Controlled Substance Crime in the Fifth Degree

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Facing a fifth degree controlled substance crime charge in Minnesota can be a confusing and stressful experience. Understanding the intricacies of the statute, potential penalties, and available defenses is crucial for protecting your rights and navigating the legal landscape. This article, written by a Duluth criminal defense lawyer, aims to demystify the complexities of this offense and empower you with knowledge as you navigate this challenging situation.

The Statutory Language: Fifth Degree Drug Crimes in Minnesota

MINN. STAT. 152.025, which states as follows, provides the legal framework for controlled substance crime in the fifth degree in the state of Minnesota:


Subdivision 1. Sale crimes.

A person is guilty of a controlled substance crime in the fifth degree and upon conviction may be sentenced as provided in subdivision 4 if the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures containing a controlled substance classified in Schedule IV.

Subd. 2. Possession and other crimes.

A person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the fifth degree and upon conviction may be sentenced as provided in subdivision 4 if:

(1) the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures containing a controlled substance classified in Schedule I, II, III, or IV, except cannabis flower, cannabis products, lower-potency hemp edibles, or hemp-derived consumer products or a residual amount of one or more mixtures of controlled substances contained in drug paraphernalia; or

(2) the person procures, attempts to procure, possesses, or has control over a controlled substance by any of the following means:

(i) fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge;

(ii) using a false name or giving false credit; or

(iii) falsely assuming the title of, or falsely representing any person to be, a manufacturer, wholesaler, pharmacist, physician, doctor of osteopathic medicine licensed to practice medicine, dentist, podiatrist, veterinarian, or other authorized person for the purpose of obtaining a controlled substance.

Subd. 3.

[Repealed, 2009 c 83 art 3 s 24]

Subd. 4. Penalty.

(a) A person convicted under the provisions of subdivision 2, clause (1), who has not been previously convicted of a violation of this chapter or a similar offense in another jurisdiction, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor if: (1) the amount of the controlled substance possessed, other than heroin, is less than 0.25 grams or one dosage unit or less if the controlled substance was possessed in dosage units; or (2) the controlled substance possessed is heroin and the amount possessed is less than 0.05 grams.

(b) A person convicted under the provisions of subdivision 1; subdivision 2, clause (1), unless the conduct is described in paragraph (a); or subdivision 2, clause (2), may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

Breaking Down the Elements of a Fifth Degree Controlled Substance Crime in Minnesota:

Minnesota statute 152.025 outlines three primary ways in which an individual can be charged with a fifth degree controlled substance crime:

Unlawful Sale of Schedule IV Controlled Substances

  • Schedule IV Drugs: The statute specifically targets the unlawful sale of mixtures containing controlled substances classified in Schedule IV. Schedule IV drugs are considered to have a low potential for abuse and dependence, such as Xanax, Valium, and some prescription stimulants.
  • Unlawful Sale: The key element here is “unlawful,” meaning any sale not authorized by law, such as selling these drugs without a license or outside of a legitimate medical context.

Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substances

  • Schedule I, II, III, or IV: This clause covers the unlawful possession of any controlled substance classified in these schedules, excluding:
    • Cannabis flower and products: Possession of marijuana and marijuana products under Minnesota’s medical cannabis program isn’t considered a fifth degree crime.
    • Lower-potency hemp edibles and consumer products: Similar to cannabis, possession of these hemp-derived products under Minnesota’s hemp laws doesn’t fall under this statute.
    • Residual amounts in paraphernalia: Trace amounts of drugs left in drug paraphernalia also don’t qualify as an offense under this clause.
  • Quantity Thresholds: While any unlawful possession falls under this category, specific quantity thresholds for certain drugs determine the sentencing:
    • Less than 0.25 grams of non-heroin drugs: Possession of smaller amounts of Schedule I-III drugs,excluding heroin, carries a reduced penalty as a gross misdemeanor.
    • Less than 0.05 grams of heroin: The specific threshold for heroin highlights its significantly higher potential for abuse, resulting in harsher penalties even for small quantities.

Obtaining Controlled Substances Through Fraud or Misrepresentation

  • Deceptive Means: This clause covers acquiring controlled substances using fraudulent methods, such as:
    • Fake prescriptions or forged documents.
    • Providing false identities or addresses.
    • Misrepresenting oneself as a medical professional.
  • Intent to Deceive: The key element here is the intent to deceive to obtain the controlled substance.

