Federal Drug Charges

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An experienced team of attorneys explains federal drug charges.

Almost any drug-related case can carry federal drug charges because drug-related crimes can be prosecuted by both the state and the federal government. Federal drug charges are often more strict than state charges and are subject to mandatory minimum sentences. If you’re facing federal drug charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today.

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Experienced Federal Drug Charges lawyers in Springfield, MO

Federal Drug Charges

Federal drug charges can be assessed to anyone who appears to be involved with illegal drugs, whether they are using them, selling them, or transporting them. This is because many drugs are outlawed at the federal level by the Controlled Substances Act. No matter your exact situation, even the appearance of involvement with drugs can result in quite serious federal criminal charges.

Controlled substances such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, various types of methamphetamines, and opiates (street-drug opiates and prescription opiates, if they are not yours) are prohibited under federal and state regulation. Drug crimes can be especially challenging, as you can be charged in state and federal courts for the same event.

You may have heard of the concept of “double jeopardy,” that you cannot be charged twice with the same crime. This does not apply when you are being charged by two different levels of government, for example, state and federal. In this case, the concept of dual sovereignty applies, meaning that two or more sovereign entities (e.g. state government and federal government, or two different states) can prosecute an individual for something.

If you are facing federal drug charges, the very best thing you can do to help yourself is to contact a criminal defense attorney familiar with federal drug charges. Carver, Cantin and Mynarich are criminal defense lawyers in Springfield, MO who have experience fighting federal charges.

What Are Federal Charges for Drug Cases?

If you have been notified about involvement in a federal crime you may be wondering, what are federal charges? You may have already been prosecuted by your state court system, so you might think the worst is over. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

Sometimes, your case may begin in state court but as an investigation evolves, the U.S. government might assume the prosecution. This can mean you are possibly vulnerable to more serious punishment for the exact same offense.

Individual states and federal authorities have the capacity to punish individuals for criminal offenses since each uses its own independent court system.  Any crimes which involve a breach of federal statutes or the United States Constitution are within the U.S. court system’s authority and will consequently be prosecuted in federal courts.

Federal offenses nearly always carry stricter sentences than their state counterparts and may expose an individual to a lengthy prison sentence, costly fines, and an inability to work in certain jobs. It’s crucial for accused people to hire an equally skilled and aggressive defense attorney in order to maximize their odds of success in court since federal prosecutors often seek harsh punishments and have years of experience with similar cases.

Federal Drug Charges and Penalties

A key consideration when facing federal drug charges is that unlike most states, the federal government has established mandatory minimum sentences. This usually means that what is a little infraction based on state laws may result in a lengthy prison sentence based on federal court decisions.

Aside from mandatory sentences in federal prison, you will find additional federal penalties for federal drug charges.  Listed below are some of the most common examples:

  1. Forfeiture of Personal Property and Real Estate: If you are convicted of a serious federal drug offense, you may be required to give the United States government any and all property (home, vehicle, etc.) that is related to the violation.
  2. Denial of Federal Benefits: If convicted, you might lose federal benefits such as school loans, grants, contracts, and/or federal licenses. The time period for which these benefits are taken away depends on how many prior federal drug offenses you have, if any.
  3. Civil Penalties: Even if criminal charges for a federal drug offense are not heard in court, you may be charged civil penalties of up to $10,000. This penalty is typically seen in possession cases where the amount of drugs held is small.

Finally, punishments for federal drug charges vary according to the quantity of the controlled substance involved, your prior convictions, and other special circumstances. For instance, if death or serious bodily injury is a result of using the drug you are accused of distributing, you would face a prison term of 20 years through life in prison.

Federal Drug Crime Laws

Federal drug crime laws are contained within a specific section of the United States code which deals with food and drug regulations. The US began to outlaw addictive drugs in the early 1900s with the Food and Drugs Act of 1906. However, the federal drug crime laws most of us know today come from the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, more commonly known as the Controlled Substances Act.

Drug trafficking is one of the most common federal drug crimes. According to Title 21 of the U.S. Code, chapter 13, section 841, it is unlawful for a person to knowingly or intentionally “manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance; or create, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to distribute or dispense, a counterfeit substance.” This law is referring to drug trafficking.

The possible punishment you face depends on which illegal drug is in your possession or under your control (in particular, the Schedule of that drug)  along with the amount of controlled substance. If you have more than a specific quantity of a drug, you might be subject to mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug trafficking charges. If you possessed less than the stated amounts, you might face a less harsh sentence for drug possession.

