Federal Drug Cases
A federal drug conviction, whether for trafficking, distribution or importation/exportation, can mean serious prison time and other life-changing criminal penalties for alleged offenders. All drug crimes are considered state and federal offenses and any person arrested for a drug-related crime in California can end up facing charges in the federal court system, where the consequences of a conviction are far more severe.
If you have been arrested for a federal drug crime or if you have reason to believe that you may be involved in a federal investigation, contact the federal drug crimes attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers as soon as possible to discuss the best way to proceed with your defense. The decisions you make now can have a significant impact on your future, so don’t wait. You need a lawyer on your side who will aggressively protect your rights and your freedom from the very beginning.
State vs. Federal Drug Crimes
Both federal and California state laws make it a crime to possess, sell, manufacture or distribute certain illicit drugs or controlled substances and you can be arrested by state or federal law enforcement in relation to any drug crime. That being said, it is rare for minor offenses like simple drug possession to be prosecuted by the federal government.
Federal charges are typically reserved for major drug crimes, such as drug trafficking, drug distribution and drug manufacturing, or drug crimes that involve a group of people (i.e. a drug ring), a large quantity of drugs or money, or a federal offense like money laundering. You could also face federal drug charges if you are arrested in connection with a drug crime that was allegedly committed on federal property (such as a military base or national park) or with criminal activity that crosses state lines, or if you are arrested by a federal agent.
If you are facing criminal charges for allegedly traveling from one state to another to buy, sell, obtain or deliver drugs, or for allegedly smuggling drugs across international borders, the case will be prosecuted in federal court. In some cases, federal drug prosecutions may also include charges of drug conspiracy and/or violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Types of Federal Drug Crimes
The federal drug policy that regulates the possession, use, manufacture, distribution and importation of certain narcotics and other controlled substances (drugs or other substances that are controlled by the government because of their potential for abuse and/or addiction) is known as the Controlled Substances Act.
The Controlled Substances Act (Title 21 of the U.S. Code) places all substances regulated by federal law into schedules based on the substance’s potential for abuse, its accepted medical use and the risk of addiction. Any person accused of violating the Controlled Substances Act by illegally manufacturing, distributing, trafficking or smuggling illicit drugs or controlled substances is subject to prosecution.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the agency tasked with enforcing the federal controlled substances laws and regulations, and the penalties associated with any violation of the Act can be severe, depending on the nature of the alleged crime and the quantity of the substances involved, as well as other factors.
If you are facing drug charges for a violation of the Controlled Substances Act, it is imperative that you avoid speaking with law enforcement and seek help from an experienced attorney who can help you navigate your federal drug case. The following are some examples of federal drug cases our team of criminal defense attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers can handle for you:
- Federal Drug Cases
Penalties for Federal Drug Crimes
The punishment that can arise from a conviction in a federal drug case varies depending on the nature of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history and the specific circumstances of the case, including whether the alleged offense involved the use of a firearm and whether anyone was injured. Generally speaking though, the penalties for federal offenses are far more severe than the penalties for state offenses.
For instance, first-time offenders charged under California state laws may have an opportunity to avoid jail time if convicted, while a defendant facing federal drug charges will almost certainly serve time in prison upon conviction. In fact, many federal drug offenses carry lengthy prison sentences with a minimum term of imprisonment of five to 10 years or more.
There are also numerous opportunities for the penalties associated with a federal drug charge to be increased. For example, in drug distribution cases, additional penalties may be imposed upon defendants accused of distributing drugs near a school or on school property or to individuals who are pregnant or under the age of 21, or for using individuals under the age of 18 in a drug operation. The punishment for drug distribution can also be increased if the defendant has a prior conviction or if death or serious bodily injury results from the use of the substance the defendant is accused of distributing.
Collateral Consequences of a Drug Conviction
In addition to possibly serving time in prison and paying substantial fines, the federal government can impose other serious penalties on drug offenders. These penalties are known as “collateral consequences,” and they can include a loss of the right to vote, own a firearm or obtain federal benefits, among others.
Furthermore, the government has the authority to seize any assets related to the alleged violation, such as cars, houses or other personal property the government claims is linked to illegally obtained money. Your family members could even be implicated and subject to seizure orders if they are suspected of knowingly profiting from illegal drug-related activity.
What to Do After Being Arrested for a Federal Drug Crime
The moment you become a criminal suspect, every move you make can have an impact the outcome of your case. Following an arrest on federal drug charges, the single most important thing you can do is exercise your right to remain silent. The second most important thing you can do is contact an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.
Being arrested for a federal drug crime can be a frightening experience, but it is important to remember that you have rights and you are legally presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. No matter what the police say, they are not on your side, nor do they want to help you. They are hoping that if they can get you to talk, you will end up incriminating yourself, and the best way to keep this from happening is to say nothing at all until your attorney is present, even if you are brought in for questioning.
A knowledgeable federal drug crimes attorney can carefully investigate the circumstances of your arrest and sort through the evidence in order to construct a defense that protects your best interests.
Possible Defenses Against Federal Drug Charges
While most arrests for drug crimes are made by state law enforcement officers, many drug-related offenses start out as or turn into federal cases. In fact, it is not uncommon for state drug cases to be bumped up to the federal level based on such factors as where the alleged crime took place, who made the arrest and whether the crime crossed state lines or international borders. Federal drug cases can be complex, and they are best handled by a criminal defense attorney with a proven record of success representing clients in federal court.
In order to get a conviction in a federal drug case, the federal government must be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If our legal team can successfully exclude evidence, poke holes in the prosecution’s case, or otherwise raise doubts in the minds of the jurors that you are guilty of the crime, you have a much better chance of securing a favorable outcome in your case, i.e. an acquittal. The following are some common legal defenses against federal drug charges:
• Illegal search and seizure
• Mistaken identity
• Insufficient evidence
• Chain of custody issues
• Entrapment by federal agents
• Corrupted or fabricated evidence
• Unreliable paid informant
• Faulty crime lab analysis
• Drugs that were planted
• Drugs that belonged to someone else
Contact the Federal Drug Crime Attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers
The state of California and U.S. federal prosecutors take drug crimes extremely seriously and the consequences of a federal drug crime conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life. If you are in need of a knowledgeable, reliable federal drug crimes defense attorney, do not hesitate to call Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers for legal help.
Our criminal defense lawyers know how important it is to develop a swift and strong response to federal drug charges and we are prepared to begin putting together a compelling defense aimed at protecting your rights, proving your innocence and getting the charges against you dropped or reduced. We know how important it is to get the best possible outcome in your federal drug case and we are committed to representing your best interests in court or during negotiations with federal prosecutors. Contact Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation with our experienced federal criminal defense attorneys.