Tennessee meth charges merit a strong, aggressive defense

The negative consequences of a state or federal drug conviction related to methamphetamine are very severe.

On June 24, 2020, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) released its Crime in Tennessee report summarizing 2019 crime data for the Volunteer State. Overall, crime decreased in 2019, including the most serious offenses, and drug crimes went down 5.6%. However, methamphetamine-related offenses increased 32.1% over a three-year span from 2017 to 2019.

Why does meth concern officials?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls it an "extremely addictive stimulant amphetamine drug" that people can inject, smoke, swallow or snort. It is a federal Schedule II drug - the second most serious category including illegal substances with "high potential for abuse ... potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence ... [and] considered dangerous," according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Health problems from methamphetamine include accelerated metabolism reflected in elevated heart rate, temperature, breathing rate and blood pressure. Over time, serious symptoms may include weight loss, rotting teeth, confusion, violent behavior, hallucinations and more.

Meth production leaves toxic residue in the surrounding environment, which can harm innocent people like children who move into a home that previously had a methamphetamine lab.

State and federal law enforcement are targeting people possibly involved with methamphetamine

In Tennessee, the TBI oversees the Tennessee Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Task Force, which fights unlawful meth production, distribution and usage in every county. The Task Force helps with meth-crime prosecution, methamphetamine-lab processing and the rescue of children living in dangerous settings with meth toxicity.

In February 2020, 15 people faced state indictments for methamphetamine distribution conspiracy, according to News4 Nashville and the involved officials said they would "continue to crack down on anyone who has anything to do with [methamphetamine]." TBI Director David Rausch said, "If you buy, sell, or traffic illegal narcotics we will find and arrest you."

Federal law enforcement also focuses on meth inside Tennessee. For example, in July 2020, a 32-year-old Dresden man received a sentence of 23 years in federal prison for a conspiracy-to-distribute-methamphetamine conviction, followed by five years of supervised release, according to the Jackson Sun.

The U.S. Attorney in that case said that meth "causes significant human pain, loss, and destruction in countless ways ... [and] those who choose to [distribute methamphetamine] will pay the price with a long prison sentence."

Zealous pursuit of methamphetamine perpetrators may cast too wide a net

As we have described, meth is dangerous for users and for those who unknowingly have contact with its toxic residue, so it makes sense that state and federal law enforcement are concerned - but inevitably, when detectives, investigators and officers aggressively pursue suspicious individuals, law enforcement might also sweep up the innocent.

Anyone in Tennessee who believes authorities are investigating them for meth involvement or who has already faced arrest or charges should seek immediate representation by a seasoned criminal defense attorney. The negative ramifications of a conviction are serious and can have lifelong consequences, including potentially long prison sentences, probation or parole, name in the Tennessee Drug Offender Registry Database, fines, restrictions on gun ownership, and trouble with employment, relationships and reputation.

A lawyer involved early may be able to prevent charges, get them dismissed or negotiate a favorable plea deal if appropriate.

Even if the defendant faces a criminal trial, legal counsel that has done a thorough investigation and analysis can raise issues like whether the government violated constitutional or legal rights, whether evidence is reliable, whether the prosecutor can prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, whether the defendant confessed falsely or gave incriminating information under coercion or duress or without having a lawyer present, whether officers conducted an illegal search or seizure, whether the facts constituted an actual crime and other defenses.

The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers in Chattanooga defend the rights of those accused of meth offenses in the Chattanooga region and across Tennessee.