Understanding the Potential Penalties for Fifth Degree Substance Crimes

A conviction for a fifth degree controlled substance crime in Minnesota carries significant consequences, including:

  • Imprisonment: Up to five years in prison, potentially impacting career, relationships, and personal life.
  • Fines: Up to $10,000 in fines, creating substantial financial burden and potentially jeopardizing personal assets.
  • Criminal Record: A criminal record can limit future employment opportunities, housing options, and educational prospects.
  • Social Stigma: The societal stigma associated with a drug conviction can have lasting negative consequences on personal life and reputation.
  • Potential Loss of Professional Licenses: Depending on your profession, a drug conviction may result in losing licenses or facing disciplinary action.

Defending Minnesota Fifth Degrees Possession of a Controlled Substance Cases: Duluth, Brainerd, Moorhead, Bemidji, and Beyond

Navigating the intricate legalities of a fifth degree controlled substance crime charge necessitates understanding the potential defenses available. An experienced Duluth criminal defense lawyer can help build a robust defense tailored to your specific circumstances, some common strategies include:

  • Challenging the Legality of the Search and Seizure: If law enforcement violated your constitutional rights during the search and seizure of evidence, such as drugs, the evidence may be deemed inadmissible in court.
  • Questioning the Chain of Custody: Ensuring the proper handling and documentation of evidence from the point of seizure to presentation in court is crucial. Inconsistencies or gaps in the chain of custody can cast doubt on the legitimacy of the evidence.
  • Investigating Entrapment: If law enforcement entrapped you into committing the crime by inducing or persuading you to act in a way you wouldn’t have otherwise, it may negate criminal culpability.
  • Lack of Proof of Knowledge or Intent: In cases involving possession, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed the controlled substance.
  • Medical Necessity: In limited cases, where possession of a controlled substance is for legitimate medical purposes with a valid prescription, a defense based on medical necessity might be viable.

Seeking Treatment: A Strategic Tool in Navigating a Fifth Degree Controlled Substance Crime Charge

While facing a fifth degree controlled substance crime charge can be daunting, it can also present an unexpected opportunity for positive change. Embracing treatment for addiction during this challenging time can not only benefit your overall well-being but also play a surprisingly strategic role in your legal defense.

Here’s how seeking treatment can be a valuable asset in your case:

  1. Demonstrates Proactive Steps: Actively enrolling in treatment showcases your genuine commitment to addressing your addiction and taking responsibility for your actions. This proactive approach can positively influence the judge’s perception of your remorse and willingness to change.
  2. Challenges Intent to Sell: In cases where intent to sell is a factor, actively participating in treatment can cast doubt on the prosecution’s claims. By prioritizing recovery and demonstrating a focus on personal health, you potentially negate the intent to distribute drugs.
  3. Supports Alternative Sentencing: Judges often look favorably upon defendants committed to rehabilitation.Evidence of active treatment participation can strengthen your lawyer’s arguments for alternative sentencing options such as probation or drug courts, which prioritize treatment alongside legal consequences.
  4. Provides Positive Character References: Treatment programs connect you with counselors, therapists, and support groups who can vouch for your commitment to recovery and positive changes. These character references can be invaluable to your lawyer when presenting your case to the court.
  5. Improves Overall Well-being: Regardless of the legal outcome, prioritizing your well-being through treatment is paramount. Addressing your addiction can bring significant improvements to your physical and mental health,empowering you to make positive choices and build a brighter future.

Taking the First Step

Seeking treatment doesn’t have to wait for a court order. Numerous resources and programs are available in Duluth and surrounding areas, many offering confidential services and sliding scale fees to accommodate various needs and budgets. Your lawyer can help you explore options like:

  • The Duluth Area Treatment Center, offering comprehensive addiction treatment programs, individual counseling, and medication support.
  • The St. Louis County Chemical Dependency Program, providing outpatient services, case management, and support groups.
  • The Minnesota Recovery Project, offering affordable, accessible detox and residential treatment programs across the state.

These are just a few examples, and many other options are available depending on your specific needs and preferences.

Remember: You are not alone. In Duluth, and throughout Minnesota, there are resources and support networks ready to help you overcome addiction and build a healthier future. By taking the first step towards treatment, you can demonstrate your commitment to change, potentially impact your legal case, and most importantly, invest in your well-being for the long term.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fifth Degree Controlled Substance Crimes in Minnesota

 What happens if I’m caught with a small amount of drugs?

The quantity of drugs possessed can influence the charges and potential penalties. While smaller amounts may qualify for reduced penalties as a gross misdemeanor under certain circumstances, any illegal possession still carries consequences. Consulting a lawyer to understand the specific charges filed against you and potential defense options is crucial.

Do I need a lawyer if I’m facing a drug charge?

Navigating the complexities of the legal system and effectively asserting your rights requires specialized knowledge and experience. An experienced Duluth criminal defense lawyer can guide you through the process, protect your rights, and advocate for the best possible outcome in your case.

