top of page
  • Writer's picturePeter Lindstrom, Esq.

Defending Against 5th Degree Controlled Substance Charges in Minnesota

In this blog, I aim to shed light on what 5th degree controlled substance charges entail, the potential consequences, and the crucial defense strategies that can be employed to navigate this treacherous terrain.

Understanding 5th Degree Controlled Substance Charges:

1. Definition and Scope: In Minnesota, a 5th degree controlled substance charge is typically the least severe charge related to the possession or sale of illegal drugs. However, 'least severe' does not imply inconsequential. This charge often covers possession of small amounts of controlled substances, unauthorized possession of prescription drugs, or the sale of a minimal amount of a controlled substance.

2. Controlled Substances: The substances that can lead to these charges are varied, including but not limited to marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and certain prescription medications without a valid prescription.

Potential Consequences:

1. Legal Repercussions: The consequences of a conviction for a 5th degree controlled substance charge can be severe. Individuals may face penalties including jail time, hefty fines, or both. The exact sentence often depends on the specific circumstances of the case, including the type and amount of the substance involved.

2. Long-Term Impact: Beyond the immediate legal penalties, a conviction can have long-lasting effects on a person’s life. It can impact employment opportunities, housing options, and educational prospects.

Defense Strategies:

As a criminal defense attorney, it's my job to explore every possible avenue to defend my clients. Here are some strategies that might be employed:

1. Questioning the Evidence: One of the primary defense strategies involves closely scrutinizing the evidence presented by the prosecution. This includes examining how the controlled substance was discovered and seized. If there are any procedural errors or violations of constitutional rights, such as illegal search and seizure, it could lead to the dismissal of the charges.

2. Challenging the Intent: In some cases, it might be possible to argue that the defendant did not have the intent to possess or sell the controlled substance. This can be particularly relevant in cases of unauthorized possession of prescription drugs.

3. Substance Analysis: Questioning the nature and amount of the substance found is another defense route. Ensuring that proper testing was conducted and that the results are accurate is essential for a fair trial.

4. Diversion Programs and Plea Bargaining: For first-time offenders or in cases with extenuating circumstances, exploring diversion programs or plea deals might be a viable option. These alternatives can sometimes offer a path to rehabilitation and a lesser sentence.


Facing 5th degree controlled substance charges in Minnesota can be an overwhelming and daunting experience. However, it’s important to remember that a charge is not a conviction. As a criminal defense attorney, my role is to dissect each aspect of the case, protect the rights of my clients, and strive for the most favorable outcome. If you or someone you know is facing such charges, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is crucial. With the right defense strategy, it’s possible to navigate these charges and move towards a positive resolution.


bottom of page