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Charged with petty misdemeanor - drug paraphernelia (NOT drug possession). Is there anything I can do besides pay the fine?

Minneapolis, MN |

I am in college and not looking forward to employers viewing this for the next 50 years, but I have no reason to believe expungement would be anything except expensive, time consuming, and ineffective. I have no basis to challenge the charge. Petty misdemeanors are not considered a "crime" in MN. I haven't found many questions like this that did not involve drug possession and I would like to eliminate doubt.

Attorney Answers 3


A petty midemeanor is "payable," meaning the fine can be paid without a court appearance which will result in a conviction. A failure to pay the fine or set a court date and appear will also result in a conviction (because it is "not a crime"). But, the accused can set a court date and appear in court. If you do, you can bring your lawyer, or speak to the prosecutor without a lawyer. Either way, the prosecutor can teld that you need to keep the "drug" label off your record. One good way to do that is called a "continuance for dismissal without a plea." If the prosecutors agree to that (and they sometimes will for a person with no prior record), it involves postponing (or suspending) the prosecution for some time period (often one year) upon conitions, which if met will later result in the charge being dismissed (no conviction, no guilty plea). The conditions usually include "no same or similar offenses or violations" and payment of money as prosecution costs. Though there would be a record of what happened, importantly, there would be no guilty plea, and once dismissed, no conviction.

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Mr. Gallagher is correct on his assessment of the "continuance for dismissal" scenario. That would be the best route to take. The likelihood depends a lot on the prosecutor, since he/she has to agree to this resolution as well (some prosecutors may be more likely to do so than others). The fact that you have no record really helps in negotiations with the prosecutor (whether you are speaking to him/her yourself, or whether an attorney is doing so on your behalf).

I wish you the best of luck,

Andrew Leone
Leone Legal, PA
PO Box 70
Chanhassen, MN 55317

612-356-2529 (call or text)

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I agree with my colleagues that negotiating a resolution whereby the "conviction" stays off your record is key. It's true that having a clean record will look good to the prosecutor, but it might not be enough. Depending on who the prosecutor is, the fact that you face only a petty misdemeanor might be enough reason for him/her to disagree to a continuance for dismissal. In that case, you may consider taking additional measure to convince the prosecutor. For example, going to a drug counselor or drug education class and providing proof to the prosecutor. Even though you only have a paraphernalia charge, prosecutors will often assume you also use marijuana - a logical assumption. Perhaps these extra steps are unnecessary but it's something to consider in the event the prosecutor doesn't agree to a continuance for dismissal and you otherwise have no leverage with the facts to challenge the case.

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