What Is a Federal Drug Trafficking Charge?
The federal government forbids anyone from making, selling, giving away, or having certain drugs. If someone is involved or found in possession of controlled substances, then the individual may be sent to prison for a long time depending on how much of the drug and what type of drug was involved. Federal drug trafficking law can be found at 21 USC § 841, and criminal charges can result from allegations including:
- Importing controlled substances from another country
- Possessing controlled substances illegally
- Transporting controlled substances illegally
- Selling or distributing controlled substances illegally
Since drug trafficking cases often involve multiple people, it is common to see drug trafficking conspiracy charges under 21 USC § 846. A drug trafficking conspiracy charge alleges that there was an agreement between at least two people to traffic controlled substances illegally and that someone took at least one substantial step towards completing the goal of the agreement. For a prosecutor to get a conviction for this charge, it is not required to prove that a criminal act actually took place. All that is needed is an agreement between two people and someone taking an action towards the agreement. If you are facing federal criminal charges for drug trafficking, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.
What Are the Potential Penalties for a Federal Drug Trafficking Conviction?
For several types of first-time federal drug trafficking convictions, you will face mandatory minimum sentences. If you alleged to have trafficked certain amounts of controlled substances illegally, then you cannot be sentenced to less than five years in prison or more than 40 years for a first offense. If death or serious injury occurs, the sentence cannot be less than 20 years or more than life. The maximum fine is $5 million if you are an individual and $25 million if you are not an individual. This type of sentence can be imposed for various levels of cocaine, cocaine base, fentanyl, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, and PCP. If you are convicted of a second offense of federal drug trafficking under 21 USC § 841, then you can face a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in federal prison and fines that can be as high as $8 million for an individual and up to $50 million for an organization.
When higher amounts of controlled substances are illegally trafficked, then the mandatory minimum sentences also increase. First offense convictions for higher amounts of controlled substances can result in a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison. This minimum can increase to twenty years if a death or serious injury results from the illegal activity.
What Are the Potential Defenses for a Federal Drug Trafficking Accusation?
There are several defenses that can be used if you are accused of federal drug trafficking or conspiracy to commit federal drug trafficking. Potential defenses are based on the answers to the following questions:
- Did the police violate your Constitutional rights in any way?
- Did the police have a warrant or probable cause to search you?
- Were your drug trafficking activities forced on you?
- Were you entrapped by law enforcement into committing a crime?
- Was there any agreement between two people to commit a crime?
In answering these questions, your potential defenses become clearer. Your defense might be a legal one that can be dealt with using a motion to suppress or a factual one that can be used in front of a jury during a trial. Make sure you understand all potential defenses to federal drug trafficking.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
Federal criminal cases are heard in federal District Courts. In Pennsylvania, you will find three federal District Courts. These courts are known as the central, middle, and eastern district courts. Your case will be assigned to whatever court is in the district where the allegations originated.
Appeals can be made to decisions or rulings from the federal district court. All appeals from a Pennsylvania federal district court go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Any additional appeals must go to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court picks the cases it wants to hear and decide on. You do not have a right to be heard in the Supreme Court. An experienced attorney can help you with court procedures and devising a defense.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are being prosecuted federally for a criminal offense, then make sure that you have an experienced federal criminal defense attorney on your side. This attorney can help you understand the law and allegations being made against you. Knowing this information is essential to forming a defense in your case. Your attorney can also advise you whether it's better to fight the case to trial or work out a resolution.
If you want to end your case, then your attorney may be able to work out a plea agreement with the prosecutor. In doing so, your attorney can also advise you on the quality of the plea agreement you are getting. It is important to consider all factors when deciding whether or not to accept a plea agreement. If you have legal questions, then contact us at the Lento Law Firm today!
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm Is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted federally for drug trafficking, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring the Lento Law Firm is the right choice to help defend your federal case.