Though drug possession typically carries more lenient sentences than drug trafficking charges, any violation of federal drug crime laws is very serious. An experienced federal criminal lawyer can help.

Federal Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences

Federal mandatory minimum drug sentences are in place for certain crimes. This means that for some drug offenses if you are charged federally, you will be assessed at least a certain amount of time in prison, no exceptions.

In October 2017, The US Sentencing Commission released a new report in late 2017 titled Mandatory Minimum Penalties for Drug Offenses in the Federal Criminal Justice System. This report detailed recent changes in drug offense mandatory minimums and gave updated data on sentences and the impact of these sentences. A few key findings are quoted below:

  • The average sentence for drug offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum was 94 months of imprisonment, more than double the average sentence for offenders whose drug offense did not carry a mandatory minimum (42 months).
  • Half (49.8%) of all federal inmates are drug offenders and three-quarters (72.3%) of those offenders were convicted of a drug offense carrying a mandatory minimum.

These lengthy sentences are just one more reason it’s important to retain an experienced attorney if you are facing federal drug charges.

Federal Drug Sentencing Guidelines Chart

The federal drug sentencing guidelines chart, as it relates to mandatory minimum sentences, is below. This chart shows the amount of a controlled substance that will trigger a mandatory minimum sentence.

Triggering Thresholds for Common Controlled Substances per 21 U.S.C. § 841
Substance5-year Mandatory Minimum10-year Mandatory Minimum
Heroin100 G1 KG
Powder Cocaine500 G5 KG
Cocaine Base (Crack)28 G280 G
Marijuana100 KG1,000 KG
Methamphetamine (pure)5 G50 G
Methamphetamine (mixture)50 G500 G

Schedule 1 Drug Penalties

The Controlled Substances Act is the federal law that controls the creation and sale of drugs like narcotics, hallucinogens, stimulants, and depressants. The Act sorts drugs into five classes or “schedules” according to their potential for misuse and addiction, standing in international treaties, along with any healthcare benefits they may offer.

Broadly speaking, drugs contained in Schedule 1 would be the most regulated, since they’re considered to have no clinical value. Schedule 1 drug penalties are also typically more strict than penalties for possessing or distributing the other classes of drugs.

Some examples of drugs and their schedules are:

  • Schedule 1: Ecstasy, LSD, and heroin. Despite being legal and used for medicinal purposes in some states, Marijuana is also considered a Schedule 1 drug.
  • Schedule 2: Cocaine and methamphetamine.
  • Schedule 3: Anabolic steroids, ketamine, and testosterone.
  • Schedule 4: Prescription drugs including anti-anxiety or sleep-inducing drugs such as Ambien, Xanax, and Valium.
  • Schedule 5: Cough suppressants and some types of cold medicine.

Marijuana, along with a few other drugs, carries standalone sentencing statutes that prescribe special penalties for them.

Federal Drug Crimes

It’s likely you will be charged with federal drug crimes if your supposed crimes:

  • Involved crossing state or national borders or shipping controlled substances via the mail, UPS, or FedEx
  • Were part of an organized criminal enterprise such as a gang
  • Occurred on federal property
  • Involved additional criminal activities such as use/possession of firearms, money laundering, etc.
  • Were investigated by a federal agency such as the FBI or DEA

Another major factor in determining if you will face federal drug charges is the amount of drugs you were dealing with. Small amounts are often handled by the state government, however, the federal government gets involved when the volume of the controlled substance increases.

Trusted Federal Drug Charges lawyers in Missouri.

How Many Years in Jail for Drug Possession?

How many years in jail for drug possession on the federal level really depends on what you are charged with and the particular details of your case. Federal drug cases may use different terms than they do in state cases, however, the concepts are identical. In the U.S. federal court system, the offense of drug possession still exists, as does possession with intent to deliver (a.k.a. intent to sell), delivery of a controlled substance (selling drugs), and trafficking.

The national criminal sentencing process is regulated by the federal sentencing guidelines.  These rules use various things to ascertain the punishment and/or length of sentence for a specific crime.  Normally, the sentences are greater in federal than state court. This corresponds to the fact that the cases are typically more severe. For example, it is rare to observe someone receive probation in federal court. This alone is a reason to hire an excellent federal criminal defense lawyer.

Jail Time for Possession of Drugs

Federal jail time for possession of drugs is outlined in the U.S. sentencing guidelines along with recommended sentences for other federal crimes. The sentencing table categorizes crimes by “Zone” and by the accused person’s number of “Criminal History Points.”

