Minnesota drug crime defense
By Thomas C. Gallagher, Drug Defense Attorney
Historical anomaly: At common law, before the 20th Century, drug possession and 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 Prohibition laws are still enforced in Minnesota.
What is at stake?
First time charges: For people with no prior criminal record, avoiding a conviction can avoid a substantial loss in annual income due to employment background checks.
Prior convictions: For people facing long incarceration terms, the goal may be to reduce or avoid a lengthy jail or prison sentence. A criminal conviction record can also lead to becoming a victim of housing discrimination.
We also need to consider Mandatory minimum sentencing statutes and the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines (prison commitments).
Need for a drug defense attorney: With all that at stake, a person facing a charge needs the best drug defense attorney he or she can find. A good drug defense attorney knows the types of cases, defenses, pretrial defense motions, and trial defenses and issues. In addition, the best drug defense attorneys have significant experience slugging it out in the courts of Minnesota.
Types of drug crime cases
Criminal charges in Minnesota frequently concern marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other opiates, methamphetamine, non-prescribed prescription drugs, and others. They generally claim either knowing possession or sale.
Prosecutors charge sale crimes as felonies. They can charge illegal possession as a felony, gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor or even a petty misdemeanor, depending on the substance and quantity. Misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors involve plant-form marijuana only.
Though most drug crime defense cases are in Minnesota state courts, some are prosecuted in federal court. Federal prosecutors tend to charge larger cases, harder drugs, and large drug conspiracy cases.
Minnesota Statutes Chapter 152 contains most of Minnesota’s drug crimes. It labels most “Controlled Substance Crime” in the First through Fifth degrees. A First Degree Controlled Substance crime carries the most severe penalty.
Factors that make a Minnesota crimes more or less severe include:
- Possession or sale
- Identity of the substance
- Location and proximity
As a result, the prosecution has the burden of showing evidence to prove these factors. Therefore a drug defense attorney can defend cases on one or more of them.
Take possession for example. Criminal possession is (1) knowing; and (2) the accused must have “dominion and control” over the contraband. The prosecutor has the burden of proving that. The accused starts out presumed innocent. The drug defense attorney must prevent the prosecutor from overcoming that presumption of innocence. The law requires the jury to resolve even one reasonable doubt in favor of the accused.
What can be done?
Before trial: Some defenses can result in a complete win for the defense before trial. Other defenses approaches may succeed in eliminating evidence or improving the opportunities for winning a jury trial. These types of defense are raised by your drug defense attorney in pretrial motions before a judge at a Contested Omnibus Hearing.
Partial defenses: Another category of defenses attacks the more severe charges, often unfairly exaggerated by the prosecution.
Trial defenses: Defenses at trial provide the jury an opportunity to acquit the accused of one or more charges.
Sentencing defenses: And some defenses apply to sentencing rather than criminal liability.
Pretrial Defense Motions
- Involuntary Statements
- Confessions in Violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
- Statements in Violation of State v Scales, 518 N.W.2d 587 (Minn. 1994) (police recording required)
- Statements in Violation of Right to Legal Counsel
And Your drug defense attorney will consider pretrial motions to suppress evidence obtained by:
- Illegal Search Warrant
- Unlawful Arrest
- Illegal Warrantless Search, including persons, bodily fluids, cavity searches, automobiles, homes, buildings, containers
Trial defenses and issues
Your drug defense attorney will identify and raise trial issues including:
- 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 substance 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 substance?
- Informant Incredibility. Coached, paid, scared — prosecution sock-puppets. What coerced informant can be believed about anything?
- Entrapment and Sentencing-Entrapment. Would the crime have happened but-for government conduct? Or, did police pressure the defendant into a larger quantity than ever before?
- Jury Nullification. The jury has the legal power to acquit, bring a not-guilty verdict, regardless of the law or facts.
Experienced Drug Defense Attorney
Minnesota drug defense attorney Thomas C Gallagher has defended people from drug charges since 1988 — more than 30 years experience.
Gallagher has experience using defense experts to analyze forensic evidence of alleged substance identity and quantity.
Thomas Gallagher has experience working cases involving drug crimes investigators, detectives, and multi-jurisdictional drug task forces.
We can challenge the government’s case and put it to the test. With experience, thought and persistent effort, winning is possible.
You can now call Drug Defense Attorney Thomas Gallagher to personally review your criminal case at: 612 333-1500
Gallagher has successfully defended clients charged with drug crimes in Minnesota for decades.
Would you like to put his experience to work for you?