Controlled Substance Crimes Sentencing - How to Get a Reduction in Prison Time

Minnesota’s sentencing laws used to be more penal than just, particularly in the everlasting ‘war on drugs.’ Sentencing reform in 2016 provided some help in stopping the law from being overly punitive toward controlled substance crimes sentencing. Despite this, a number of defendants with minimal to no criminal history are still being sentenced to prison. All 1st degree controlled substance convictions result in a presumed prison sentence. If a firearm is involved in the incident, there is a mandatory minimum of three years in prison. This is the case even if the firearm is a completely unrelated hunting rifle in your own house that just happened to be anywhere “near” the narcotics. And finally, even low level drug offenses can turn into prison sentences if you have a criminal history score that is high from a troubled past.

If the charges you are facing may result in prison time, you need a strategy that includes avoiding or mitigating that prison time. And one option is to request to get half off your prison sentence. Minn. Stat. § 244.0513. This option is not eligible to everyone, but it can be a lifesaver to those who use it. For example, a person who was sentenced to serve 65 months in prison for 1st degree-controlled substances crime, could not only be released after 2/3 of their served time on parole, but could use the half off statute to spend only 21.75 months in prison. The potentials to drastically reduce your sentence are available and have the ability to compound if used correctly.

But, who is eligible for this? If you are convicted of possession of a controlled substance in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree, you may be eligible. If you are convicted of sales in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree you will not be eligible. This statute is primarily geared toward users of controlled substances and not sellers. If you’re conviction is for 4th or 5th degree controlled substance crimes, there is no limitation on you requesting to get half off your prison sentence, even if your conviction was for sales.

There are numerous other qualifications you need to consider to see if you are eligible for this statute. You cannot have a prior conviction fora crime of violence within the last 10 years. If you’ve previously received half off under this statute, you cannot receive the benefits of getting half off a second time. And you must complete the prison’s chemical dependency treatment program in order for you to receive half off your sentence. Additionally, the defendant will likely be required to submit to random testing while conditionally released from prison.

Regardless if you wish to pursue this option in your controlled substance crimes sentencing, it is wise to consult a Minnesota sentencing attorney. Not every criminal defense attorney knows about this nuance. The North Star team understand this option and incorporates it into a client’s overall strategy.


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