What You Need to Know About Drug Trafficking in New Mexico
Drug crimes are heavily prosecuted in New Mexico. Laws are extremely strict concerning drug trafficking and police officers tend to be especially on the lookout for these types of cases. Prosecutors do not take it easy on drug trafficking suspects when their day in court arrives.
We’ll take a look at the laws concerning drug trafficking in New Mexico, the penalties as well as some possible defense strategies.
Drug trafficking laws
Drug trafficking does not necessarily mean moving illegal drugs across state or national borders. Instead, the laws focus on manufacturing or selling illegal substances. There is not a specific amount required for drug trafficking laws to apply.
Here are the 5 ways that law enforcement can charge you with drug trafficking.
- Manufacturing any Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V controlled substance
- Distributing or selling Schedule I or II drugs
- Selling or distributing methamphetamine
- Possessing Schedule I or II controlled substances with intent to sell
- Possession of methamphetamine with the intent to deliver it
Because of the wording of New Mexico’s drug laws, the state does not have to prove that you actually sold the drugs to charge you with drug trafficking. Instead, all the prosecution has to do is prove that you possessed the drugs with an intention to sell them.
Penalties for New Mexico drug trafficking
Drug trafficking penalties are far greater than standard drug offenses. Standard possession charges for illegal substances generally carry fourth-degree felony charges, which are only about 18 months in jail.
Your first drug trafficking arrest includes charges of a second-degree felony. With such charges, you could face up to nine years in jail and a fine of as much as $10,000.
Second-time offenders often face a first-degree felony. When facing these charges, you’re looking at up to 18 years in jail and fines of up to $15,000.
Because trafficking charges are so much more serious, a good criminal defense attorney will attack the prosecution’s claims that you intended to sell or distribute the drugs. If the attorney wins this challenge, your charges could be significantly decreased.
Drug trafficking defenses
Criminal defense attorneys have many defense strategies for overcoming drug trafficking charges. There are three main defenses that your lawyer might mount in your case.
- Motion to suppress physical evidence: this is a pretrial motion where your attorney will argue that the prosecution’s evidence is not admissible in the case. This might be due to the police officer’s reason for stopping and searching you. The officer must follow certain protocols to protect your rights. Unreasonable search and seizure is one of the most common reasons for a motion to suppress.
- Insufficient possession evidence: sometimes, police officers arrest individuals for drug trafficking even when the drugs are not on you. Examples of this include when law enforcement finds drugs in the trunk of a car or within your residence. To win a drug trafficking case, the prosecution must prove that you possessed the drugs. Therefore, your attorney might argue that you did not know the drugs were there or they didn’t belong to you. The drugs could belong to anyone who was in the car or anyone who lived at your residence.
- Insufficient evidence that you intended to sell the drugs: because of the way New Mexico’s drug laws are written, many drug trafficking cases have no proof that the individual facing charges actually sold the drugs. The prosecution instead implies that you intended to sell them based on the amount of drugs law enforcement found. This assumption is misplaced, and your attorney can easily challenge it.
Facing criminal charges does not automatically mean that you will be convicted of those crimes. Hiring the best criminal defense attorney is your best chance of avoiding conviction or getting the charges lowered to a lesser offense to allow you to return to your way of life quickly. Contact our office for the legal defense you deserve.