The zone relates to the offense level of your case. There are 43 levels divided into Zones A-D. There are six levels of criminal history. An example of something that might put your federal drug charge into a higher offense level is if you possessed a semiautomatic firearm in connection with your drug crime. You might be placed into a higher criminal history category if you have a number of previous charges against you.

Your zone and criminal history rating are all specific to you and your alleged offense(s). This means jail time for possession of drugs is very dependent on your individual circumstances, and it is hard to predict your outcome without consulting with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.

It is possible for crimes at the lowest zone and level to receive probation, even in federal court. However, such instances are very rare and at the high end of the sentencing table, people can receive life in prison for a federal drug charge.

Experienced Federal Drug Charges attorneys in Springfield, Missouri.

How Much Jail Time for Selling Drugs?

Federal legislators set up mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for drug crimes in 1986 in an effort to target high-volume drug dealers, even though these guidelines also affect lower-level drug defendants.  Many states have adopted a similar {approach|strategy} to drug sentencing. These set sentences are based on the kind of controlled substance, the volume of the drug, any confounding factors in the crime, as well as any previous convictions.

Federal Drug Dealing Charges

Federal drug dealing charges, like other federal drug charges, are governed by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. This means if you have prior convictions (for any crime), you are immediately at risk for longer and tougher sentences at the federal level. Judges have some leeway in determining your sentence for selling controlled substances, but their decision must fall within the guidelines.

If you have been charged with selling drugs, also known as possession with intent to distribute, you are going to want an aggressive, experienced advocate by your side.  Do not hesitate a minute before talking with a knowledgeable lawyer who knows how to poke holes in the prosecution’s case.

Federal Drug Trafficking Sentencing Guidelines

Federal drug trafficking sentencing guidelines mandate fairly serious penalties for trafficking controlled substances. Although the length of sentences for drugs and narcotics cases in the United States federal court system vary all the way from probation to life in prison, it is unheard of to see probation for trafficking.

If probation is given, it is typically for a lower level drug crime such as possession. Even then, the majority of federal controlled substance cases won’t meet the requirements for probation due to mandatory minimum sentences.

Get help now. Federal Drug Charges lawyers are standing by.

Federal Conspiracy Drug Charges Sentencing

Federal criminal drug cases often include the charge of conspiracy.  Essentially, this means that you and another person or persons consented to take part in some type of a drug trade or other offense.  A conspiracy charge means you could be found guilty even if you never saw or handled the controlled substance. If the United States court can demonstrate that you engaged or assisted in any manner, that might be sufficient for you to be charged with federal conspiracy drug charges and sentenced to prison.

You often hear in the news about charges being pressed against a drug dealer’s significant other or family member. This can make the original accused person more likely to confess. Conspiracy charges are a really strong tool which the U.S. government can deploy in these kinds of situations.

How Can You Get Federal Drug Conspiracy Charges Dropped?

It is very difficult to get federal drug conspiracy charges dropped, even with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. However, it is possible to do so if you work with the very best federal defense attorneys and are careful to comply with all conditions set by your attorney or the government.

You may be able to get your sentence reduced if you were previously sentenced for drug trafficking or conspiracy. There is a recent federal law, 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(2), which says the federal court system can modify your sentence if:

  • There are “extraordinary and compelling reasons” for a reduced sentence
  • You are 70 years old or older, have served 30 or more years, and are not a danger to society
  • The sentencing range for your offense has been lowered by the U.S. Sentencing Commission

Our team at Carver, Cantin, and Mynarich have argued many federal drug cases and can help you pursue charges dropped or a sentence reduction.

Don’t delay. Aggressive Federal Drug Charges lawyers help now.

What Is a Federal Drug Indictment?

A federal drug indictment is a method of charging someone with a  federal drug felony after a complaint was filed. After receiving the complaint, the U.S. attorney’s office will introduce evidence in front of a grand jury.  The grand jury is a private proceeding, neither the suspect nor their counsel can take part.

During the grand jury, the United States attorney doesn’t need to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard in a grand jury is a far lower one.  The grand jury will determine whether there’s probable cause to proceed with the case. As a result of this minimal standard, all but the very weakest cases bring about a true bill of indictment.

After receiving the true bill of indictment, the federal drug charges will be brought to a federal trial court.

Federal Drug Indictment Attorneys

If you are facing a federal drug indictment, it is critical to retain federal drug indictment attorneys ASAP. Even if your case has not yet reached federal trial court, you can be fairly certain that the time will come when you need an attorney to defend you. It is best to prepare early: contact Carver, Cantin, and Mynarich today.

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