While opioids are in the national headlines, prosecutors in Iowa continue to concentrate their resources on methamphetamine offenses. According to the Des Moines Register, meth arrests in Iowa have increased substantially over the last five years.
A Cedar Rapids criminal defense lawyer can help individuals who are charged with methamphetamine offenses. The most common Iowa drug crimes involving meth are distribution, manufacturing, possession, and possession with intent to distribute. Federal charges are also possible, particularly when the crime is investigated by federal agents.
Meth labs were once relatively common in Iowa. That changed after the federal government made it more difficult to buy ephedrine, a chemical used both in methamphetamine production and in common cold remedies.
Predictably, the legislative change simply drove the manufacture of methamphetamine to Mexico while making it more burdensome for sneezing consumers to buy Sudafed. Ironically, the meth that is imported from other countries is purer and less expensive than the meth that was made in Iowa before the government began to regulate ephedrine sales.
Iowa prosecutors still charge a few people each year with operating meth labs. In addition, methamphetamine is sometimes smuggled into Iowa in a liquid form. Prosecutors refer to the places that change the liquid into crystals of meth as “conversion labs.” Being accused of operating a conversion lab can lead to a charge of manufacturing a controlled substance.
A distribution occurs when methamphetamine is transferred from one person to another. No money needs to change hands.
Distribution of methamphetamine, like manufacturing, is a felony. The maximum penalties are more significant when more than 5 grams of methamphetamine is manufactured or delivered. The maximum doubles when the crime involves more than 5 kilograms.
A number of other factors can also increase the severity of the potential sentence. Those factors include distribution to a minor, carrying a firearm while committing the crime, and distributing meth near a school or certain other public places. Repeat offenses also trigger the possibility of harsher penalties.
Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute
Possessing methamphetamine for the purpose of selling or transferring it to another person carries the same penalties as a completed distribution. Prosecutors usually charge “possession with intent” when they believe the quantity possessed is too large for personal use, when there is evidence that the accused sold meth in the past, or when a witness claims the accused offered to sell methamphetamine.
Simple Possession of Methamphetamine
Criminal defense lawyers in Iowa use the phrase “simple possession” to refer to the crime of possessing a drug for personal use. A first offense is classified as a serious misdemeanor while a second offense is an aggravated misdemeanor. A third offense is a felony.
Other Methamphetamine Offenses
One of the most common methods of manufacturing methamphetamine requires anhydrous ammonia, a chemical that farmers use to fertilize crops. Iowa law makes it illegal to possess or transport anhydrous ammonia in an unapproved container. Stealing anhydrous ammonia or tampering with equipment in an attempt to steal the chemical also violates Iowa’s drug laws.
Other drug laws make it unlawful to possess pipes and other paraphernalia used to smoke methamphetamine. The possession of ingredients needed to manufacture meth can also be charged as a crime.
Defending Methamphetamine Charges in Iowa
A Cedar Rapids drug defense attorney can help clients understand their options when they are charged with a methamphetamine offense. In some cases, the failure of police officers to follow correct procedures results in cases being dismissed. When convictions depend on the testimony of drug users, juries may decide that the witnesses are unworthy of belief.
In other cases, the accused may want to negotiate a resolution of the charge. When the accused has a drug problem, obtaining voluntary treatment can help avoid serious penalties. The accused’s lawyer can investigate all the facts and advise clients about the best defense to the charges they face.
You can also read about Why People Use Meth in our blog.