Minnesota residents who are charged with possessing controlled substances like cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine can face stiff penalties, and they could also face criminal charges for owning or distributing items that are used to process or consume drugs. Police can charge individuals with possessing drug paraphernalia even when no illegal substances are found. Examples of drug paraphernalia include pipes, bongs, roach clips and freebase cocaine kits.
In Minnesota, possessing drug paraphernalia is considered a petty misdemeanor and is usually punished by a small fine. Individuals face more serious penalties when they are charged with possessing items used to process or consume illegal drugs on two or more occasions. In these situations, individuals can be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000. When police officers are unsure whether or not a pipe or other item was used to consume controlled substances, forensic tests may be performed to identify suspected drug residue. However, these tests are expensive and are rarely ordered unless illegal drugs are found.
The federal laws dealing with drug paraphernalia are more comprehensive. While simply possessing these items is not a federal crime, selling or distributing drug paraphernalia is. Federal charges can also be filed when drug paraphernalia is mailed, imported or exported. Individuals convicted of selling drug paraphernalia in federal court can be fined and sentenced to up to three years in prison.
Drug paraphernalia charges are usually filed when police find controlled substances and related items during a search. In these situations, experienced criminal defense attorneys may scrutinize police reports and search warrant applications to ensure that the officers involved acted properly. When rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment may have been violated, attorneys could seek to have the items seized excluded and drug charges dismissed.