Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH
It is fairly common knowledge that meth is an illegal substance, but exactly what is the punishment for possession of meth? Convictions involving meth possession often lead to prison time, so is meth a felony? The answers to these questions depend on specific details of the charges. We’ve noted the differences in this article.
If you find yourself considering the legal implications of meth, it may be time to consider seeking help for your drug use. You have the ability to change before substance abuse leads to prison time. We can guide you to the addiction treatment programs that can help you make that change.
Call (385) 327-7418 today for more information on addiction treatment options in your area.
Otherwise keep reading to understand the legal consequences of getting arrested for meth.
There’s much to know when it comes to the legal consequences of meth use. Jump to sections and get all of the answers you need.
Meth as a Controlled Substance
Meth is considered a “controlled substance.” Meaning that the possession, sale, or manufacture of meth is against the law. Under certain circumstances, methamphetamine is legal to use when obtained with a prescription.
However, medical providers rarely prescribe this drug. In most cases, it is considered a highly dangerous drug that can cause significant health and safety problems for those who use or make it.
In most areas, it is illegal to possess the chemicals used to manufacture meth. These chemicals are known as “precursors.” Along with precursors, it is also unlawful to have the equipment used in the manufacturing process, such as scales or balances.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified all substances, including certain precursors, into five categories (also known as schedules) based on accepted medical use and potential abuse or dependency. For example, Schedule I drugs, like heroin and LSD, have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. Schedule V drugs like cough medicine, however, have a very low potential for abuse.
Meth is a Schedule II drug.
Although it has rare accepted medical uses, it is still considered a highly dangerous drug with high potential for abuse and severe psychological or physical dependence. Other examples of Schedule II drugs include cocaine and the prescription pain reliever oxycodone. In addition, the penalties associated with Schedule I and II drugs generally tend to be more severe.
An Overview of Meth’s Legal Consequences
Laws prohibiting the unauthorized possession, manufacture, and distribution of meth exist at the federal, state, and local levels. The punishments for these actions can differ depending on the jurisdiction.
The penalties for the possession, sale and manufacture of meth are different in every state. Each jurisdiction has its sentencing terms. However, federal charges have the same penalties regardless of where in the country the sentencing occurs.
A conviction related to meth can result in different punishments depending on the severity of the offense. Penalties can range from a fine or misdemeanor jail term to a lengthy prison term for a felony conviction. Generally, the greater the amount of meth possessed, the longer the prison sentence tends to be.
When an officer catches you with meth, it can lead to a conviction even if you were not using it at the time of the arrest. A prosecutor has to prove that you knew the substance you possessed was meth.
Additionally, the prosecutor may convict you for possessing certain chemicals to manufacture meth if found on your person or in your home or car. If the prosecutor proves that you knew or had reasonable grounds to conclude, the items would be used to make meth.
Possession of meth with the intent to sell or traffic it can result in even greater penalties than simple possession. For instance, under federal law, simple first-time possession of meth may result in a prison term of up to one year.
On the other hand, anyone convicted of possessing meth with the intent to distribute it may face 5 to 10 years in prison, depending on the amount of the drug. Again, this is true even for first-time offenders.
Meth Possession Sentencing: Jail or Prison Time
Jail time for meth can vary depending on the quantity, measured in weight, and the number of one’s previous offenses. It also depends if your arrest also involves the possession of meth in death or serious injury. Various other factors can influence the penalty. After your arrest for meth possession, your attorney will be able to walk you through the charges against you and the possible penalties if you are convicted.
Generally, though, possession will result in fairly lengthy prison terms and large fines, sometimes exceeding millions of dollars depending on the charges. As a first offense, possessing 5 to 49 grams of pure meth can result in a prison term between 5 and 40 years. If it is your second offense, it can result in 20 years to life in prison. Possession of 50 grams or more can result in 10 years to life in prison for the first offense. However, if you have two or more prior offenses, it can result in life imprisonment automatically.
What Happens to My Child if I am Arrested for Meth Possession?
Getting arrested for possession of meth or any drug has the potential to affect not just you but the people who care about and depend on you too. For many parents, the immediate concern after getting arrested is hopefully not themselves but their children.
