Few drugs have a more negative reputation than methamphetamine. Accordingly, the penalties for its possession can be devastating to you, your family, career, and reputation. Also known as meth, ice, crystal, crank, or tina, methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that also gives the user an intense sensation of euphoria. The problem is, the chronic use of methamphetamine causes debilitating physical and psychological issues ranging from heart issues and so-called meth mouth to severe paranoia and withdrawal symptoms.
Nowadays, methamphetamine is prescribed for weight loss and ADHD under only limited circumstances owing to the drug’s addictive properties and dangerous side effects. Since it has accepted medical uses, methamphetamine is considered a schedule II substance under federal law. But under Texas law, it is a category 1 substance alongside cocaine and heroin. Thus, a conviction for possession carries very serious penalties. But you may be able to avoid some or all of these penalties if you act fast and hire a skilled Houston meth possession lawyer to handle your defense.
What Are the Consequences of a Conviction for Meth Possession?
According to the Texas Health Code section 1481.115, you may face the following penalties if you get convicted of knowingly possessing methamphetamine:
- Less than 1 gram–State jail felony punishable by 180 days to 2 years in prison and $10,000 in fines
- Between 1 and 3.99 grams–Felony of the third degree involving a 2 to 10-year prison sentence and fines reaching $10,000
- Between 4 grams and 199 grams–Felony of the second degree carrying a sentence of 2 to 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines
- Between 200 and 399 grams–Felony of the first degree punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison along with fines that can reach $10,000
- 400 grams or more–Enhanced felony of the first degree punishable by 20 years to life in prison and fines of up to $100,000
In determining which offense level to charge you with, the prosecutor will look at the aggregate amount of drugs you allegedly had in your possession, which includes diluents. For example, if you have 5 grams of meth that is actually 30% Epsom salt, you will still be charged with a second-degree felony–even if the amount of actual meth you possessed (3.5 grams) would put you in the third-degree felony category.
In addition to the prison sentences and fines outlined above, a conviction for meth possession may involve other negative consequences, including:
- Court costs
- Probation requirements
- Court-mandated drug treatment at your own expense
- Community service
- Revoked right to own firearms
- Limited right to vote
- Restricted access to employment and educational opportunities because of your criminal record
For these reasons, you should avoid getting a conviction for methamphetamine possession at all costs. Do not plead guilty unless an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer has counseled you to do so and secured a plea agreement with the prosecuting attorney. No matter how helpless your case may seem to you, there may be ways to effectively invalidate the charges.
How Can Ned Barnett Defend Against My Meth Possession Charges?
Every drug possession case is different, but there are several defense strategies that often apply in these cases. Depending on the circumstances, a Houston meth possession lawyer might attempt to:
- Exclude the prosecutor’s evidence–If the police seized the methamphetamine after conducting an illegal search of your person, vehicle, or property, your lawyer can file a motion to suppress the evidence. If successful, the judge will order that all evidence obtained from the illegal search and seizure be removed from the case.
- Request the dismissal of the charges–When the motion to suppress is successful, the prosecutor will be lacking the evidence necessary to prove your guilt even before the trial starts. In such cases, your lawyer would file a motion to dismiss the charges.
- Rebut the prosecutor’s arguments at trial–The prosecutor’s duty is to prove every element of the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Your lawyer may be able to show that there is a reasonable possibility that you did not know that you had methamphetamine, or show that the lab reports do not conclusively show that you had an illegal drug on your person.
- Argue an affirmative defense–This means admitting that you knowingly possessed methamphetamine, but they you were justified in doing so. Although rare, some people use methamphetamine medically on the authority of a doctor’s prescription. If this applies to you, you cannot be convicted of illegal methamphetamine possession.
- Negotiate a beneficial plea deal—Some meth possession cases are resolved through a plea agreement. Your lawyer may get the prosecutor to agree to a light sentence if you plead guilty. If you are a first time offender, it may be possible to avoid jail time entirely if you agree to enroll in a court-supervised drug rehabilitation program.
If you’re facing the uncertainty and stress of a methamphetamine possession charge, Ned Barnett is ready to help. As a Houston criminal defense attorney with over 20 years of experience, Attorney Barnett is uniquely qualified to give your case a thorough defense that can lead to a positive resolution.