Federal agencies like the DEA and FBI are under a great deal of pressure to aggressively investigate drug-related crimes and federal prosecutors are also under considerable pressure to bring federal drug offenders to justice. The United States has declared a “war on drugs,” and federal drug crimes are therefore among the most difficult cases to defend, which is why we always encourage defendants in federal drug cases to hire a qualified federal drug crimes defense lawyer right away after being arrested by federal agents or discovering that they are a suspect or target in a federal drug crime investigation. If you are facing federal charges for a drug-related offense like drug trafficking, drug manufacturing or drug smuggling, your freedom, your future, and your financial well-being are at risk. Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation with our reputable drug crime defense lawyers.
Skilled Federal Drug Crime Defense Attorneys
Any time you are facing drug charges at the federal level, you need a defense lawyer in your corner who has extensive experience handling cases like yours in federal court. The federal court process is very different from the state court process, as are the sentencing requirements for federal convictions, and you are putting yourself at a great disadvantage if you don’t retain the services of a practiced federal crimes attorney. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, we represent clients in drug-related criminal cases in federal courts across the United States and our reputation for skilled, aggressive legal representation is backed by thousands of satisfied clients. The sooner you retain our legal services, the sooner we can get to work defending your rights, and the more likely you are to be successful in your case.
Common Types of Drug Charges
There are laws at the state and federal level that penalize drug-related offenses, and accusations of manufacturing, smuggling or trafficking illicit drugs or controlled substances can lead to criminal charges being filed in federal court. Some common types of drug crimes that can result in federal charges include the following:
Even if you don’t actually go through with committing a drug-related crime, but you are accused of making an agreement with one or more other people to commit the crime in question, you can still face federal criminal charges for drug conspiracy. If you are accused of committing a drug crime that is in some way tied to a criminal organization or enterprise, you could also face federal racketeering charges under the RICO Act.
What are Controlled Substances?
Controlled substances are drugs or chemicals whose manufacture, use and possession are regulated by the federal government. This includes both illicit drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine and prescription medications like Adderall and Xanax. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) puts all of the controlled substances regulated by the federal government into one of five schedules based on each substance’s currently accepted medical use, potential for abuse and how likely it is that abuse of the substance will lead to dependence. These controlled substances schedules are as follows:
- Schedule I – Drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse (marijuana, heroin, LSD, ecstasy)
- Schedule II – Drugs with a currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse (cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, Adderall, Ritalin)
- Schedule III – Drugs with a currently accepted medical use and a potential for abuse that is lower than the drugs in Schedules I and II (testosterone, anabolic steroids, ketamine, Tylenol with codeine)
- Schedule IV – Drugs with a currently accepted medical use and a potential for abuse that is lower than the drugs in Schedule III (Xanax, Valium, Ambien, Tramadol)
- Schedule V – Drugs with a currently accepted medical use and a potential for abuse that is lower than the drugs in Schedule IV (Lyrica, Robitussin AC, Lomotil)
It is important to note that the DEA still considers marijuana a Schedule I drug, even though California and many other states have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medical use.
What Makes a Drug Crime a Federal Offense?
Facing charges for any federal criminal offense can be stressful and confusing, but drug crimes can be especially tricky to navigate, because they can result in criminal charges being brought in state or federal court, or both. In many cases, drug arrests are made by local authorities and drug charges are filed at the state level, but there are certain specific circumstances that can result in drug crimes being charged at the federal level. For instance, if a federal agent makes a drug arrest or if local law enforcement is working with federal authorities on a drug case, the drug crime will almost always be charged as a federal offense. Or, if the drug crime crosses state lines or international borders or involves a quantity of drugs above a certain specified amount, the drug charge may become federal. Federal drug cases are aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the United States government and as a result, the penalties for a drug crime conviction at the federal level are significantly more severe than the penalties at the state level.
Penalties for Federal Drug Crimes
Criminal offenses involving illegal drugs and controlled substances carry harsh penalties under federal law and if you are convicted of such a crime in federal court, you could face significant fines, a lengthy prison sentence, or both. When sentencing individuals who have been convicted of federal drug crimes, judges are required to consider the federal sentencing guidelines, which set forth a “very precise calibration of sentences,” depending on several different factors, including the “subjective guilt of the defendant” and the harm caused by the offense. Furthermore, many federal drug crime convictions carry a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment, which range from imprisonment for a year to a life sentence, and because the parole system has been eliminated for federal crimes, individuals convicted of federal drug crimes typically serve long prison sentences.
