Drug-related crimes like drug distribution involve the possession, manufacture or distribution of illegal drugs or controlled substances classified as having a potential for abuse. Selling, transporting or importing illicit drugs, or illegally distributing narcotics or prescription medications without authorization, is a violation of both state and federal law, and the consequences of a federal drug distribution conviction can change the course of the rest of your life. According to national statistics, roughly 40% of all federal prosecutions are for drug crimes like drug distribution, which can carry a prison sentence of 10 years to life and fines amounting to millions of dollars, among other potential penalties. In fact, nearly all serious federal drug crimes are subject to mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which are statutes that establish specified minimum prison terms for specific federal crimes. If you have been arrested or formally charged with drug distribution, or if you believe you may be under investigation for drug distribution or drug trafficking, the most important thing you can do is hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to represent your case. Contact Daniel R. Perlman and his team of accomplished criminal defense lawyers at Federal Criminal Defense Pro today to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation.
Affordable Federal Drug Distribution Defense Attorney
Drug-related crimes in the United States are prosecuted and punished extremely harshly under federal law and successfully beating federal criminal charges for drug distribution requires the knowledge and expertise of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Los Angeles defense lawyer Daniel Perlman has years of experience representing clients in drug cases in both state and federal court and has a clear understanding of the state and federal legal systems. The federal government is notoriously tough on drug-related crimes like drug distribution and drug trafficking, and federal drug charges are among the most difficult charges to defend, which is why you need an attorney in your corner who has proven himself in federal court. The legal team at Federal Criminal Defense Pro specializes in representing clients in a wide range of federal drug cases, and with an established record of success handling federal drug prosecutions, Daniel Perlman is the lawyer you want defending you against federal drug distribution charges.
What is Drug Distribution?
Drug distribution is the crime of selling, drug manufacturing, delivering or importing illegal drugs or unlawful controlled substances, such as marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine or cocaine. Under 21 U.S.C. § 841, it is unlawful for any person “knowingly or intentionally– (1) to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance; or (2) to create, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to distribute or dispense, a counterfeit substance.” This federal law also applies to the illegal sale or distribution of narcotics or prescription drugs, such as oxycodone, amphetamines, fentanyl and hydromorphone.
What is a Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance is a drug or chemical whose possession, manufacture or use is regulated by the government, including illicit drugs and prescription medications that may be abused or cause addiction. The federal Controlled Substances Act categorizes controlled substances into the following schedules:
- Schedule I means the drug has no currently accepted medical use and is highly addictive. This schedule includes marijuana, ecstasy, heroin and LSD.
- Schedule II means the drug has certain medical uses but is highly addictive and may lead to drug dependence. This schedule includes morphine, cocaine, Vicodin, oxycodone and Adderall.
- Schedule III means the drug has acceptable medical uses and has a low potential for abuse and a moderate risk of dependence. This schedule includes Tylenol with codeine, testosterone and anabolic steroids.
- Schedule IV means the drug has accepted medical uses and a low potential for abuse or dependence relative to Schedule III. This schedule includes Xanax, Ambien and Valium.
- Schedule V means the drug has accepted medical uses and a low potential for abuse or dependence relative to Schedule IV. This schedule includes Lyrica and cough suppressants.
When is Drug Distribution a Federal Offense?
Possessing, manufacturing or selling controlled substances in California is a crime under both state and federal law, and federal criminal charges may come into play if you are arrested by a federal officer, or if you are accused of distributing large quantities of drugs, or of transporting, delivering or importing the drugs across state lines. For example, federal drug distribution charges often occur when a person attempts to sell drugs to an undercover federal agent. Possessing an illegal drug or unlawful controlled substance is a crime, but selling without authorization, distributing, or possessing with the intent to sell or distribute an illegal drug or unlawful controlled substance is a felony offense carrying much more severe penalties. Generally speaking, most drug possession charges in California are prosecuted at the state level, while drug manufacturing, distribution, and trafficking charges are more likely to be tried in the federal court system.
Penalties for a Drug Distribution Conviction
Drug crimes are punished harshly in California and across the country, and whether this is your first drug-related offense, or you are a repeat offender, you can expect to face severe penalties for a federal drug distribution conviction, including a significant term of imprisonment. In fact, federal drug cases usually involve mandatory minimum prison sentences, which are established by the federal sentencing guidelines and require that a defendant convicted of a federal drug crime serves a minimum term in prison, rather than leaving the sentencing up to the judge overseeing the case.
