Controlled Substance Crime in the Fourth Degree

Navigating the Complexities of a Fourth Degree Controlled Substance Crime Charge in Minnesota: A Duluth Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Guide

Facing a fourth degree controlled substance crime charge in Minnesota can be overwhelming and stressful. Understanding the nuances of the statute, potential penalties, and available defenses is crucial for navigating the legal landscape and protecting your rights. 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.

Fourth degree drug crimes lawyer in Bemidji and Duluth, Minnesota
Fourth degree drug crimes in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Statute for Fourth Degree Drug Crimes

Controlled substance crime in the fourth degre is codified in Minnesota under MINN. STAT. 152.024.


Subdivision 1. Sale crimes.

A person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the fourth degree if:

(1) the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures containing a controlled substance classified in Schedule I, II, or III, except marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols;

(2) the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures containing a controlled substance classified in Schedule IV or V to a person under the age of 18; or

(3) the person conspires with or employs a person under the age of 18 to unlawfully sell a controlled substance classified in Schedule IV or V.

Subd. 2. Possession crimes.

A person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the fourth degree if:

(1) the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures containing phencyclidine or hallucinogen, it is packaged in dosage units, and equals ten or more dosage units; or

(2) the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures containing a controlled substance classified in Schedule I, II, or III, except marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols, with the intent to sell it.

Subd. 3. Penalty.

A person convicted under subdivision 1 or 2 may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 15 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $100,000, or both.

MINN. STAT. 152.024.

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

Minnesota statute 152.024 outlines the three primary ways in which an individual can be charged with a fourth degree controlled substance crime:

Sale of Controlled Substances

  • Unlawful Sale: The key element here is “unlawful” sale. This means any sale not authorized by law, such as selling controlled substances without a license.
  • Schedule Levels: The type of controlled substance sold also plays a significant role. Unlawfully selling Schedule I, II, or III drugs (excluding marijuana and THC) constitutes a fourth degree crime, while selling Schedule IV or V drugs to someone under 18 or involving a minor in their sale also falls under this category.
  • Conspiracy or Employing Minors: Engaging in schemes or recruiting minors to sell Schedule IV or V drugs further expands the definition of unlawful sale under this statute.

Possession of Controlled Substances

  • Phencyclidine and Hallucinogens: Unlawful possession of ten or more dosage units of phencyclidine (PCP) or hallucinogens in packaged form qualifies as a fourth degree crime.
  • Schedule I, II, or III Substances with Intent to Sell: Possession of these controlled substances, excluding marijuana and THC, accompanied by the intent to sell them, constitutes another form of a fourth degree crime.

Understanding the Potential Penalties

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

  • Imprisonment: Up to 15 years in prison, potentially impacting career, relationships, and personal life.
  • Fines: Up to $100,000 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.

Defends to Fourth Degree Drug Crimes in Minnesota: Duluth, Hibbing, Bemidji, Moorhead, Grand Rapids, and Statewide

Navigating the intricate legalities of a fourth 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 Intent

In cases involving possession with intent to sell, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to distribute the controlled substances. Challenging the sufficiency of evidence on this crucial element can be key to building a strong defense.

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.

Worried About a Fourth Degree Controlled Substance Crime in Your Life? What You Can Do.

Whether facing charges yourself or supporting someone navigating this complex legal hurdle, the fear and uncertainty surrounding a fourth-degree controlled substance crime are understandable. Here are some actionable steps you can take to protect yourself and navigate this situation:

Tips for Those Facing Charges for Fourth Degree Drug Crimes

  1. Seek legal counsel immediately: Contacting a Duluth criminal defense lawyer is crucial. An experienced attorney can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and build a strong defense on your behalf. Remember, exercising your right to remain silent is paramount until you have consulted with a lawyer.
  2. Gather evidence: If possible, document any events or details that might support your case, such as witness statements or proof of prescription medications. However, avoid tampering with evidence or engaging in any illegal activity.
  3. Follow court orders: Attend all court hearings and comply with any release conditions set by the judge.Disobeying orders can worsen your situation.
  4. Stay informed: Keep yourself updated on the progress of your case and developments in the law. Your lawyer will be your primary source of information, but staying informed allows you to ask informed questions and participate actively in your defense.
  5. Seek support: Facing a criminal charge can be emotionally draining. Surround yourself with supportive individuals and consider seeking professional mental health assistance if needed.