The specific criminal penalties for drug-related crimes prosecuted at the federal level vary depending on a number of different factors, including the type and amount of the drugs involved, the defendant’s criminal record and any aggravating circumstances that increase the severity of the offense. The following are some examples of drug-related offenses and the penalties assigned to the offenses by federal law.
Drug Trafficking – 21 U.S. Code § 841
If you are convicted of drug trafficking under 21 U.S. Code § 841, which makes it a crime “(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,” and the crime involves one kilogram or more of heroin, you could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment. If death or serious injury results from the drug crime, which is an example of an aggravating circumstance, you could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Drug Importation – 21 U.S. Code § 952
If you are convicted of importing a controlled substance under 21 U.S. Code § 952, which makes it a crime to unlawfully and without proper authorization “import into the customs territory of the United States from any place outside thereof (but within the United States), or to import into the United States from any place outside thereof, any controlled substance,” and the crime involves 100 grams or more of heroin, you could face a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. If death or serious injury results from the crime, you could face a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment.
Presenting a Strong Defense Against Federal Drug Charges
The federal government has taken a strong stand against drug-related crimes and fighting drug charges in federal court can feel like an uphill battle, but it is important to remember that an arrest for a drug crime is not the same thing as a conviction. If your drug case goes to trial, it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime, which means establishing each individual “element” of the crime to the extent that there can be no other reasonable explanation for the evidence presented at trial except that you committed the crime. For instance, to get a conviction for unlawful drug importation under 21 U.S. Code § 952, the following elements must be present:
- You played a role in bringing a quantity of a controlled substance into the country,
- You knew the substance was a controlled substance, and
- You knew the controlled substance would enter the country.
It is the prosecution’s main objective to convict you of the crime you are accused of committing, but you cannot lawfully be convicted of a crime unless the prosecution can prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A good defense attorney will examine the evidence collected by the prosecution and the evidence collected during his or her own investigation and develop a credible defense strategy that explains your actions or lays out a different story entirely. By challenging the prosecution’s evidence and proposing an alternative version of events, your attorney may be able to raise reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury, which could be all it takes to get an acquittal. In many federal drug cases, the most effective defense is the one that begins as early as possible, so don’t wait to retain legal counsel.
How Our Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
The federal criminal justice system is notoriously tough on drug offenders and if you are facing criminal charges for a drug-related offense in federal court, the stakes are higher than ever. Our defense attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Pro have been representing defendants in federal drug cases for years and we know what it takes to develop a winning defense strategy to fight drug-related charges brought by the federal government. We believe that all defendants in criminal cases have a right to competent, knowledgeable legal representation, and we will go above and beyond to ensure that you get the best outcome possible based on the circumstances of your case.
When you hire Federal Criminal Defense Pro, our defense lawyers will do everything in their power to develop a winning defense in your case. Not only will we conduct our own investigation into your charges and advise you of your rights under the law, we will deal with the federal authorities on your behalf, and, if we conclude that a conviction would be likely if your case goes to trial, we will work tirelessly to negotiate a favorable plea agreement with the prosecution and secure a reduction in charges or a shorter sentence, and avoid a trial altogether. If we determine that a trial is in your best interest, however, we will go up against the government with the full force of our legal team. Attorney Daniel R. Perlman is a former prosecutor with years of experience fighting for the rights of the criminally accused in California and across the country, and he knows how to win a federal drug case.
Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro Today
There are few things in life more stressful and frightening than being accused of a federal drug crime like drug manufacturing, drug trafficking or drug smuggling. The criminal penalties associated with federal drug charges are extraordinarily harsh and the personal and professional consequences of a drug crime conviction can follow you for the rest of your life, not to mention the stigma that comes with being a convicted drug offender. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges for a federal drug offense, don’t wait to get legal help from an experienced defense attorney who is familiar with federal criminal law and the minimum sentencing requirements for drug cases. Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro today to have a seasoned, trial-tested drug crimes defense lawyer review your case.