Minnesota has some of the most complex drug laws in the country. Most jurisdictions simply tie penalties to the nature of the substance and the defendant’s conduct. Possessing marijuana is not as serious as selling cocaine. The Gopher State also has such divisions, but they are just the beginning.
In Minnesota, the penalty varies according to the presence (or absence) of certain aggravating factors. Prior criminal history is one such factor, as is possession of a dangerous weapon. Under Minnesota law, a golf club, beer bottle, or almost any other household object could be a “dangerous weapon,” at least in some cases.
The drug-free zone enhancements are perhaps the most common enhancements in Ramsey County. Pretty much every neighborhood in St. Paul has at least one such zone, at least from a prosecutor’s viewpoint. Such enhancements do not always hold up in court, as outlined below.
Ramsey County prosecutors have the burden of proof both on the underlying offense and on the enhancement provision. So, a St. Paul drug crime defense lawyer does not need to “prove” anything. Creating reasonable doubt on one element of the offense is enough.
The number of drug crime arrests has declined since the early 2000s. Increasingly, many policymakers, and many jurors as well, see such matters as a health and safety issue instead of a criminal law issue. Nevertheless, such offenses are still a mainstay on Ramsey County criminal court dockets. Drug crime laws keep many police officers busy, and the harsh penalties, mostly fines, are an important revenue source.
Regardless of the specific nature of the charges, all possession and sale cases have essentially the same elements. Prosecutors must do all of the following:
If a St. Paul drug crime defense lawyer shows there is a reasonable doubt on any of these points, or that the physical evidence was illegally seized, the defendant is not guilty as a matter of law.
This section contains two location enhancements. They only apply in limited situations, mostly the possession or sale of cocaine or methamphetamines.
First, there is the school bus enhancement. The bus must be carrying elementary or secondary school students. These students could be going to and from school or on a field trip. The enhancement applies to the bus itself, and not the bus stops.
Second, there is the correctional facility enhancement. This enhancement usually applies not only to jails and prisons, but also to probation offices. These places typically have holding cells or other such detention facilities. Generally, such places are separate from neighborhoods. So, unless the defendant was a guard or prisoner, St. Paul drug crime defense lawyers do not deal with this enhancement very often.
This provision contains the most common drug-free zone enhancements in Minnesota. Generally, these drug-free zones extend 300 feet from the property line. That’s roughly the length of a football field.
If the prosecutor has nothing to support the enhancement other than a location on Google Maps, a St. Paul drug crime defense lawyer can often convince the judge to throw out that portion of the case.
Drug crime enhancements often do not hold up in court. For a free consultation with an experienced St. Paul drug crime defense lawyer, contact Capitol City Law Group, LLC. Go online now, call us at (651) 998-7634, or stop by 287 6th St E, Suite 20, St Paul, MN 55101.