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Issues Related to Minnesota Drug Crimes

Index

Intent to Sell

Possession

Stops and Searches

Diversionary Programs


Intent to Sell

Q. The police arrested me and found some drugs I bought for personal use and charged me with possession for sale. Can they do that?

The law does not require the police to prove you sold drugs in the past. They must only demonstrate that it was you "intent" to sell drugs. This is accomplished based on the individual fact circumstances of each case. Some factors that may be used to support the charge include:

  • Amount - A larger amount of drugs is less likely to be for personal use;

  • Packaging - If the drugs are packaged in increments which may be sold to separate people, it more likely to be "packaged for sale"

  • Paraphernalia - Items found with the drugs such as baggies, scales, knives, production chemicals, address books, sales records or other materials may be used to demonstrate and intent to sell.

Possession

Q. I live with four other people in college housing. We share a living room, bathroom, kitchen but have our own bedrooms. The police arrived with a warrant for one roommate and searched the whole hose. When the found some marijuana, they arrested all of us and charged us with possession. The police said it was "JOINT POSSESSION" because we are all on the lease. Should I plead guilty?

No, you should not enter a guilty plea. There is a very big difference between "common" areas and "private" areas. If the drugs were hidden in the kitchen for example and one of your roommates has a criminal history of possessing that particular drug, you may be found not guilty. If it was found in a roommate’s room, you should not have been charged. You should contact a lawyer immediately.

Q. My friend gave me a drive across town. It was his car. The police pulled him over and found methamphetamines in the ashtray and charged both of us with possession. Can they do that?

There is a common misconception that the owner of the house or vehicle is in control of any drugs found. POSSESSION is the ability to control the drug. One or more persons may have possession at the same time. As a result the police will arrest any person with ready access to the drugs. In such cases, an aggressive defense is necessary.

Stops and Searches

Q. I was stopped by a traffic cop for a broken tail light and, without permission. He searched the car and found pot in trunk. The police report said the cop knew I had drugs because he saw seeds on the floor in "plain view." Can they use the drugs in the trunk as evidence.

Not if you assume the fact that he did see the seeds. That would give him "probable cause" to search for drugs elsewhere. But did he seize any seeds from the floor to mark into evidence? Do you dispute his claim that there were seeds on the floor? If so, your lawyer might attack his testimony on the lack of physical evidence. In addition, there is the issue of whether you KNEW the drugs were in the trunk. You should see a lawyer. Any drug case has many issues that can determine whether you get convicted or the case dismissed.

Q. I was stopped by a traffic cop who said that the he knew we were smoking pot because my friend had a cigar that he recognized as blunt, Can he do that?

A blunt is a cigar or cigarette that is packed with illegal drugs such as marijuana. Often the police will use "there skill and experience" to claim that thy can recognize an illegal substance from an impossible range. Such claims are not very credible and the charges may often be thrown out for lack of probable cause.

Diversionary Programs

Q. I was arrested for possession of cocaine. Can I avoid having a conviction on my record?

Most Minnesota counties have diversionary programs to help first offenders and persons addicted to drugs. As part of that program, the defendant must participate in drug counseling, random urinalysis tests, seek employment for a probationary period. If you complete the program, the charges may be dismissed and a conviction will not appear on your criminal record. Whether or not you should enter into the diversion program should be discussed very carefully with a lawyer.

 

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