At common law, before the 20th Century, drug possession or sale were generally not crimes. These laws have a dubious history, originating in xenophobia. They undermine personal Liberty, self-determination and personal responsibility. But, today’s drug crime laws are enforced in Minnesota.
What is at stake? For people with no prior criminal record (most charged), avoiding a conviction can avoid a substantial loss in annual income due to employment background checks. For people facing long, severe incarceration terms, the goal may be to reduce or avoid a lengthy jail or prison sentence. Mandatory minimum sentencing statutes and the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines must be considered.
What can be done? Some defenses can result in a complete win for the defense before trial. Other defenses approaches may succeed in eliminating evidence or improving the opportunity for winning a jury trial. Another category of defenses attacks the more severe charges, often unfairly exaggerated by the prosecution.
Pretrial motions to suppress illegal evidence is important. These include:
- Suppress Involuntary Statements
- Suppress Confessions in Violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
- Suppress Statements in Violation of State v Scales, 518 N.W.2d 587 (Minn. 1994) (police recording)
- Suppress Statements in Violation of Right to Legal Counsel
- Suppress Evidence Obtained by an Illegal Search Warrant
- Suppress Evidence Obtained by an Illegal Warrantless Search, including persons, bodily fluids, cavity searches, automobiles, homes, buildings, containers
Trial issues may include:
- Identity. If there was a crime, what proof is the that the accused did the crime?
- Substance Identity. What proof is there that the claimed drug really is what the government claims?
- Quantity. Have the police and prosecution exaggerated the quantity to unfairly inflate the charge?
- Mixture issues. In a mixture case, is it fair to assign criminal liability when the substance is diluted?
- Conspiracy. Does the state’s conspiracy theory make any sense? What proof?
- Knowledge. What proof is there that the accused knew the substance was there?
- Dominion and Control. Have the police and prosecution exaggerated the accused’s connection to the drugs?
- Informant Incredibility. Coached, paid, scared. Puppetry. What informant can be believed about anything?
- Entrapment and Sentencing-Entrapment. Would the crime have happened but-for government conduct?
- Jury Nullification. The jury has the legal power to acquit, bring a not=guilty verdict, regardless of the law or facts.
Minnesota drug defense attorney Thomas C Gallagher has been defending people from drug-related criminal charges since 1988. Gallagher has experience using defense experts to analyze forensic evidence of alleged drug identity and quantity, as well as working cases involving drug crimes investigators, detectives, and multi-jurisdictional drug task forces.