Handling Misdemeanor And Felony Drug Crimes

It is always a crime to possess illegal drugs, but the seriousness of the crime and the possible punishments depend on what type of drug it is and how much you had in your possession.

In New Mexico, possession of any amount — even a small residue — of most common street drugs is a felony. Common street drugs include cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.

Student and their parents need to know a conviction for drugs or drug paraphernalia can bar future federal grants and loans for schooling. Any student or future student needs to consult with a lawyer when charged with even a low-level drug crime.

If you are found in possession of any drug, you need an experienced defense lawyer to advocate on your behalf. Call McGraw & Strickland, LLC, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, at 575-567-3107 today.

What About Prescription Drugs?

Some drugs that are legal to possess and use if prescribed for you by a licensed doctor are illegal to possess or use without that prescription. The Opioid Crisis arises partly from this type of scenario.

The New Mexico Board of Pharmacy classifies hundreds of drugs into categories. Possessing, using or distributing drugs in some of these categories is a crime, and the penalties vary depending on the category of the drug. If you have been accused of possession of one of these controlled substances, consult an attorney to help you determine how the law applies in your case.

Penalties For Possessing Marijuana

  • One ounce or less:
    • Special petty misdemeanor for a first offense.
    • Misdemeanor for additional convictions.
  • Between one and eight ounces: Misdemeanor.
  • 8 ounces or more: Fourth degree felony.

The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act makes it legal under New Mexico law for people with certain medical conditions to possess marijuana for medical use. However:

  • There are many conditions that you as a patient must meet to obtain and possess marijuana legally, with a prescription, under New Mexico state law. If you do not fulfill all the requirements, you cannot legally possess marijuana even if you have a legitimate medical condition.
  • Possession of marijuana is still a federal crime, and you can be prosecuted by the U.S. Government for possessing marijuana that is legal under New Mexico law.

Penalties For Drug Distribution

The penalties for distributing or for possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance depend on the circumstances. For example:


  • Less than 100 pounds:
    • First offense – fourth degree felony
    • Subsequent offense – third degree felony

Common Street Drugs

In New Mexico, the distribution of most common street drugs (such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines) is a felony:

  • First offense – third degree felony
  • Subsequent offense – second degree felony

Note: Almost all these penalties are increased if a drug crime is committed in a posted Drug Free School Zone.

How Can I Fight A Drug Crime Charge?

You should start by getting a criminal defense attorney. If you hire a private attorney, find one with experience in criminal defense against drug charges.

Your attorney will help you decide what the best defense for you is. A common defense is that the search or seizure of drugs was illegal. If the courts rule that the drugs are found as the result of an illegal search or seizure, the prosecution cannot use the drugs in the case against you.

A search could be illegal for many reasons, including:

  • Problems with a search warrant, or not having a warrant at all

  • Lack of probable cause or reasonable suspicion for the search/seizure

  • Tainted consent to search

However, a suspect waives his or her right to challenge a search if the suspect tells police officers that it is okay for them to search. If you agree to a search, that normally makes it impossible for your attorney to later challenge that search. So, if you want to keep that right, it is important that you preserve your rights by not agreeing to a police search of your house, your car, your person or any of your possessions. Contact McGraw & Strickland, LLC for a consultation.