In 2016, Minnesota made sweeping changes to existing laws regarding sale and possession of controlled substances. By doing so, the hope is that many judges will offer people with addiction issues a chance to go to rehab and turn their lives around its opposed to draconian jail or prison sentences. However, these new changes will still leave most controlled substance offenders subject to harsh punishments.
Those charged with selling or trafficking controlled substances will now face more severe consequences if convicted. Many factors will come into play, but judges will consider whether the sale was accompanied by violence, if the defendant has prior convictions, hate crimes, or if bodily harm occurred. Under the new sentencing guidelines, a defendant charged with first degree trafficking of a controlled substance in Minnesota could be sentenced to up to thirty years in prison and a one million dollar fine. There is a four-year minimum if the defendant has a prior felony conviction.
Extenuating circumstances apply as well. The first degree trafficking charge is considered aggravated if the defendant was caught with a gun, was acting on the behalf of a gang, or falls under the legal definition of a “kingpin”, among other aggravating factors. A kingpin has over one hundred grams of a substance, or two aggravating factors with his or her arrest. This leads directly to a non-waivable mandatory minimum of 86 months’ incarceration.
So, What Determines the Degree of Charge?
Simply put, the degree depends on what controlled substance was possessed and how much of that substance was found. If you were arrested for trafficking in a controlled substance, it is wise to know exactly what you’re looking at before you ever set foot inside the court room.
- First Degree: 17 or more grams of cocaine or methamphetamine, 10 or more grams of heroin, 50 grams of another narcotic drug, 200 doses of a hallucinogen, or 25 kilos of marijuana. Can carry up to a thirty year sentence and a million dollar fine.
- Second Degree: 10 or more grams of any narcotic other than heroin, 3 or more grams of heroin, 50 doses of a hallucinogen, or 10 kilos of marijuana. Sell in a school zone, park, public housing, drug treatment center, or to a minor. Can carry up to a 25 year sentence and a $500,000 dollar fine.
- Third Degree: Any amount of narcotic, 10 doses of a hallucinogen, or 5 kilos of marijuana. Employment of a person under age 18 to sell a drug. Carries up to 20 years and a quarter-million dollar fine.
- Fourth Degree: Any schedule 1, 2, or 3 drug (except marijuana) or the sale of marijuana in a school zone, park, or public housing zone. Sell of a schedule 4 or 5 to a person under 18. Can carry up to 15 years and a hundred thousand dollar fine.
- Fifth Degree: Any amount of marijuana except small amounts for no remuneration, or any schedule 4 drug. Can carry up to 5 years and a $10,000 dollar fine.
As you can see, Minnesota’s new drug trafficking penalties are exceedingly strong. If you are facing drug trafficking charges, be sure that you are represented by the highest-quality attorney you can when you have your day in court. Attorneys Robert Foley and Dana Kinsella have experience that can only be earned through diligence and time. Remember, the attorney you choose will absolutely change your life. Make sure you’re choosing the right one. Contact us today if you are facing trafficking charges and we will get to work mounting the best defense possible. We will put your mind at ease.