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Commonly referred to as "meth" or "crystal meth," methamphetamine is a controlled substance listed under Schedule II of the federal government's Controlled Substance Act. The possession, use, sale, or manufacture of crystal meth is illegal in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.
The manufacture of meth is so dangerous, and the drug presents such a danger to communities, that most jurisdictions outlawed the possession of even the chemicals and paraphernalia used in its manufacture.
Most health officials consider America to be in a meth epidemic, leading to increasingly severe penalties for possession convictions.
What is Crystal Meth?
Unlike plant-based narcotics such as marijuana and cocaine, methamphetamine is a manmade substance, created from a variety of chemicals. It derives its nickname, crystal meth, from its rock-like appearance.
The process to create crystal meth includes explosive, noxious chemicals, making its manufacture extremely dangerous. Explosions and fires are not uncommon, and often affect structures far beyond the meth lab. In addition, the chemicals used are so toxic, that the building used as the lab is often torn down because it's a less expensive solution than trying to detoxify and refurbish the building.
What is Possession of Crystal Meth?
As it refers to drugs, a possession conviction requires that the state prove two criteria: knowing and possession.
To prove knowing, the prosecution must prove both that you knew the drug was present and that you had the intention of using or controlling it. This means that if you borrowed someone else's property, such as a vehicle or bag, and the drug was found in this borrowed property, the state may not be able to prove "knowing." However, the state does not need to prove that you knew the drug was a controlled substance or that controlling it was illegal. Nor does the state have to prove that you used the drug.
To prove possession, the prosecutor must demonstrate that you had physical control of the methamphetamines. This means the drug was either somewhere on your person, such as in a pocket, or held in one of your belongings, such as a bag, car, or dwelling. The state may also prove shared possession, which indicates you had partial control over the substance. This means that the substance was found in a piece of property you share with another person, such as a dwelling.
What are the Penalties for a Possession of Crystal Meth Conviction?
Many factors influence penalties for a crystal meth possession conviction, starting with whether the arresting agency was a federal or state entity. Other factors include any previous criminal history and how much of the drug you are charged with possessing. For example, if you are charged with possessing a substantial amount of meth, the charge is typically possession with intent to sell or distribute, a much more serious charge than if you are charged with possession for personal use. Methamphetamine possession is nearly always charged as a felony, but even here penalties vary widely. Some states prefer to offer first offenders probation and court-ordered drug treatment plus probation.
If the arresting officer is with a federal agency, the minimum prison sentence for any amount over 5 grams is five years, with a maximum sentence of 40 years. Convictions for amounts in excess of 50 grams carry a minimum sentence of 10 years, with a maximum sentence of life. Federal possession convictions nearly always carry a jail sentence due to the fed's stance that crystal meth is an extremely dangerous drug.
State Penalties for a Crystal Meth Possession Conviction
States carry different penalties for meth depending on a number of factors, including whether that state considers itself to be in the middle of a meth epidemic. Two states that demonstrate the wide disparity in penalties are Oregon and Texas.
- Oregon classifies meth possession as a class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $100,000 in fines. A plea agreement may allow you to avoid incarceration completely.
- Texas has much stricter penalties, which rise along with the amount of meth you are convicted of possessing. At the low end, possession of less than 1 gram carries a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. The high end is possession of 400 or more grams, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of 99 years, and a $100,000 fine.
Schedule a Free Consultation
If you face crystal meth possession charges, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney, preferably one with a background fighting drug charges. Schedule a free consultation today to discuss your case and determine your next steps.