Can I get probation instead of jail time?

The possibility of probation depends on various factors, including your criminal history, the specific circumstances of the case, and the judge’s discretion. A skilled lawyer can present your case in a favorable light and increase your chances of receiving probation or alternative sentencing options.

What happens if I have a prior drug conviction?

A prior drug conviction can enhance the potential penalties. However, this doesn’t mean you have no options. Your lawyer can explore mitigating factors, negotiate with the prosecution, and strive for a reduced sentence or alternative sentencing options.

Can I expunge my record if I’m convicted?

Minnesota law allows for the expungement of certain criminal convictions under specific criteria. Consulting a lawyer can help you determine your eligibility and guide you through the expungement process.

I’m worried about my immigration status. What happens if I’m not a U.S. citizen?

A drug conviction can have significant consequences for non-U.S. citizens, potentially leading to deportation or jeopardizing future immigration applications. Seeking legal counsel from an attorney experienced in immigration law can be crucial in protecting your immigration status.

I’m struggling with addiction. Can I get help?

Facing a drug charge can be an opportunity to seek help for addiction. Minnesota offers various resources and treatment programs to support individuals struggling with substance abuse.

I was prescribed the controlled substance I was found with. Is that a defense?

Having a valid prescription for the controlled substance can be a strong defense against possession charges. Be sure to bring your prescription and any necessary documentation to court. Your lawyer can help you present this evidence effectively.

Can I be charged with a fifth degree crime if I received the drugs from someone else?

If you had no knowledge or intent to possess the controlled substance, but simply received it from someone else unknowingly, you may have a defense. Explaining the situation honestly and cooperating with your lawyer are crucial in such cases.

What happens if I’m charged with both possession and sale?

In some cases, individuals might face charges for both possessing and selling controlled substances. The penalties for each charge can be combined, potentially leading to more severe consequences. An experienced lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution to minimize the overall penalties and seek alternative sentencing options.

I’m worried about facing drug court. What happens there?

Drug courts offer an alternative sentencing path for individuals struggling with addiction. These courts emphasize treatment and rehabilitation alongside legal consequences. If you qualify for drug court, your lawyer can advocate for this option and guide you through the program’s requirements.

Can I appeal my conviction if I’m found guilty?

You have the right to appeal your conviction if you believe there were errors or inconsistencies in the legal process. Your lawyer can advise you on the grounds for appeal and guide you through the process of filing and arguing your case.

Why You Need a Duluth Criminal Defense Lawyer on Your Side

Facing a fifth degree controlled substance crime charge in Minnesota can be a deeply unsettling experience. The legal complexities, potential penalties, and emotional stress can feel overwhelming. In such a situation, having an experienced Duluth criminal defense lawyer by your side can make a significant difference.

Here’s why partnering with a skilled lawyer is crucial

  1. Protecting Your Rights: Your lawyer understands your legal rights and ensures they are upheld throughout the process. They will guide you through every step, ensuring you make informed decisions and avoid missteps that could jeopardize your case.
  2. Building a Strong Defense: Lawyers possess the expertise to analyze the evidence against you, identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, and build a robust defense strategy tailored to your specific circumstances. This could involve challenging the legality of evidence, questioning witness testimony, or exploring alternative explanations for the events.
  3. Negotiating for the Best Outcome: Your lawyer acts as your advocate, negotiating with the prosecution to seek the most favorable outcome in your case. This could involve seeking reduced charges, alternative sentencing options, or even dismissal of the case altogether.
  4. Minimizing the Impact on Your Life: A conviction for a fifth degree controlled substance crime can have far-reaching consequences, impacting your employment, housing, and personal relationships. Your lawyer can help mitigate these consequences and minimize the overall impact on your life.

Choosing the Right Duluth Criminal Defense Lawyer

Not all lawyers are created equal. When selecting a lawyer to represent you in this critical matter, choose someone with a proven track record of success in handling fifth degree controlled substance crime cases. Look for a lawyer who:

  • Has extensive experience practicing criminal defense law in Minnesota.
  • Possesses a deep understanding of the specific laws and procedures applicable to your case.
  • Has a reputation for aggressive advocacy and achieving positive outcomes for their clients.
  • Is committed to open communication and keeping you informed throughout the process.
  • Provides compassionate and personalized legal guidance, understanding your individual needs and concerns.

A fifth degree controlled substance crime charge in Minnesota is a serious matter, but it doesn’t have to define your future. With the right Duluth criminal defense lawyer by your side, you can navigate this challenge effectively, protect your rights, and strive for the best possible outcome in your case. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified legal professional today and take the first step towards a brighter future.