A drug conviction in Minnesota is serious business, and with the state’s harsh possession penalties, even a first time offense could be life changing. While recent drug sentencing reform- the first major overhaul in approximately 30 years- is designed to separate drug dealers from users by providing lighter penalties for those convicted of lower-level crimes, individuals still face extensive fines and/ or jail time, not to mention the possibility of having a permanent criminal record.
Under Minnesota drug possession laws, the penalties vary depending on the type of illegal substance and the amount the individual is convicted of carrying. Effective for felony drug offenses committed on or after August 1, 2016, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission (MSGC) reports the new penalties to be as follows.
- First Degree Drug Conviction: Individuals convicted of the sale of 17g of cocaine or methamphetamine, 10g heroin, 50g other narcotics, 200 doses of hallucinogen, or 50 kilos of marijuana face first degree penalties. Additionally, those convicted of possessing at least 50g of cocaine or methamphetamine, 25g of heroin, 50 kilos marijuana, or 500 marijuana plants are first degree offenders. First degree offenders face up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million.
- Second Degree Conviction: Offenders convicted of the possession of at least 25g cocaine or methamphetamine, 6g heroin, 50g other narcotics, 100 doses hallucinogen, 25 kilos marijuana, or 100 marijuana plants and those convicted of selling 10g narcotics besides heroin, 3g heroin, 50 doses hallucinogen, 10 kilos marijuana, or Schedule I or II narcotics to a minor under 18 or in a school zone, park, public housing, or drug treatment facility face up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
- Third, Fourth and Fifth Degree Drug Conviction: While there are no longer minimum sentencing requirements for third, fourth, or fifth degree offenders, these individuals could still face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines depending on the severity of their crime. Fortunately, it is not uncommon for a drug lawyer in Minneapolis to see clients avoid jail time by negotiating to complete more nontraditional approaches like drug treatment programs or drug court. In some situations, such action results in reduced sentences, having jail time set aside, or even having the charges completely dropped.