When Does a Drug Charge Become a Felony?

For the wide majority of drug charges, involving marijuana you will likely be looking at a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor crime. The punishments for a misdemeanor level drug charge are still very serious, and a conviction can lead to collateral consquences.  A felony drug charge can ruin your life forever with severe punishments that often don’t fit the crime.  It is important that those facing a drug charge know exactly when it will become a felony.

When Does a Misdemeanor Drug Charge Become a Felony?

There are a few factors that will elevate your drug charge. These factors include:

  • Possession v. sale of drugs
  • What type of drug was involved?
  • How much was in your possession?

Did You Intend to Sell?

As one would expect, the penalities for dealers of controlled substances are more severe than those simply possessing drugs.  However, if prosecutors cannot prove an intent to sell, you may not face a felony charge. For example, if you had just under 42.5 grams of marijuana, that is a lot of product. However, it is an amount that is within petty misdemeanor guidelines for marijuana possession.

Unfortunately, this possession can be elevated to a felony charge is they can prove that you sold or had the intent to sell. If the drug was just sitting in a brick, then that is not intent to sell. However, if it was broken up into up into baggies or even if the baggies were empty and near the drug, your intent to sell can be argued. As such, the charge would be elevated to a felony.

What Kind Of Drug Was It?

Not all illegal substances are created equal in their illegality. As mentioned above, 42.5 grams of marijuana is still a misdemeanor crime. However, if that was 42 grams of cocaine, meth, or heroin, then that would be a felony charge without question. While marijuana still comes with criminal charges, it is not viewed nearly as harsh as other substances.

The type of drug on your person is often the difference between a year in prison and 30 years in prison. Often this is more important than how much you had, as the threshold for possession is very low on harsher substances. Any more than 3 grams of cocaine, meth, or heroin, and it is a felony charge.

Fighting Felony Drug Charges

Your defense to a felony drug charge is largely dependent on what elevated it to a felony in the first place. If you were charged for possession of cocaine, then your defense does not change much from a misdemeanor drug defense. Your lawyer will work to examine the specifics of the arrest to try and unravel it. For example, if drugs were found in a car and it was not your vehicle, your lawyer could argue that those drugs were not yours and you had no knowledge they were in the car. The validity of the search can also be called into question. Law enforcement needs to comply with the 4th amendment requirements of obtaining a search warrant or have an exception to the warrant requirement (such as consent, motor vehicle exception, etc.)

If you are facing felony charges for intent to sell, then it is not the possession that necessarily needs to be fought, but the reason they elevated it to intent to sell. Ideally, your lawyer will try to unravel the possession charge as well, but a misdemeanor charge will always be preferable to a felony.

Need Help?

Are you or your son or daughter facing a drug charge in Minnesota? Whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor drug charge, we can help.  We will aggressive defend you with your charge to mitigate the impact such charge will have on you now and in your future. Contact us today to see what the Hero, Jorstad & Jacobsen Law Firm can do to help you get the best possible results for your case.