While a drug charge in the fifth degree is the lowest degree of drug charges you can face, it doesn’t make them any less serious. Fifth degree drug charges can still be a felony that can stay on your record for a lifetime not to mention result in some serious jail time. This means that just because you are being charged in the fifth degree doesn’t mean you should take it any less seriously than a drug charge in the first degree.
What Classifies as a Drug Charge in the Fifth Degree?
Drug charges in the fifth degree includes possession of a minimum of 42.5 grams of marijuana or 0.25 grams of controlled substances like cocaine, heroin, morphine, peyote, opium, codeine, methadone, mescaline, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, methamphetamine, ecstasy, PCP, and prescription drugs without a prescription. Depending on the amount in your possession, these fifth degree drug charges can be gross misdemeanor or felony charge. Usually the charge will remain as a gross misdemeanor if you have 0.25 grams or less of illegal drugs in your possession with the exception of heroin that is capped at 0.05 grams. Anything above will be considered a felony charge in Minnesota.
Penalties for a Fifth Degree Drug Charge
Although the punishments for a fifth degree drug charge are the least severe, they are still not desirable. The maximum penalty for first time offenders is a maximum of five years in prison or $10,000. For repeat offenders, this is raised to 10 years in prison or $20,000 in fines. While those are the harshest penalties, even lenient ones are not particularly desirable. In order to avoid them, you need not only a good attorney, but a good defense strategy.
Common Defenses for Fifth Degree Drug Charges
As with any case, defenses can vary depending on the very specific situation of you case. This is why you will want to consult with your lawyer on the best defense strategy before you head to court. However, some common defenses to consider include:
- Legal Possession – Police officers will often arrest people on possession if they do not have evidence of a valid prescription. This is, as you would expect, most common with prescription drugs. People will often carry their prescription drugs around, but they might not always carry proof of a valid prescription with them.
- Illegal Search – In many cases, the Fourth and Fifth Amendment can be brought in to your defense in order to argue that the police violated your constitutional rights with their search. If it can be proven that the police engaged in an illegal search, the drug evidence can be suppressed. If you are facing a case that is comprised solely of drug charges, this may mean your case will be dismissed with no charges at all.
- Entrapment – This entails the police using a controlled buy in order to sting customers. Undercover cops may try to coerce people into buying drugs from them, and even after multiple denials, if they do give into pressure and buy, they are arrested. This is completely illegal, but still used because many people facing drug charges don’t realize it, thus they fail to mention it to a lawyer.
If you have been arrested on drug charges in Minneapolis, fifth degree or otherwise, your first step should be to find a competent attorney. Not only can they help your form the best defense possible, but they can make sure that your rights were not impeded on throughout the legal process. If you need a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer for your defense in Minnesota, contact us today. No matter what sort of charges you are facing down, you always have Judith Samson as an advocate in your corner.