If Supporting Someone Facing Charges for a Fourth Degree Drug Crime in Minnesota: Here’s How to Help

  1. Offer emotional support: Be a source of strength and understanding. This is a difficult time for the person facing charges, and your unwavering support can make a significant difference.
  2. Encourage seeking legal counsel: Advocate for them to connect with a qualified Duluth criminal defense lawyer. Remember, they have the right to legal representation, and an attorney can guide them through the legal complexities and protect their rights.
  3. Avoid giving legal advice: While offering emotional support, refrain from providing legal counsel. Leave that to the qualified professionals.
  4. Respect their decisions: While you can offer guidance and suggestions, ultimately, the person facing charges must make their own decisions regarding their legal strategy. Respect their choices and support them throughout the process.
  5. Connect them with additional resources: Depending on the situation, they might need help with addiction treatment, mental health support, or financial assistance. Research and identify relevant resources in your community and encourage them to seek help.

Remember, facing a fourth degree controlled substance crime charge is not a definitive end. By taking proactive steps, seeking legal counsel, and maintaining a supportive network, you can navigate this challenging situation and strive for the best possible outcome.

Seeking Treatment: A Powerful Tool in Navigating a Fourth-Degree Controlled Substance Crime Charge

While facing a criminal charge can be overwhelming, it can also be a turning point. For individuals struggling with substance abuse, a fourth-degree controlled substance crime charge can present a stark but crucial opportunity to confront their addiction and seek help. Embracing treatment during this challenging time can not only benefit your personal well-being but also play a significant role in your legal case.

Here’s How Seeking Treatment Can Be Strategically Valuable in Your Defense

  1. Demonstrates Proactive Steps: Taking initiative to address your addiction through treatment showcases a genuine commitment to rehabilitation and change. This proactive approach can positively influence the judge’s perception of your remorse and willingness to take responsibility.
  2. Undermines 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 actively addressing your personal struggles, you demonstrate a focus on recovery, potentially contradicting the intent to distribute drugs.
  3. Supports Alternative Sentencing: Judges often look favorably upon defendants who are 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. Builds a Support Network: Treatment programs connect you with resources, support groups, and professionals who can help you stay on track with your recovery journey. This support network can become a valuable source of strength and accountability throughout your legal proceedings.
  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: Treatment After Fourth Degree Drug Charges in Duluth, MN

Seeking treatment doesn’t have to wait for a court order. Numerous resources and programs are available, many offering confidential services and support. Your lawyer can help you explore options based on your individual needs and budget. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength and courage, not weakness.

By actively engaging in treatment, you not only contribute to your personal well-being but also equip yourself with valuable tools to navigate the legal challenges ahead. This proactive approach can demonstrate your commitment to change, potentially influence the outcome of your case, and most importantly, pave the way for a healthier and brighter future.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fourth 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 not fall under the specific thresholds for a fourth degree crime, other charges related to possession or paraphernalia offenses might still be applicable. Consulting a lawyer to understand the specific charges filed against you 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.

What happens if I can’t afford a lawyer?

If you cannot afford a private lawyer, you have the right to a court-appointed public defender. While public defenders are dedicated to representing their clients, their caseloads can be extensive, limiting the time they can devote to each individual case. Hiring an experienced private lawyer ensures personalized attention, dedicated strategies, and a deeper understanding of your specific circumstances.

Should I cooperate with the police investigation?

While cooperating with the police may seem like the right thing to do, it’s crucial to exercise caution. Speaking with a lawyer first can help you understand your rights and determine the best course of action to protect your interests.

What is the difference between a fourth degree and a fifth-degree controlled substance crime?

The primary difference lies in the type and quantity of drugs involved, along with the intent to sell. Fifth-degree offenses typically involve smaller amounts of less severe drugs or possession without intent to sell. However, the specific distinctions can be complex, and consulting a lawyer to understand the specific charges against you is essential.

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.

How can I get help with drug addiction?

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. Your lawyer can guide you towards appropriate resources and advocate for treatment options alongside your legal defense.

The Importance of Seeking Legal Guidance in a Duluth, Minnesota Fourth Degree Drug Case

Navigating the legal complexities of a fourth degree controlled substance crime charge in Minnesota can be overwhelming and daunting. An experienced Duluth criminal defense lawyer can be your invaluable advocate throughout this challenging process. By providing sound legal advice, building a strong defense, and protecting your rights, your lawyer can significantly increase your chances of achieving the best possible outcome in your case. Remember, you are not alone in facing this situation. Seeking legal counsel is the first step towards protecting your future and ensuring a fair and just resolution.

If you or someone you know is facing a fourth degree controlled substance crime charge in Minnesota, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Duluth criminal defense lawyer.