Felony Possession of Controlled Substance in Hennepin County (Minneapolis) Case Study
Charge: Felony Fifth Degree Possession of Controlled Substance 152.025.2(a)(1)
In January of 2016 my client was charged with possession of a controlled substance. He was approached by police for going off the road and hitting a fence. Drugs were found on him after he was arrested for suspicion for driving under the influence.
Client was approached by police after he slid off the road and damaged a fence. Officers believed he was drinking and performed field sobriety tests which he failed. He took a portable breath test and tested a .11. He was brought to jail where he took a Datamaster breath test which also resulted in a .11 test reading. While being booked by the officer’s prescription medications were found in his pant pockets. He was held in jail for four days and released without charges. Ultimately he was charged with DUI and driving with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. After he was convicted of an amended charge of Careless Driving he was charged by Summons and Complaint for Felony Drug Possession punishable by a maximum of 5 years in jail and/or a $10,000.00 fine.
After review of all of the reports it became apparent that the police had received a search warrant to examine the client’s medical records to see if he had a prescription to possess the drugs in question. It was determined that he did not have a valid prescription. After researching the issue it became clear that the issue was whether he could be prosecuted for the felony drug case after he had been convicted of careless driving from the same incident. It is imperative to diligently search for defenses in an effort to get cases dismissed, reduce the charge(s) or develop a strategy that allows for a positive resolution. Based on the facts it was clear that the critical issue in the case was serial prosecution or charging someone with an offense after they had already been convicted.
My client was proactive. He had already completed alcohol and drug awareness classes and had met the obligations of his careless driving conviction which I disclosed to the prosecutor. This did not excuse or provide a defense for his charge but it showed good faith to the prosecutor. At the time that the motion was pending potential settlement resolutions were discussed.
Dismissal of Charges
After diligent review and research of the issue I brought a Motion to Dismiss based on two theories. First, when a person’s conduct constitutes more than one offense the person may be punished for only one of the offenses and a conviction of one is a bar to prosecution for any other (Minnesota Statute 609.035). In other words, since he had been already convicted for careless driving he couldn’t be convicted of drug possession since they occurred in the same behavioral incident. Second, that all charges should be brought in one action (Rule 17 of Rules of Criminal Procedure) and since this didn’t occur the case should be dismissed.
Based on the motion, research of case law and statutory law the prosecutor dismissed the charges.
My client was very happy with the outcome and extremely appreciative of the second chance. The resolution (s) allowed a young person to maintain his employment and housing and keep a felony conviction off of his record. It is critical to look closely at the facts of every case and then research areas that could provide a defense for your client. It is also important to get to know your client’s background and personal issues to bolster your negotiating stance. By being proactive, researching the issues and having your client satisfying many concerns prior to the case conclusion enhanced the potential of the prosecutor looking favorably at the argument and ultimately dismissing the charges.
Most clients don’t realize how important it is to have a clean criminal record and particularly no felony convictions on their record. Employment, housing, voting, loans, possession of firearms, immigration, etc. are all areas that can be restricted or prohibited if a felony conviction is placed on your record. It is imperative to contact an attorney immediately upon getting charged with any criminal offense and specifically a felony offense to determine whether it is possible to resolve the case or dismiss the case in an attempt to keep a criminal conviction off of your record. In this case being diligent and researching the critical issues led to dismissal.