5th Degree Possession of Drugs Charge and Penalties
Fifth degree possession of drugs is the least severe felony drug possession crime in Minnesota. It carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine. You can be convicted of 5th degree drug possession not only by possessing controlled substances, but also by obtaining or attempting to obtain them using fraud or deceptive means, such as claiming to be a medical provider or using forged prescription documents. If the offense is a subsequent controlled substance offense for the defendant, a six-month mandatory minimum and a maximum of 10 years of prison or $20,000 fine may be imposed.
The defenses for this charge vary from case to case. Here are some common ways to avoid a possession conviction:
Illegal Search: the first area to look at is whether the police obtained the drugs lawfully. In many cases, a Fourth Amendment or Fifth Amendment challenge could be brought arguing that the police violated the defendant’s constitutional rights and that the drug evidence should be suppressed.
Legal Possession: another area to look at is whether the defendant could legally possess the substance. It is not uncommon for a police officer to charge someone with a drug crime if they do not have evidence of a prescription available. However, if a prescription can be produced, it will likely result in a dismissal of the case.
Entrapment: In cases involving a controlled buy, there may be an argument that the police conduct induced you to purchase the controlled substances. However, the elements can be difficult to show and are heavily fact-specific. A criminal defense can advise whether this defense may apply.
Stay of Adjudication and Diversion
Another program available for most first-time defendants charged with fifth-degree possession is to enter a treatment program and either have the matter diverted or receive a stay of adjudication. Diversion or a stay of adjudication can prevent a conviction from appearing on your criminal record if you comply with all requirements. This allows for an opportunity to avoid the many negative collateral consequences of having a felony drug conviction.