Minimum Drug Sentences

According to the Minnesota Department of Corrections, there are over 10,000 adult inmates imprisoned through the state. With nearly 20% of these inmates being imprisoned for drug offenses, it is understandable why the state of Minnesota looked to reform mandatory drug sentencing by diverting taxpayer money to drug treatment programs instead of incarceration.

As the first law to implement major changes in drug offense sentencing in the past 30 years, Minnesota’s 2016 Drug Reform Act. As such, it is estimated that the new law will make more than 700 beds available and save the state upwards of $12 million annually.

Facing drug-related charges in Minnesota is still a serious matter that could not only result in costly fines, but prison time could still result in spite of the changes to sentencing guidelines.

If you are facing criminal allegations stemming from a drug-related offense, you need a Dakota County criminal defense attorney privy to the changes that took place in Minnesota’s drug sentencing legislation.

Drug Sentencing Lawyer in Minnesota

Although certain drug offenses are now penalized differently throughout the state of Minnesota, being arrested for such an offense is a still a serious matter and could potentially jeopardize your freedom.

Attorney James Blumberg is a criminal defense attorney that diligently remains up-to-date on legal issues, including the changes made by the 2016 Drug Reform Act. As a former prosecutor, James Blumberg is especially knowledgeable about the tactics and strategies used by the prosecution in drug offense cases, including possession of a controlled substance, cocaine possession, and drug trafficking.

With an office located in Apple Valley, Minnesota, James Blumberg Law is able to provide superb representation to those accused of drug crimes in Eagan, St. Paul, Mendota Heights, Lakeville, and the remainder of Dakota County.

Contact James Blumberg Law at (952) 431-7758 or submit an online contact form to have your case reviewed by a talented Minnesota criminal defense attorney and discover how the drug reform act will affect your case.

Minimum Drug Sentences Information Center

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Changes to Drug Sentencing Guidelines in Minnesota

In a drastic change to Minnesota criminal law, legislatures, law enforcement, prosecutors, and county attorneys crafted a proposal that essentially altered the manner in which the state would sentence drug offenders.

With a unanimous decision reached by the Minnesota Legislature and later signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton, SF 3481 reduced the minimum sentence for low-level offenders in an effort to focus on treating Minnesotans suffering from drug addiction as opposed to solely punishing them.

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Presumptive Sentencing in Apple Valley, Minnesota

Prior to the 2016 Drug Reform Act, Minnesota followed a system they helped innovate, known as “presumptive sentencing”. Under the presumptive sentencing model, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission would recommend sentences for various drug-related offenses, which would later be presented to the Minnesota legislative body for approval and then passed into law.

Pursuant to Minnesota’s drug offender grid, felony level controlled substance crimes were classified into five categories, first-degree through fifth-degree. First-degree controlled substance offenses carried the most severe penalties, up to a 30-year prison sentence and $1,000,000 fine for a first-time offender, and a fifth-degree offense would still pack a hefty punch by imposing up to five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

Prior to the Drug Reform Act taking effect on August 1, 2016, minimal changes were made to Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines.

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Drug Sentencing Changes in Minnesota

One major distinction between the antiquated drug sentencing laws of Minnesota and the laws that took effect via the 2016 Drug Reform Act are the harsher penalties established for criminal offenses committed with “aggravating factors“, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • The defendant having a prior controlled substance conviction within the prior 10 years,
  • The defendant or the defendant’s accomplice possessing a firearm during the commission of the offense,
  • The defendant performing a drug transaction across Minnesota’s state borders, or
  • The defendant bringing a controlled substance into the state of Minnesota

In addition, the policy change essentially abolished mandatory prison sentences for most controlled substance offenses other than first-degree and second-degree offenses involving certain aggravating factors. Some of the statutory changes made by the 2016 Drug Reform Act include:

  • A mandatory minimum prison sentence of 86 months for a first-degree offense committed with a firearm,
  • The threshold for a first-degree offense involving the sale of cocaine or meth raised from 10 grams to 17 grams,
  • The threshold for a first-degree offense involving the sale of marijuana reduced from 50 kilograms to 25 kilograms,
  • The mandatory sentence for a first-degree possession offense reduced from 7 years to roughly 5 years,
  • The mandatory minimum prison sentences for third degree, fourth degree, and fifth-degree convictions vacated, and
  • Non-violent fourth-degree and fifth-degree offenders would qualify for early release and conditional release

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Minimum Sentences for Drug Offenses in Minnesota

Prison sentences in the state of Minnesota vary vastly based on the degree of the convicted offense. In addition, certain controlled substance offenses impose a mandatory prison sentence that can not be waived and must be served.

The minimum terms of imprisonment that can be imposed on a person convicted of a controlled substance offense include the following:

  • A Subsequent Second Degree controlled substance felony is punishable by a minimum of 36 months imprisonment.
  • A Subsequent First Degree controlled substance felony is punishable by a minimum of 48 months imprisonment.
  • The Sale of over 99 grams of a controlled substance is punishable by a minimum of 65 months imprisonment.
  • The Sale of over 499 doses of a controlled substance is punishable by a minimum of 65 months imprisonment.
  • An Aggravated First Degree controlled substance offenses involving a firearm is punishable by imprisonment for a mandatory minimum of 86 months.

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Minnesota Resources for Drug Sentencing

2016 Drug Reform Act of Minnesota – Visit the official website of Minnesota’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission to view the revisions made to Minnesota’s drug sentencing criteria that went into effect statewide on August 1, 2016.

2016 Minnesota Sentencing Guideline – The Minnesota Guidelines and Commentary help illustrate the new sentencing policies that took effect in Minnesota on August 1, 2016, in an effort to reduce disparity by helping establish consistent sentencing standards throughout the various court of this state.

Unanimous Approval of Drug Sentencing Reformation –The StarTribune is an online media company that provides comprehensive analyses of news affecting Minnesotans, including the changes made via the 2016 Drug Reform Act and the multiple ways the policy change will affect alleged drug offenders.

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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Apple Valley, Minnesota

Even though the guidelines for drug sentencing have changed, do not take your  arrest lightly. You could still face incarceration ranging from a couple months in jail to years being spent in prison, in addition to financial hardships caused by costly fines.

Attorney James Blumberg of James Blumberg Law has evaluated Minnesota’s drug reform act and is prepared to  represent his clients facing drug-related offenses to his fullest ability. With his main office located in Apple Valley, James Blumberg Law represents clients in St. Paul, Eagan, Lakeville, Rosemount, and the remainder of Dakota County, Minnesota.

Contact James Blumberg Law at (952) 431-7758 or submit an online contact form to have your case thoroughly reviewed by a trial-proven Dakota County criminal defense attorney.

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