5th Degree Drug Charges

In Minnesota, drug crimes are divided into five different degrees and the degree will primarily depend on the amount, and whether the drug was being manufactured or offered for sale. 5th degree controlled substance crimes are the only level that may be charged a gross misdemeanor, depending on the drug and quantity of drug in question. The charges are for sale and/or possession of drugs, and require the best criminal defense possible to avoid or mitigate penalties and jail time.


You may be charged with felony 5th degree drug crime for the sale of marijuana or mixtures of drugs containing marijuana, or for the sale of Schedule IV controlled substances.

If this is your first drug offense you may be charged with only a gross misdemeanor 5th degree drug crime for:

  • Possession of 42.5 grams or more of marijuana
  • Possession of less than .25 grams of cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, or related drugs
  • Possession of less than .05 grams of heroin or related drugs

Greater quantities of drugs other than marijuana will be charged as felonies.


The potential penalties for felony 5th degree drug crimes are imprisonment of not more than five years or a payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. Gross misdemeanor 5th degree drug crimes are not nearly as severe, with jail time not exceeding one year. In addition to this jail time, any property that may have been used to commit the crime may be forfeited. You may lose your car, cash, or any other property associated with the crime.

Long term consequences can be just as harsh. You will find it much more difficult to find employment, housing options may be greatly limited, and it will be nearly impossible to attain any form of financial aid if you would attempt to move on with your life. If you are convicted of felony 5th degree drug charges you will lose any legal right to possess a firearm and voting privileges.

Methods of Defense Against Drug Charges

North Star Criminal Defense will prepare a defense on your behalf that has the goal of having the charges dismissed or at least reduced to mitigate the penalties. Whether you are a first time offender or have previous drug convictions, we will use the following methods in your defense:

  • Analyzing the chain of evidence of the drugs and other items involved in the crime
  • Assessing whether the arrest, investigation and acts by law enforcement complied with due process and other Constitutional protections.
  • Whether you were directly involved in the possession or sale of the drugs, or simply present in the vicinity with no intent or plan to participate
  • Demonstrating your personal and professional credibility to argue for dismissal or reduction of charges

Case Results

To see just how successful our approach is, here are some representative case results:

State v. D.J.

Charge: 5th Degree Drum Crime, Obstructing Legal Process

Resolution: Diversion program. We are often approached by clients who have made an initial appearance in court, expecting a soft landing, who have been advised they don't qualify for diversion, or another favorable program to resolve their matter. In this instance, a patient approach with a thoughtful prosecutor resulted in a late-admission into diversionary outcome that was utterly unavailable at arraignment. These sorts of outcomes quite literally make our month.

State v. P.P.

Charge: Felony 5th Degree Drug Crime - Possession

Resolution: Case dismissed. Mr. Gempeler successfully raised the immunity defense during pre-trial negotiations. The client was only discovered due to a possible overdose. A new statute grants immunity to those that need immediate medical assistance. Through careful research and investigation, Mr. Gempeler had this defense ready for a contested hearing, prior to the County dismissing the case entirely.

North Star Criminal Defense - Proven Success in Fighting Drug Charges

The Minnesota drug crime lawyers at North Star Criminal Defense have over 30 combined years of successfully defending drug charges of all degrees and throughout multiple jurisdictions, including federal courts in multiple states. We know the law, the defenses, and the strategy necessary in order to obtain resolutions that avoid convictions and jail time. We have helped countless clients overcome these debilitating charges and get back on their feet. If you have been accused of any type of drug crime, you need to contact us right away.