Federal Drug-Related Crimes: What To Know

Federal drug-related crimes: what to know

When someone is charged with a federal drug-related crime, they're facing critical legal battles that can change their lives forever. These crimes include a wide range of illegal activities, from simple possession to complex drug trafficking networks.

The federal government takes these offenses seriously, so the penalties are often severe. You should know the scope of these laws and the consequences of being convicted for anyone involved.

At Perlman Defense Federal Criminal Lawyers, we know the pervasive nature of drugs on the streets. According to the American Addiction Center, drug-related crime statistics show that about one out of every six Americans over the age of 12 has battled drug abuse in the past.

We seek to provide you with the strong defense you deserve, exploring every possible avenue for your defense while defending your rights. Learn more below. Then, contact us for a free case consultation.

Overview of Federal Drug Laws

Federal drug laws aim to control the possession, manufacturing, distribution, and trafficking of controlled substances. Various federal agencies enforce these laws and include strict regulations that classify drugs into different schedules based on their potential for abuse and medical use.

Penalties for these crimes can vary greatly depending on the type and amount of drug and the specific activities involved. Recognizing these laws is the first step in navigating the complex landscape of federal drug crime defense.

Federal laws outline what constitutes a drug crime and set the framework for prosecuting and punishing drug crimes. These laws are designed to deter drug use and distribution by imposing harsh penalties on those who break them.

Defendants and their families must be aware of the legal definitions and the potential consequences of drug charges under federal law.

Common Types of Drug-Related Crimes

Common types of drug related-crimes

Federal drug laws cover a wide range of criminal activities. Here's a closer look at the most common criminal behavior and federal drug-related crimes.

Possession of Controlled Substances

Possession of controlled substances is illegal under federal law unless authorized by prescription. If you're caught with drugs that you're not legally allowed to have, you could face drastic penalties.

Federal law classifies drugs into five "schedules" based on their potential for abuse and their accepted medical use. The penalties for possession can vary based on the quantity and type of drug. For example, marijuana possession may not have the same penalties as cocaine possession.

According to the United States Code, Title 21, Section 844, possessing a controlled substance can result in fines and imprisonment. For a first offense, the maximum penalty is up to one year in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000.

Repeat offenders face stiffer penalties, with the possibility of increased fines and federal prison time. We will do everything possible to mitigate the charges against you and potential penalties.

Drug Trafficking and Distribution

Drug trafficking and drug distribution refer to the selling, transportation, and illegal import of controlled substances. This crime is treated very heavily and carries some of the harshest penalties under federal law.

Trafficking charges can apply regardless of whether the individual personally crossed state lines, as long as the drugs did. Drug smuggling charges are always grievous, and you need to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.

Under the United States Code, Title 21, Section 841, penalties for drug trafficking can range from five years to life imprisonment, depending on the quantity and type of drug, as well as whether any death or extreme injury occurred.

Fines can also be exceedingly high, reaching up to $10 million for individuals and $50 million for non-individuals. Please know that the penalties can vary widely depending on the situation. However, these penalties are always grievous, so you need to contact us as soon as possible to help with your defense.

Drug Manufacturing

Manufacturing drugs involves producing, preparing, or processing controlled substances. This includes growing marijuana plants or creating synthetic drugs in labs. Federal laws aim to crack down on large-scale and smaller personal growth operations.

As per the United States Code, Title 21, Section 841, the penalties for drug manufacturing are similar to those for trafficking, with severe penalties for large quantities or manufacturing that results in death or acute injury. Convictions can lead to decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

Drug Conspiracy

Drug conspiracy involves an agreement between two or more individuals to participate in illegal drug activities. Even if the drug crime was not completed, simply agreeing to commit a drug crime can result in a conspiracy charge. This makes it a broad and commonly used charge in federal drug cases.

According to the United States Code, Title 21, Section 846, conspiracy to commit drug trafficking involves the same penalties as actually committing the trafficking itself, regardless of the stage of completion.

This can mean severe federal sentences, even for those who were only marginally involved or who did not handle the drugs. The exact penalties will depend on the nature of the drug and the amount involved. Most convictions result in ten years to life in prison.

Legal Process for Federal Drug-related Crimes

Legal process for federal drug-related crimes

The legal process for handling federal drug-related crimes is structured and follows specific procedures from arrest to sentencing.

