Possession of Methamphetamine
During 2011, there were 56 methamphetamine laboratories discovered in Pennsylvania according to a Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center Intelligence Brief. Meth is a highly addictive substance and is classified as a Schedule I drug in Pennsylvania meaning any conviction for possession is still treated very seriously since this is the most egregious classification.
What Charges You Can Face
In many cases, defendants are facing a simple charge of possession of methamphetamine. However, because it is a Schedule I drug it is possible to be charged with a felony largely dependent on the amount of drug you have in your possession at the time of your arrest. There are other factors that may be used to enhance the charges including:
- Arrested in a school zone – Anyone found in possession of meth in a school zone could face additional penalties. In many cases, there will be an attempt to push for additional charges because you were found in a school zone including distribution charges.
- Possession with intent – Possession with intent to distribute meth is very serious and if you are found guilty of these charges, you could face long jail sentences and fines of up to $250,000 or more.
- Trafficking or distribution – In some cases, if you are found with larger amounts of meth, you could be facing state or federal trafficking and distribution charges. Because of the severity of this charge, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney to work with you since you may face felony charges on the state level or the federal level.
Most Meth Charges are Felony Crimes
In most cases, simple possession of small amounts of meth can be charged as a misdemeanor crime. There are circumstances where a possession charge could be charged as a felony; for example, if you were in possession of a weapon or you were assisting someone under the age of 21 in obtaining the drug.
Because meth is considered a higher class of drug, and because of the potential for addiction, those who are facing charges of possession with intent will be facing a felony. In these cases, a simple possession charge could mean up to 15 years in prison and very high fines. Keep in mind while there are currently some issues with mandatory sentencing in Pennsylvania, in some cases, you may be prosecuted under federal drug laws which could mean even steeper fines and longer sentences.
Understanding the Long-Term Risks
If you are arrested and facing a drug charge of any type, you should take them very seriously. Being arrested with methamphetamine increases the potential of being charged under federal drug statutes. In some cases, you may face some state charges and additional federal charges or the federal charges could be so serious the state will not pursue a case against you if there are federal charges.
Keep in mind, federal drug charges are always charged as felonies and a single conviction could result in high mandatory minimum sentences and very high fines. Never risk your freedom with any drug charge, even if you feel you have done nothing wrong; you need a drug defense attorney who understands both state and federal laws and understands what you are up against.
Once you have been convicted of a drug charge, you could lose your driving rights for as long as six months. Additionally, you could face future problems in finding an apartment or finding a job because a background check will reveal a criminal record. If the charges were felonies, you could also have future problems obtaining loans and you could also lose any professional licenses you may have for your job. Do not take any chances, even if you think the charge is minor, call a criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights in state and federal courts.