San Antonio Federal Methamphetamine Drug Charges Defense.

Methamphetamine charges are the top federal-drug crime in America. This is also the most common drug crime in San Antonio. The reason is simple. Methamphetamine is cheap to make. And the drug profits are huge. But federal-methamphetamine charges carry heavy penalties.

Chiefly, courts treat methamphetamine dealers harshly. In particular, three facts raise the jail time for methamphetamine crimes. They are the drug quantity. Drug quality. And any dangerous acts connected to the drug deal.

Options to lower jail time for Federal Methamphetamine crimes.

Fortunately, anyone facing a federal-methamphetamine charge has options. If he wants to plead guilty, then he may get safety valve relief. Or he may qualify for a 5K1.1 motion. These are the top two options for most drug offenders. And if a person qualifies for one of these options, then it can really lower the amount of jail time he will get on these drug charges. We will discuss each of these options below.

San Antonio Pretrial Motions to Suppress Evidence in Drug Cases.

Most importantly, a person charged with a federal methamphetamine crime should know how the drug laws work. This includes knowing your Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. For example, in most federal drug cases, the government usually has a really strong case.

This is because they usually only have to prove two things. First, they have to show the person possessed the drugs. Second, they have to show the person had a criminal intent. To show these two things, a police officer will say he found the drugs on the person, his bag, or his car. Plus, the officer will often say the person confessed to the crime after police arrested him.

But police like to cut corners. It makes their jobs easier. As a result, they sometimes search or arrest a person without probable cause. They also ask the person questions without giving him his Miranda warnings. If these are the facts in your case, then you maybe able to file a pretrial motion to suppress the evidence in your case.

These motions are not silver bullets. Judges deny these motions on a regular basis. Nonetheless, in some cases they can lead to a dismissal of the charges. Or sometimes to a lower jail term with a plea deal. In short, you should never overlook this option.

What is the average jail time for people convicted on federal methamphetamine drug charges?

The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) keeps detailed records on the jail time meth dealers get. According to the USSC, judges gave methamphetamine dealers an average jail term of 95 months. That is just under 8 years in jail. These numbers are for fiscal year 2020.

Federal Methamphetamine Prison Terms. San Antonio, Texas Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Genaro Cortez.
The table lists the average jail term for the top seven drug crimes in 2020.

These seven crimes are:

(A) Methamphetamine-95 months; (B) Crack Cocaine-74 months; (C) Heroin-66 months; (D) Powder Cocaine-66 months; (E) Reefer-29 months; (F) Fentanyl-61 months; and (G) Oxy-39 months.

Reefer cases carried the lowest jail terms. And meth cases carried the highest jail terms.

Finally, more than 98% of meth dealers received jail terms.

In contrast, crack-cocaine crimes have the next highest jail term. The average sentence for these charges is 74 months. That is a little over six years in jail. Similarly, the average jail term for the other five drug crimes is considerably lower than for a meth charge.

High Demand for Methamphetamine leads to a large number of Federal Methamphetamine Drug crimes.

It is about supply and demand. It gets people high for a very low price. This is why methamphetamine makes up the majority of federal drug charges in America. Again, they are also the top drug type in San Antonio, Texas. The pie chart below illustrates this point.

Federal Meth Charges. Affordable Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer. Genaro Cortez
Federal methamphetamine charges were the most common federal drug crime in America in 2020.

In sum, meth cases made up over 46% of federal drug crimes in 2020. Powder cocaine was the second most common federal drug crime in America. But it made up less than 17% of drug crimes. In other words, federal meth charges more than doubled the next closest drug. This also helps explain why there is such a big difference between the average jail term for meth as compared to the other drugs.

But this is not the only factor. In fact, there is another reason. And it is tied directly to the drug penalties and sentencing guidelines.

Penalties for Federal Methamphetamine Drug Charges in San Antonio.

The table below lists the top penalties for federal methamphetamine charges. Most of all, the table shows how both the amount and purity of meth increases jail term. In short, the higher the purity and quantity, the higher the jail term.

Penalties for Federal Methamphetamine Charges under 21 USC § 841(b).

The table points out how the punishment is tied to two drug types. Meth-actual and Meth-mixture.

Meth-actual refers to the weight of the drug itself contained in the mixture or substance. For example, a mixture containing 10 grams of meth at 50% purity contains 5 grams of meth actual.

In addition, "ICE" means a mixture or substance containing d-methamphetamine hydrochloride of at least 80% purity.

Also, the drug type and quantity are also tied to the sentencing guidelines. USSG §2D1.1 is the guideline for drug cases. This guideline takes into account not only the purity, but also the quantity of meth.

As a consequence, the drug penalties and sentencing guidelines work together to push up the jail term for meth cases.

Finally, the table illustrates how defense lawyers and prosecutors can use the drug quantity to work out an agreement. If no drug quantity is specified in the indictment or information, then the range of punishment drops significantly. This is also one way to avoid mandatory minimum sentences.
DrugQuantityMinimumMaximum
Meth-Acutal5 grams or more.5 years.40 years.
Meth-Mixture50 grams or more.5 years.40 years.
Meth-Actual50 grams or more.10 years.Life.
Meth-Mixture500 grams or more.10 years.Life.
Meth-either mixture or actual.No quantity specified in the Information or Indictment.0 years20 years.

If I have a gun during a federal drug crime, will that increase my jail term? What if I was the top guy in the drug deal? Will that hurt me in court?

USSG §2D1.1(b) contains a laundry lists of facts that will increase the jail term in federal meth cases. But two factors stand out in meth cases. They are possessing a dangerous weapon and being a leader or organizer in the crime. According to the USSG, judges increased a jail term for weapons in about 25% of the cases. And they also increased the jail term for leaders and organizers in about 6% of the cases.

How do I get a lower jail term on a federal methamphetamine charge?

There are several ways to get a lower jail term in on these cases. First, qualify for safety valve. To qualify, a person must meet the following requirements:

  1. Not have more than 4 criminal history points. In other words, have a relatively clean record;
  2. Not use violence, threats of violence, or a weapon during the crime;
  3. Nobody died during the crime;
  4. Not be a leader or organizer in the crime; and
  5. Tell the government everything he knows about the crime before he is sentenced.

The second option is to get a government motion for substantial assistance. That means the person must fully cooperate with the government. This may include taking the witness stand as a government witness.

To see how safety valve and 5K1.1 motions work, click here.

Third, qualify for a minor-role adjustment. USSG §3B1.2 allows a judge to lower a jail term if the person played either a minor or minimal role in the crime. Many judges are reluctant to grant this request. Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to ask for this option. At worst, the judge will say no. But if he says yes, this can significantly lower the jail term.

Drug Possession Attorney in San Antonio, Texas.

Federal drug crimes are often tragic. Not only for the users, but also for the dealers. Notably, federal methamphetamine penalties are harsh. However, a person charged with a federal drug crime has options to lower his jail term. He may be eligible for safety valve relief. He may also qualify for substantial assistance. Or he may get a minor role adjustment. In other words, these are two really good ways to get a lower jail term on a federal drug crime.

Law Office of Genaro R. Cortez, P.L.L.C.

730 West Hildebrand Avenue
Suite 2,
San Antonio, Texas 78212
Phone: 210-733-7575
Fax: 210-733-7578
Email: genaro.cortez@cortezlawyer.org