Las Cruces, New Mexico Drug Crime Attorneys
How serious is it to be caught with illegal drugs?
It is always a crime to possess illegal drugs, but the seriousness of the crime and the possible punishments depend on what type of drug it is and how much you had in your possession.
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Common Street Drugs (including Cocaine, Heroin, Methamphetamines, and others)
In New Mexico, possession of ANY amount (even a small residue) of most common street drugs is a felony.
Some drugs that are legal to possess and use if prescribed for you by a licensed doctor, are illegal to possess or use without that prescription.
The New Mexico the Board of Pharmacy classifies hundreds of drugs into categories. Possessing, using, or distributing drugs in some of these categories is a crime, and the penalties vary depending on the category of the drug. If you have been accused of possession of one of these controlled substances, consult an attorney to help you determine how the law applies in your case.
One ounce or less:
- Special petty misdemeanor for a first offence.
- Misdemeanor for additional convictions.
Between one and eight ounces: Misdemeanor.
8 ounces or more: Fourth degree felony.
The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act makes it legal under New Mexico law for people with certain medical conditions to possess marijuana for medical use. However:
- There are many conditions that you as a patient must meet to obtain and possess marijuana legally, with a prescription, under New Mexico state law. If you do not fulfill all the requirements, you cannot legally possess marijuana even if you have a legitimate medical condition.
- Possession of marijuana is still a federal crime and you can be prosecuted by the U.S. Government for possessing marijuana that is legal under New Mexico law.
What are the penalties for distributing drugs illegally?
The penalties for distributing, or for possessing with intent to distribute, a controlled substance depend on the circumstances. For example:
Less than 100 pounds:
- First offense – fourth degree felony
- Subsequent offense – third degree felony
Common Street Drugs such as Cocaine, Heroin, or Methamphetamines:
In New Mexico, the distribution of most common street drugs is a felony.
- First offense – third degree felony
- Subsequent offense – second degree felony
Note: Almost all these penalties are increased if a drug crime is committed in a posted Drug Free School Zone.
How can I fight a drug crime charge?
You should start by getting a criminal defense attorney. If you hire a private attorney, find one with experience in criminal defense against drug charges.
Your attorney will help you decide what is the best defense for you. A common defense is that the search or seizure of drugs was illegal. If the courts rule that the drugs are found as the result of an illegal search or seizure, the prosecution cannot use the drugs in the case against you.
A search could be illegal for many reasons, including:
- problems with a search warrant, or not having a warrant at all
- lack of probable cause or reasonable suspicion for the search/seizure, or
- tainted consent to search
However, a suspect waives his or her right to challenge a search if the suspect tells police officers that it is okay for them to search. If you agree to a search, that normally makes it impossible for your attorney to later challenge that search. So, if you want to keep that right, it is IMPORTANT that you preserve your rights by not agreeing to a police search of your house, your car, your person, or any of your possessions.