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Editorial

Methamphetamine Beware - Part 3: Enhancements


02/01/2005 - In my prior Articles I discussed the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Since my article on the Sentencing Guide Lines was written there has been a major change in the law and the way sentences are impacted by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In the case of United States v. Booker , the United States Supreme Court made two important findings. First, the Court found that the Federal Guidelines violate the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution to the extent that they allow a judge, rather than jury, to establish the facts used in sentencing. The second part of the Booker decision states that the judge is not now mandated to follow the guidelines but instead the Judge should use the guidelines as an "advisory" guide. Although Booker is a major move toward sanity in Federal Sentencing, most sentences in the Federal Courts probably won't be changing much and the hardships and harsh sentences imposed in Methamphetamine cases will probably continue.

No matter how the Supreme Court's approach to Federal Sentencing impacts future sentences people who are directly or indirectly involved in the Methamphetamine culture need to understand some of the "ENHANCEMENTS" that can significantly impact their lives and their loved ones when they make decisions to become more or less involved in Methamphetamine and the culture that surrounds it.

The definition of "ENHANCEMENT" I will use for this article is: any secondary impact on an individual outside normal sentencing. There are three main types of enhancements: actual increases in the sentencing guidelines, statutory enchantments set forth by other laws and miscellaneous bad things that are common following a drug conviction or arrest.

Some guideline enhancements are: 1) If the person charged is a "Leader"; 2) If the person uses a position of trust (teacher, jailer, parent etc); 3) If a person uses a minor to commit the crime; 4) If the person "obstructs justice" (lies to a probation officer, etc.); 5) If a dangerous weapon is present; 6) If a private plane is used; 7) If the drugs go into a jail. I'm not going to bore you more. Let's just leave by saying the sentences described in my first two articles can get harsher.

Outside the actual guidelines are some other problems. If a gun is used in the furtherance of a drug felony the consequences are an additional 5 years on top of your drug sentence. Just to take the insanity one step further, this enhancement increases at the rate of 25 years for each additional gun. Message being: when you're deciding if you want to collect guns and you're involved in the drug culture, think twice.

The United States in a criminal or civil proceeding can require forfeiture of any asset used to "further" a drug crime. Mom, who stores drugs at her home for her son the drug dealer, loses her home and goes to jail. Dad or friend who loans the family car to a drug dealer who uses it to "further" a drug crime loses the car. So you could be a perfectly innocent bystander and lose a major asset because it was used in "furthering" a drug crime. This will not build friendships.

Finally, here are some of the most horrible and least considered consequences. If you and your spouse are arrested by the federal government for a drug crime you probably won't get bond. You will probably sit in a jail for six months to a year waiting for trial. This time in jail without bond can cause loss of possessions you are buying on credit, with subsequent destruction of your credit and, worse yet, your children in many circumstances will go into custody of the State. Simple message: the things you really care about can be gone before you even get a trial.

In closing, drugs, especially Methamphetamine, are becoming a prevalent part of many people's life style in Natrona County. Whether you're a user, a dealer or simply a friend or loved one of someone involved in illegal drug use, you have decisions to make. The decisions are yours. Proper decisions can only be made by weighing the risks and benefits of our actions. Hopefully now you understand some of the risks.

Email me at tsedar@vcn.com

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