Drug distribution is similar in nature to the crime of drug trafficking and the same federal statute prohibits these two drug crimes, which means the punishment associated with drug distribution and drug trafficking is the same. The actual criminal penalties resulting from a drug distribution conviction vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case, including the type and amount of the substances involved, where the alleged distribution took place and the defendant’s criminal history. For instance, if you are charged with distributing 100 grams or more of PCP or 10 grams or more of LSD as a federal offense, you could face a prison term of 10 years to life and $10 million in fines, and if death or serious injury results from the use of the drug or controlled substance, you could face an increased minimum sentence of 20 years to life in prison. If you have a prior conviction for a felony drug offense, you could face a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for the same crime.
In addition to a lengthy prison sentence and costly fines, individuals convicted of drug distribution in federal court may face other significant penalties, possibly including forfeiture of their vehicles, cash, homes and other personal property.
Federal Drug Distribution Defense
Just because you have been accused of drug distribution does not necessarily mean you will be convicted of the crime. In fact, there are a number of potential defenses that can be presented in court to fight drug distribution charges. For instance, even if the prosecution has what appears to be irrefutable evidence proving that you are guilty of the crime of drug distribution, if the police failed to follow proper procedure in obtaining the evidence against you, your attorney may be able to get the evidence suppressed, which could result in the criminal charges being dropped. In order to be legally convicted of the crime of drug distribution, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following “elements” of the crime:
- You knowingly possessed an illegal drug or controlled substance; and
- You did so with the intent to sell, deliver or distribute the substance illegally.
For the purposes of proving that you committed the crime of drug distribution, “possessing” an illegal drug or controlled substance does not necessarily require that you had physical possession of the drug, only that you had “constructive” possession, meaning you had the power and intention to exercise control over the drug. Furthermore, the distribution element of a drug distribution charge can be met even if you never actually transported, sold or delivered the drug. So long as you intended to distribute or dispense the drug, you can be found guilty of drug distribution under federal law.
Defense Strategies for Drug Distribution Charges
The most common drug charge is possession and in order for a drug possession charge to be elevated to distribution, the defendant must be accused of selling, delivering or distributing the drugs illegally, rather than simply possessing them for personal use, which carries a lesser penalty. Many drug distribution charges arise from situations in which the prosecution has only circumstantial evidence of the defendant’s intent to distribute, rather than solid proof that the defendant engaged in the sale or distribution of a controlled substance. For instance, if you are caught with a large amount of heroin in your possession, or a large amount of cash from alleged heroin sales, you could face distribution charges, even if you aren’t caught actually selling or distributing the drugs. This leaves room for your criminal defense attorney to challenge the prosecutor’s case by raising a compelling defense that refutes his or her version of events. Some possible strategies your attorney may be able to use to defend against drug distribution charges include the following:
- You were unaware of the illicit nature of the substance
- You were not in possession of the substance
- You were the victim of entrapment
- You have a legal prescription for the substance
- The prosecution’s evidence was obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure
- The prosecution’s evidence was tampered with
- The prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt
- You had no intent to sell or distribute the drugs
- The arresting officer did not have probable cause to arrest you
Why Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Whatever the circumstances of your case, drug distribution is a serious criminal offense requiring the expertise of a reputable criminal defense attorney. When you hire our legal team at Federal Criminal Defense Pro, we will not only ensure that you understand the charges against you and advise you of your legal options, we will investigate the facts of your case, deal with the police and federal drug agents on your behalf, negotiate with federal prosecutors, work to secure dismissal of the criminal charges, file the appropriate motions to challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you, and, if your case goes to court, aggressively represent you at trial. Our experienced federal criminal defense attorneys will be your most trusted legal advocates and advisors throughout the duration of your case.
Even if you have not yet been arrested or charged with a crime, you should contact criminal defense lawyer Daniel Perlman immediately if you have reason to believe you may be a suspect in a federal drug crime. Our attorneys understand how devastating a drug distribution conviction would be for you and your loved ones, and we will do everything in our power to protect your rights and represent your best interests. Daniel Perlman and his team of criminal defense lawyers can represent drug distribution cases in state court in Los Angeles or anywhere else in California, and in federal courts across the United States, so don’t hesitate to call Federal Criminal Defense Pro if you are facing criminal charges for drug distribution.
Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro for Legal Help
There are few things in life more frightening and shocking than being arrested for or accused of a federal drug crime. The legal consequences of a federal drug conviction are severe and even after you have served your time in prison, paid the necessary fines and satisfied the other requirements of your criminal punishment, being labeled a drug offender can have personal and professional consequences that can follow you for the rest of your life, possibly affecting your ability to obtain certain employment and housing, among other serious repercussions. If you or someone you love has been charged with drug distribution, drug trafficking, or any other drug-related charge, do not hesitate to hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to represent your case. Federal Criminal Defense Pro handles all manner of drug-related cases in Los Angeles, the State of California and across the country, and we can help you fight your federal drug distribution charges today.