Investigation and Arrest

Federal drug crime investigations often begin long before the actual arrest. Agencies like the DEA and FBI use surveillance and informants to gather evidence. Once they have enough evidence, they will make an arrest.

Bail and Detention Hearings

After an arrest, the next step is the bail hearing, where a judge decides if the accused can be released before the trial. Factors like the risk of fleeing and the nature of the crime influence this decision. Those accused of violent crimes may be more likely to face a higher bail.

Role of Federal Agencies (DEA, FBI)

The DEA and FBI play important roles in enforcing federal drug laws. They conduct investigations, collect evidence, and assist in prosecution efforts against individuals involved in drug-related crimes. If you are accused of crimes involving illegal drugs, they might be involved in your case.

Gathering Evidence and Surveillance

Evidence gathering is a critical part of prosecuting drug crimes. This may involve physical surveillance, wiretaps, and other monitoring forms to build a case against the accused. They may also look for evidence of drug abuse and drug addiction during the investigation.

Initial Court Appearance and Arraignment

The initial court appearance and arraignment follow the arrest. The charges are formally presented during arraignment, and the defendant will plead guilty. We will be with you, advising you on what to say and how to act.

Pre-Trial Motions and Hearings

Pre-trial motions and hearings determine which evidence can be presented at trial, among other legal issues. This stage is vital for shaping the trial's proceedings.

Motion to Suppress Evidence

A motion to suppress evidence can be filed if the evidence was illegally obtained. If successful, the evidence cannot be used at trial, which can considerably impact the prosecution's case. For example, if evidence of drug possession or substance abuse was illegally obtained, we may push to get that evidence thrown out.

Plea Bargains and Negotiations

Plea bargains involve the defendant agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence. These negotiations are a common way to resolve cases without a trial.

Trial Process

Both sides present their evidence and arguments if the case goes to trial. The jury then decides whether the defendant is guilty or not based on the evidence presented. We will present evidence that seeks to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors.


If found guilty, the sentencing phase will determine the punishment, which can include prison time, fines, or other penalties, based on the severity of the crime.

Common Defenses Against Drug-Related Crimes

Common Defenses Against Drug-Related Crimes

Several defenses can be used to contest federal drug-related charges.

Unlawful Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment protects you against unlawful search and seizure. Evidence obtained without a proper warrant or reasonable cause might be excluded from the trial.

Lack of Possession or Knowledge

A common defense is that the defendant did not actually possess the drugs or was not aware of their presence. This can be applicable in cases where drugs were uncovered in a shared vehicle or residence.


Entrapment occurs when law enforcement causes a person to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. If entrapment can be proven, the charges may be dropped.

Insufficient Evidence

The prosecution must prove every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The charges might be dismissed if the evidence does not meet this standard.

Violation of Constitutional Rights

If a defendant's constitutional rights were violated during the investigation or trial, it could lead to the dismissal of charges or other remedies.

Perlman Defense Federal Criminal Lawyers Will Defend Your Rights

Facing federal drug-related charges can be daunting and life-altering. At Perlman Defense Federal Criminal Lawyers, we comprehend the gravity of your situation and are prepared to defend your rights with vigor and expertise. We believe in a robust defense strategy that challenges every aspect of the prosecution's case.

Our team is committed to providing you with the best possible defense. We will explore every angle, from challenging the legality of evidence to negotiating plea deals in your best interest. Let us stand by your side and fight for your future. We are aware of the grave nature of federal criminal charges. We are here to fight for you every step of the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I am under investigation for a federal drug crime?

If you believe you are under investigation, call a lawyer immediately. Do not speak to investigators without legal representation present.

Can federal drug charges be dropped?

Yes, in some cases, federal drug offenses and drug-related offenses can be dropped. It all depends on the circumstances of your case.

What are my rights during a federal drug investigation?

You have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Use these rights and do not provide any statements to law enforcement without your lawyer present.

Contact Our Los Angeles Drug Crimes Lawyer for a Free Case Consultation

Contact our Los Angeles drug crimes lawyer for a free case consultation

If you or a loved one is facing federal drug charges, you should seek experienced legal help. Contact Perlman Defense Federal Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your case.

We are here to help you understand your legal options and to provide the aggressive defense you need. Give us a call today to schedule a free case consultation.

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