What Constitutes Drug Trafficking?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

Legal Defense for Drug Trafficking Charges in New Mexico

Drug Trafficking and a Judge's GavelDrug trafficking is a very serious felony criminal charge that includes manufacturing, cultivating, transporting, or distributing illegal drugs in the state of New Mexico as well as into other states or countries.

If you are caught in possession with a substantial amount of illegal drugs – more than you could reasonably justify for personal use – you could be charged with drug trafficking and distribution.

The penalties for a drug trafficking charge are extensive. And if your case involves multiple state violations, you might face federal felony charges.

Drug Trafficking in Albuquerque Defined

In New Mexico, drug trafficking can include:

  • Manufacturing illegal substances
  • Distributing illicit and controlled substances (even bartering or giving it away)
  • Possessing a controlled substance with the intention of distributing it

Local and state law enforcement agencies aggressively seek out those involved in drug trafficking, and the courts impose harsh penalties for those convicted. This is the law in New Mexico, based on the ideology that harsh penalties will serve a few important functions:

  • Punitive
  • Curb the amount of illicit drugs available on the street
  • A warning to the public of what could happen if they too engage in such criminal acts

What are Controlled Substances?

Controlled substances are drugs that can risk a person’s health and safety. Therefore, the state and the federal government have enacted laws that regulate these substances and limit their distribution. Some controlled substances are illegal (e.g., heroin, cocaine), while other controlled substances are legal with a prescription by a doctor (e.g., Xanax, codeine, oxycontin).

Currently, the state and federal governments have five categories of controlled substances. Depending on the amount you are in possession of and the class, you could face additional penalties if convicted of drug trafficking.

  • Schedule I – There is no medical use for these drugs. Schedule I drugs are unsafe and have a high risk for abuse. Some examples include LSD, heroin, marijuana, and ecstasy. In states where marijuana is legalized, it is still considered a Schedule I drug and may be illegal to take across the border.
  • Schedule II – Narcotics and stimulants in this category have a high risk of being abused and include drugs like OxyContin, morphine, opium, methamphetamines, and methadone.
  • Schedule III –Drugs in this category have a lower risk for abuse and dependency, but still, carry some risk; therefore, they are heavily controlled. Substances in this class include Vicodin, Suboxone, and ketamine. Anabolic steroids fall into this category as well.
  • Schedule IV – While these substances carry an even lower risk, they still require massive regulations and prescribers must take precautions when issuing a prescription for these medications. Schedule IV drugs include Versed, Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Soma.
  • Schedule V – Drugs in this category have the lowest risk for abuse and dependency and typically contain limited quantities of controlled substances. For example, a cough syrup with codeine would fall into this category.

Federal versus State Charges

The penalties for a drug trafficking charge depend on if you are charged with a state or federal crime. In New Mexico, drug trafficking is a 2nd-degree Felony. Therefore, you could face up to 9 years in prison for your first-time offense. If this is your second conviction of drug trafficking the penalty doubles and you could spend 18 years in prison.

If you are convicted of a federal crime, the penalty varies. Federal drug trafficking conditions can range from 5 to as much as 40 years in prison.

5 Reasons You Need a Drug Defense Attorney

Drug crimes are treated seriously. The courts hope to use you as an example to the public, which means prosecutors will do what they can to issue the harshest penalty and highest charge.

If you think that you can negotiate a better plea and that you do not need a drug defense lawyer, here are five reasons to reconsider:

  1. An attorney saves any future job opportunities. Finding a good job today is difficult – and even more so if you have a criminal conviction. A criminal record, especially for a drug charge, can permanently affect your ability to get a job. If you are convicted of a felony, you might find that most employers will not accept your application.
  2. A defense lawyer has experience with drug cases. How many drug cases have you defended in court against experienced prosecutors and judges? A drug defense attorney knows the law, understands the legal process, and has defended dozens of cases just like yours. They can leverage on that experience to work a better deal, or possibly have the charges reduced or dismissed entirely.
  3. An attorney can give your case the time and attention that is necessary. When you work with a public defender, you are working with an attorney that has an enormous caseload. Often, more than any mere human can adequately  handle. They only have so much time, and they must spread out that limited time amongst sometimes hundreds of cases. So even if they are a good attorney, their huge caseload simply spreads them too thin. When you hire a personal attorney, you have someone who has the proper amount of time to focus on your case, and give it the attention that is necessary to get the best possible outcome.
  4. A lawyer can ease your stress. Being charged with a federal drug trafficking crime is very serious – and could lead to years in prison. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and stressed, which is why you should hire an attorney. An attorney can put your concerns to rest, take over the tedious tasks of preparing your case for trial, and ease your stress.
  5. A lawyer protects you from prosecutors. Drug crime prosecutors are vicious. They have a professional agenda to ensure the public does not commit similar crimes; therefore, they will do everything they can to receive a maximum conviction in your case. A skilled defense lawyer is not scared by an aggressive prosecutor. In fact, they have most likely dealt with the prosecutor in your case before, and know how to handle them.

Contact an Aggressive Defense Attorney in New Mexico Immediately

If you have been arrested for drug trafficking in New Mexico, you need a skilled drug defense attorney by your side.

Ease your stress, reduce your concerns, and have an aggressive defense attorney who is ready to defend your case. Speak with an Albuquerque drug defense lawyer today from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices by calling 505-375-4661 or ask our team a question online.