Commonly known as crystal meth, ice, speed, crank or glass, methamphetamine is an extremely addictive drug and is considered a controlled substance, except with obtained with a prescription. Not only is the possession, sale of or manufacture of crystal meth illegal, it is also illegal to possess the specific combination of chemicals that are used to manufacture this exceptionally dangerous drug. Methamphetamines are responsible for causing both significant health problems and safety concerns for those who manufacture or use it. Because of the extreme danger to the public caused by the manufacturing process of meth, in most jurisdictions, it is illegal to even possess the paraphernalia, such as balances or scales, that are used in the process of manufacturing the drug.
Due to the dramatic increase in methamphetamine usage within the past two decades, both the individual states and the federal government have passed laws that carry significantly heavy penalties for individuals who are convicted of crimes involving meth.
Many popular drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, are made from plant derivatives. Unlike these common drugs, methamphetamines are chemically produced. When meth is produced is it typically made into either a rock or crystal, or into a white powder, which is then snorted, injected or smoked.
The process required to manufacture meth is excessively dangerous because of the explosive and toxic chemicals needed, many of which can cause an extremely negative environmental impact. It is common for homes or building used as meth labs to be torn down due to the fact that it is often less expensive to demolish the building than it would be to adequately detoxify and refurbish the structure.
If a person is charged with crystal meth possession, all that the prosecutor is required to prove is that the accused had knowledge that the substance they were in possession of was meth. Additionally, federal law only requires that the prosecution convinces the jury that the person accused knew that items in their possession would be used in the manufacture of methamphetamines.
As with most crimes, the penalty for the possession, sale or manufacture of meth can vary widely from state to state. However, for federal methamphetamine related charges, the same penalties cover all of the federal circuits.
Possible meth penalties include:
- Misdemeanor jail terms
- Felony prison terms
With meth related convictions, as with most drug convictions, the quantity of the meth in the person’s possession will affect the severity of the sentencing. Beyond the penalties for possession of methamphetamines, if the accused is convicted of possession with the intent to sell or the intent to traffic, the penalties are even more severe. In fact, the conviction of meth possession in federal court carries a penalty of no more than 1 year in prison. However, even even for a first conviction of meth possession with the intent to sell, federal law requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years when the accused was in possession of 5 grams of meth. If the accused were in possession of 50 grams the minimum mandatory sentence is 10 years.
In the state of Florida if a person is in possession of 14 or more grams of methamphetamine, they will most likely receive charges for drug trafficking. The mandatory minimum penalties for methamphetamine charges in the state of Florida are as follows:
14 grams to 28 grams – 3 year prison sentence; $50,000 fine
28 grams to 200 grams – 7 year prison sentence; $100,000 fine
More than 200 grams – 15 year prison sentence; $250,000 fine
It is a serious matter to be charged with a meth related crime. In the event that a person is charged with such a crime it is highly recommended that they immediately consult with an attorney who is experienced with defending against meth related charges.
Some of the defense strategies that can be used for methamphetamine charges include:
- Suppression of the evidence
- Entrapment defense
- Youthful offender
- Substantial assistance
There are constitutional protections which restrict law enforcement in the instances of seizures of person or property, as well as, unreasonable searches. A skilled attorney will be able to determine whether or not evidence against you was obtained illegally, and subsequently will know how to properly request that the court suppress the evidence that was illegally obtained. Sometimes, without this evidence, the prosecution will be unable to move forward with the case.
Entrapment is when it can be proven that the law enforcement coerced the committing of a crime. This can sometime happen when law enforcement make use of confidential informants or conduct sting operations. If the attorney can prove that the accused would not have committed the crime without the scene that was set up by law enforcement, it can often lead to a dismissal of the charges.
In a situation where the accused is not yet 21 years of age, at the time of sentencing, it is possible that they might qualify as a youthful offender. One exception that would disqualify the use of youthful offender as a possible defense is if the charge against the accused carries a mandatory sentencing of life in prison.
If the accused is providing substantial assistance to law enforcement so that they can arrest or press charges against other person’s of interest, the judge is allowed to take this into account during sentencing. In this way, the accused may be able to avoid the full minimum mandatory sentence. Typically, most defendants are not interested in snitching on their friends, family or acquaintances. However, if the accused decides that they would like to take advantage of a substantial assistance defense as a means to reducing their sentence their attorney will handle setting up the necessary meetings between the accused and law enforcement. After the meeting, the state attorney’s office, in conjunction with law enforcement will determine whether the accused offers enough potential assistance to qualify for a reduction in sentencing.
It is imperative that the defendant is 100% committed to providing assistance to law enforcement before signing the agreement from the state attorney’s office. If the accused signs the agreement but then fails to provide the information promised, the mandatory minimum sentencing will take be back in play and typically speaking, at that time, judges will not allow for any agreed upon plea deals to be withdrawn.
Florida Statute Section 893.15 outlines the mandatory minimum consequences for drug offenses. The statute, in its entirety can be found at: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=893.135&URL=0800-0899/0893/Sections/0893.135.html