Drug Crime Lawyer in Las Cruces

New Mexico Drug Laws and Penalties

Drug crimes are heavily prosecuted throughout the State of New Mexico. Even on a first offense, you could end up with jail time upon conviction. Penalties for drug possession, distribution, or trafficking are extensive and can impact your entire life. 

It is important to understand your rights if you are arrested for or charged with a drug crime in Las Cruces. An arrest for a drug offense does not have to result in a conviction. There are a number of defenses that may apply to your case. It is strongly recommended that you speak with an attorney prior to going to court for any drug-related offense in New Mexico.

At The Aranda Law Firm, we understand the severe consequences of a drug crime conviction. That is why we work tirelessly on behalf of our clients to secure the best possible outcome. Contact our office today to speak with an experienced drug crime defense lawyer in Las Cruces. (575) 386-5100

Drug Offenses in New Mexico

In New Mexico, drug crimes are codified under the New Mexico Statutes. Section 30-31-23 makes it unlawful for a person to possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription or order of a practitioner. The penalties for simple possession are steep depending on the type and amount of the drug possessed.

Common drug offenses in New Mexico:

  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Minor in possession of a controlled substance
  • Possession of marijuana
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Distribution of a controlled substance
  • Distribution of a controlled substance to a minor
  • Manufacturing of a controlled substance
  • Possession with intent to deliver or manufacture a controlled substance
  • Delivery of a controlled substance
  • Trafficking of a controlled substance


Each of these crimes carries with it substantial penalties upon conviction. Even the accusation that you have committed a drug crime can deeply impact nearly every aspect of your life.

Drug Crime Penalties in Las Cruces

Under New Mexico’s Controlled Substances Act, drugs are classified into five schedules. Drugs listed in Schedule I have a high potential for abuse and have no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or lack the accepted safety for use in treatment with medical supervision. 

Schedule V drugs, on the other hand, have a currently accepted medical use, and the abuse of the substance may only lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence. Penalties for drug crimes usually depend on which schedule the controlled substance is listed under and the amount of drug found in possession. 

In general you could face up to a year in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000 for a first offense possession conviction. However, some possession offenses are charged as felonies and punishable by up to 18 months in prison.

Marijuana Possession and Distribution Laws in New Mexico

The recreational and medical use of marijuana is legal in New Mexico for individuals who are over the age of 21. However, adults may only possess up to two ounces of the drug without facing a penalty. 

Penalties for possession and distribution of marijuana in New Mexico:

  • Possession of over two ounces but less than eight ounces of marijuana: Misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of $100 to $1,000 and imprisonment for less than one year.
  • Possession of eight ounces or more of marijuana: Fourth-degree felony offense punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
  • Distribution of marijuana: This misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.


Penalties may be increased if a person is found guilty of distributing the drug to a minor or near a school or daycare. It is important to note that state law does allow the cultivation of up to six mature plants, but any amount beyond that could result in a felony conviction.

Defenses to Drug Crimes in Las Cruces

There are a number of defenses that may arise in your New Mexico drug case. Before signing a plea agreement or going to court, you should consult with a Las Cruces criminal defense attorney to determine your legal options. 

Defenses to drug crimes in Las Cruces:

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of possession
  • Violation of your constitutional rights
  • The evidence is inadmissible
  • Mistaken identity
  • Entrapment


These are only a few of the many defenses that may help in your case. Due to the significant penalties that drug crimes carry upon conviction, all defenses should be thoroughly explored. The stigma of a drug conviction is difficult to overcome and should not be entered into lightly without the aid of legal representation.

What to Do After an Arrest for a Drug Offense in New Mexico

If you are arrested for a drug crime in New Mexico, it is important to exercise your rights. First, you have the right to remain silent. You do not and, in most cases, should not answer questions about the case without an attorney present. What you say can and will be used against you.

Secondly, you have the right to an attorney. You should exercise this right immediately. At The Aranda Law Firm, our criminal defense lawyers can help guide you through the criminal process and work to ensure that you do not incriminate yourself. We will work to get you the most favorable disposition possible in your case, including a reduction or dismissal of the charges when possible. Contact us online or call (575) 386-5100 today to schedule a consultation.

Close up of addict buying dose from drug dealer