A southwest Minneapolis woman is facing serious felony drug charges after police say she was found lying unconscious in the grass outside a Cub Foods store in Plymouth.
Sabrina Luule Petersen, 31, is charged with two felony counts of fifth-degree drug possession, each of which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
According to the criminal complaint, signed by Plymouth Police Detective Darren McGann, police were called to the Cub Foods store in the 4400 block of Nathan Lane just after 5 p.m. Aug. 24 on a report of an unconscious woman lying on the grass with needle marks on her hand.
Police found the woman, subsequently identified as Petersen, and awakened her, and she told them that she had outstanding arrest warrants, according to the complaint. After officers confirmed the warrants, Petersen was arrested.
Officers searched Petersen and found multiple syringes, a pill identified as Klonopin – a prescription anti-seizure and anti-anxiety medication – and a plastic bag containing .3 grams of heroin, the complaint charges, or around the size of one M&M candy.
To some, though $10,000 and five years in jail could seem a bit stiff, for passing out in the grass with a little bit of drugs in your pocket. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said that not all drug charges are created equal.
"The question is, "Are they an addict or a dealer?'" Freeman said. "If they're only in possession of a small amount and there's no indication they’re selling, we try to get them into a pre-trial diversion program."
Those programs aim to help defendants "get clean," he said. If they successfully complete the year-long program, and show they've stayed off drugs, the charges disappear, he said. The potentially harsh sentence, then, functions like the "stick" to the "carrot" of a new start in the eyes of the justice system.
Freeman said the addict-dealer divide was subjective, but tends to hinge on the amount a person has on their person. If it's only enough for a day or two, prosecutors tend to see the arrestee as a user, not a dealer. Dealers, though, don't get the same kind of treatment as users, Freeman said.
"The people who sell for money—I don’t think there’s a treatment program for greed," Freeman said in a separate interview with Patch in April 2012.
Petersen has been released from custody on a $3,000 bond. An omnibus hearing in her case is scheduled Sept. 25 in Hennepin County District Court.