs found
- The amount of drugs found
- Possession and/or sale of the drugs
Although a warrant is usually required under federal search and seizure laws, a search warrant is not required if there is probably cause and if circumstances make it impractical or impossible to obtain a search warrant. When a driver is stopped by law enforcement, a police officer is allowed to search the car without a warrant under certain conditions:
- Consent – When a driver and/or passengers in a car give consent to let a police officer search the car, they voluntarily waive their Fourth Amendment rights.
- Plain View – If drugs are in plain view in the car, a police officer has a legal right to search the car and seize the drugs without a warrant.
- Traffic Stops – If a police officer has probable cause to believe that drugs are in the car, and that they would be removed before a search warrant could be obtained, the officer has a legal right to search the car without a warrant.
Penalties for Minnesota Drug Crimes
In Minnesota, drugs are put into categories that range from one to five. Schedule 1 drugs, like cocaine, LSD, heroin, and opiates, are considered highly addictive with a high potential for abuse and low potential for medical benefits. Schedule 5 drugs, like marijuana, are considered to have a high medical benefit and a low potential for addiction. Minnesota statutes list the schedule of each drug and the penalties imposed for each offense. Minnesota has strict drug laws and penalties for drug convictions that include probation, steep fines, jail or prison time, and court-ordered drug treatment programs. When arrested and charged with drug crimes in Minnesota, a felony lawyer in Minneapolis can often get charges and penalties reduced or dismissed, especially if it’s an individual’s first offense.