Legal Consequences of Crystal Meth
The use of methamphetamine or crystal meth has increased exponentially over the last two decades. Unlike most other controlled substances, this highly addictive drug is made exclusively with chemicals causing serious health and safety concerns for those who use and manufacture it. This has led to the State of California along with the Federal Government to enact severe legal consequences for anyone that is convicted of the manufacturing, sale, or possession of this controlled substance.
What is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is a white powdery substance that is manufactured in homemade illegal laboratories. It is a combination of the stimulant amphetamine with chemicals such as anti-freeze, drain cleaner, or battery acid. A cooking process is involved in order to extract the potent ingredients from the chemicals. The process to make crystal meth is extremely dangerous as the chemicals used are explosive and give off toxic waste in the process.
Offenses in California
California may prosecute offenders for the possession, manufacturing, sale, and trafficking of crystal meth. Legal consequences vary depending mostly on the discretion of the prosecutor and judge. With 3 years in state prison as an option for a possession offense, a person facing any of these charges is advised to hire a qualified California drug crime attorney as quickly as possible.
A defendant being charged with the criminal possession of crystal meth has been found to either have had the narcotic on his person or in a spot, which could reasonably be expected that he would be aware of. If the arresting officer feels that the narcotic is within reach of a subject, a person could be charged with the offense.
Regardless of the amount, it is up to the California prosecutor’s discretion whether to charge a subject with a misdemeanor or felony criminal possession. Factors that he or she will consider would be the defendant’s criminal history, the location of the substance when confiscated, and any other mitigating factors.
A misdemeanor conviction could result in legal consequences of up to one year in jail for the accused while the felony could be anywhere from sixteen months to three years in state prison. First time offenders are eligible for deferred judgment where the completion of a successful probation program could mean a dismissal of the charges. In addition, the participation in court-run drug programs could also help with sentencing reduction.
Depending on the circumstances, a California defense lawyer can usually work with the prosecutor in these types of cases to have the charges or the penalties reduced.
Manufacturing or Production
When it comes to the manufacture of crystal meth, California has very strict laws and penalties. A person found in any stage of the production will be charged with manufacturing even if he or she only offer to engage in the manufacture.
This is an automatic felony charge with penalties that can range from a year in county jail with probation to two, four, or six years in the state prison system. These legal consequences may be increased in the face of certain mitigating factors such as the presence of children, a death or injury, and prior drug convictions.
Persons found to be only producing the drug for their own personal use may qualify for the drug diversion program, which if completed successfully could lead to the charges being dropped.
Sale in California
When a defendant is charged with the intent to sell crystal meth, it is usually due to the possession of the drug along with paraphernalia known to be used for its distribution such as baggies and scales. In some instances the subject may even be caught in the act of trying to sell the drug.
Not only is this type of charge a felony, it carries a mandatory legal consequence of at least three years, which can be increased if the sale was being made to a minor or if the defendant is a repeat offender. The felony status of this type of conviction also makes it count as a strike in the California three strike system.
To avoid the lengthy prison term and the strike, a defense attorney will try and disprove the intent portion of the charge and have it lessened to a misdemeanor possession.
In order to be charged with trafficking, the subject must only be suspected of being involved in the transportation of large amounts of crystal meth across county or state lines. A defendant does not have to have been found in possession of the narcotic nor transporting it. If the prosecutor can produce evidence that supports the defendant’s involvement with a large scale trafficking organization, he or she could be found guilty.
Being charged with the trafficking of crystal meth subjects a defendant to federal anti-drug penalties. Depending on the quantity of meth involved and the defendant’s prior drug crime history, the legal consequence can range from 40 years to life in prison. Financial penalties of up to $20 million may also be imposed.
As the production and use of these substances continue to grow, prosecutors and judges are becoming determined to severely punish those found guilty of any offenses related to them. To fight these charges and avoid legal consequences, a defendant’s best course of action would be to seek guidance of an aggressive California drug attorney.
Call (888) 250-2865 today to obtain a free consultation for arrests occurring in Orange County, Riverside, Los Angeles, or San Diego. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience and a great case history.