From cocaine and heroin to cannabis and prescription medication, drug possession charges are serious in Minnesota. Possession of small amounts of a Schedule I, II, III, or IV controlled substance is considered felony offense, punishable by a maximum five-year prison sentence and a fine no larger than $10,000. Not only do you face spending a long time behind bars, but also having a permanent criminal record that can negatively affect your personal life and professional reputation.
If you have been charged with drug possession, it is crucial to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights, reputation, and freedom. Your attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your arrest, determine all available defense strategies, and build an effective case to help you get your charges dismissed or reduced.
Common defenses for a drug possession charge include:
- Unlawful search and seizure – Challenging how the evidence of the alleged criminal offense was obtained is a strong defense strategy. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you against unlawful search and seizure. If an officer fails to establish probable cause or obtain a valid search warrant prior to your arrest, any evidence collected by police could be inadmissible in a courtroom, which could lead to a dismissal of your entire case.
- The drugs aren’t yours – Another common argument against drug possession charges is to claim the drugs belong to another person or you had no idea they were in your possession. For example, if you borrow your friend’s car to run errands and a police officer discovers a small amount of drugs in the glove compartment. If this is the case, your attorney could prove that the drugs didn’t belong to you.
- Not drugs – Illicit substances are always sent to the crime lab for further analysis. Additionally, the crime lab technician must show that the drugs are what they appear to be in the courtroom. However, if the seized substance is proven to be something else, your entire case can be dismissed.
- Missing drugs – If the prosecutors are not able to produce the actual drugs involved in the alleged criminal offense at trial, then there is no case. Your lawyer can make sure the alleged substances make an appearance in court. From the arrest to the crime lab to the courtroom, seized drugs typically get transferred many times during the legal process.
- You are a medical marijuana patient – Minnesota has legalized the use of medical marijuana. If the substance involved in the possession charge is cannabis and you have a valid prescription from a certified health care professional, you and your lawyer may be able to demonstrate the medical necessity of the substance.
- Police misconduct – From entrapment to drugs being planted, any form of police misconduct occurs during the criminal investigation, the case could be thrown out.