If your child is with you at the time of arrest, the arresting officer may allow you to arrange care for your child before taking you away. However, Child Protective Services (CPS) will likely be notified of your arrest. You may have the chance to inform others, but it’s more likely that CPS will take charge in informing your family members and finding an alternative caregiver for your child.
CPS does not like to remove children from their maternal or paternal families unless the circumstances offer no other choice. Therefore, they will do what they can to place the child with someone within their family.
If your child is not with you at the time of arrest, you’re going to want to attempt to make arrangements through the police. If you cannot make a call at the time, you can ask the officer or your attorney to make emergency phone calls to locate your child and arrange for their care.
If possible, you should also let your child’s school, daycare center, or another caregiver that you will not be able to pick up your child. It is best to inform them of who will be picking up your child in your place or who they can contact to care for your child.
When CPS Gets Involved in a Parent’s Meth Possession Case
If your child is not picked up by a relative or close friend, the county Child Protective Services (CPS) agency will likely intervene and place your child in an emergency shelter. If the police officers bring your child to CPS, you may arrange the release of your child to a relative. You should call that relative immediately and have to get in contact with CPS.
Make sure to remind your relative to bring any proof of their relationship to your child.
This can be a birth certificate, passport, or signed letter from you.
CPS will assess any relative who comes forward to care for the child. This assessment includes performing a criminal background check, verifying their relationship to the child, and visiting the home to make sure that it is a safe environment.
Once CPS determines that your relative poses no risk or danger to your child, they will release your child to them.
However, if CPS does not place your child with a relative within 48 hours, they will file papers to make your child a dependent of the court.
The court will be responsible for deciding what happens to the child at this point. After that, CPS will most likely place your child in foster care. In this case, you can discuss further steps with your lawyer.
Rehab’s Impact on Meth Possession Sentencing
Everyone deserves a chance at recovery. If you find yourself under arrest for meth possession, drug rehab is absolutely an option. Addiction treatment can help people take responsibility for their behavior and avoid repeating past mistakes.
Getting treatment can prevent repeated convictions, which can, in turn, prevent relapse.
In some cases, your defense attorney may be able to work a deal to get you into drug rehab for meth addiction in return for a lesser sentence of probation.
Of course, if you are addicted to meth and facing drug charges, you’re going to want always to try this option first. It is not only about getting out of the legal problems that you find yourself in but about getting help to overcome meth addiction. You must be a strong advocate for yourself so that you can prepare your attorney to present this option to the prosecutor or judge.
Mandated treatment can be very helpful for those with addictions, but unfortunately, people in prison often do not receive appropriate treatment. When a person’s addiction is severe, punishment like jail time often does not successfully stop drug use. As a result, many people find ways to continue using drugs in prison.
Even if they have no choice but to remain abstinent, inmates are often at a greater risk for relapse upon release. In addition, the multiple stressors associated with reentry present a major challenge to sobriety. These include the stigma associated with being incarcerated, difficulties finding housing and employment, and reconnecting with family.
Proper treatment and support are ultimately much more successful in encouraging people to quit drug use and stay sober. Treatment may include safe detox, intensive care and education in a residential facility, attending therapy, support groups, or a 12-step program. These are all ways to change your behavior, learn new strategies, and motivate yourself to continue staying sober and cease all criminal conduct.
If You’re Using Meth, This is What You Need to Know
If you find yourself asking questions like “What is the punishment for possession of meth?” or “Is meth a felony?” you may be overlooking a more immediate issue: your meth use.
Getting caught with meth can mean jail time and hefty fines, but problems with drug abuse don’t necessarily end when your sentence does. Drug use can return and even worsen after your release. And repeated use can mean repeated convictions, which lead to more severe punishment.
With proper treatment now, however, you can safely and successfully stop your meth use before it has the chance to lead to legal trouble.
If you find yourself using meth so often that you are concerned about getting caught with it, it may be a sign that you have a dependency problem. But you are not beyond help. There is no shame in reaching out for assistance with addiction.
Most people are less successful when they try to quit on their own. Professional treatment equips you with the tools you need to begin recovery and stick with it when it gets tough.
There is help within your reach, and we can help you discover and understand all your options. Contact us at (385) 327-7418 as soon as possible to discuss treatment programs near you. We can answer all your questions and ease your worries as you begin your journey to a happier, healthier life.
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