Pittsburgh Meth Crimes Lawyer
Reports of small in-home “meth labs” dot the news, and most people are familiar with the description of someone being a “meth head.” The pervasiveness of methamphetamine varies considerably from region to region, and meth is certainly present in, and being manufactured in, Western Pennsylvania.
Compared to other drugs that people abuse, meth is fairly simple to manufacture, which is why it has become famous for being a cottage industry, with people using their own homes, abandoned buildings, even trailers and RVs as meth labs. In several instances, meth labs have been found in homes with children present, subjecting them to the risk of injury from accidents and exposing them to serious criminal activity. Loss of custody, even of parental rights, is a possibility.
Meth labs always have the potential for explosions and fires. In-home lab accidents can cause serious injuries both to the meth manufacturers and others in the vicinity, as well as damage to the property containing the lab and to nearby structures. These may be the subject of other criminal charges and/or civil lawsuits. A skilled Pittsburgh meth crimes lawyer can help you navigate these complicated cases.
Methamphetamine is chemically similar to its cousin amphetamine, but has a stronger effect on the central nervous system. Meth has been around since 1919, and has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions. It’s less widely used in medicine today, but remains available by prescription under the name Desoxyn. It is rather infrequently prescribed to treat narcolepsy, ADHD, and some severe cases of obesity.
It can be taken in any of three ways: injection, ingestion (as a pill), or smoked. It increases alertness and staves off sleep; it was used for that purpose, along with amphetamine, by the military during World War II. Meth also increases breathing and heart rates, suppresses appetite, and causes severe dental problems. Over time, heavy users have trouble sleeping, eat very little, and tend become aggressive, paranoid, mentally unstable and simply rundown physically.
Offenses Involving Meth—Under Pennsylvania Law
Pennsylvania treats meth as a Schedule II drug. The lowest offense, simple possession, is a misdemeanor, while the more serious possession with intent to deliver (PWID) is a felony. Even simple possession can result in jail time, and the penalties for PWID are much more severe. Whether you face simple possession or PWID is usually a matter of how much meth is involved. Significant amounts almost always result in the more serious charge on the assumption that such large quantities must have been intended for sale, distribution, etc.
If your case is based on obtaining the prescription form of meth—Desoxyn—by prescription fraud, you will also be subject to the offenses that specifically deal with prescription drugs (see the Prescription Drug charges page on this site).
Under Federal Law
Federal law also makes it unlawful to possess meth with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense it, and to actually manufacture, distribute, or dispense it. The seriousness of the offense depends on the amount of meth involved:
- Five to less than 50 grams generally calls for 5 to 40 years and fines that can reach the millions of dollars.
- Fifty grams or more generally calls for a sentence of 10 years to life and even heavier fines.
Defenses to Methamphetamine Charges
The most likely defense to a meth charge depends on which offense you have been charged with, and the specific facts of the case. In many cases, there are serious questions about whether the defendant really had “possession” of the drug, or just the misfortune to be in the vicinity. An experienced drug crime lawyer knows that things are often not as they seem. You can be friends with, and even live in the same residence as someone else and never suspect that the other person is involved with drugs.
A similar defense may be available to charges of PWID; many people have been tricked into carrying drugs in packages and suitcases without ever realizing they were carrying drugs. It tends to be a tough defense to prove, but enough supporting circumstantial evidence in the hands of the right meth crimes attorney can do it.
Other defenses focus on whether the police complied with the law in making the stop and performing the search that produced the drugs. There has to be reasonable cause for them to stop you and to search.
The Legal Help You Need from an Experienced Pittsburgh Meth Crimes Lawyer
Whether you have been charged with manufacturing meth, taking part in the sale and distribution of the drug, or simply having some on or near you, your future is in jeopardy. The sooner you obtain experienced legal assistance, the sooner you get an experienced eye to look at the case objectively.
Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer Gary Gerson has more than 25 years of experience successfully defending drug charges in Western Pennsylvania. He knows where the weaknesses in the state’s case are likely to be and what defenses have the best chances of success. Just as importantly, he knows when negotiating a plea deal is your best option, and how to get the best terms possible.
Whether you’re facing state charges, federal charges, or both, contact the Gerson law offices today.