Most people charged with Florida drug crimes understand the seriousness of the offense. However, when those charges escalate to the federal level, it can bring a lot of confusion about what a federal charge means and how convictions work.
Federal drug charges can be highly complex. Working with a federal drug charges lawyer at Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys P.A. is essential in helping you and your loved ones better advocate for your rights when facing this harrowing situation.
Common Federal Drug Crimes
Federal drug crimes constitute a broad category that includes a few different types of offenses. Each carries a specific set of criteria for the federal charges and penalties issued.
Simple possession usually involves a smaller amount of a controlled substance and no other crime being committed at the time the drugs are found. Law enforcement can either prove drug possession by finding the drug on your person or by claiming that you should have known it was present in an area that is typically within your control.
While simple possession carries serious penalties, they typically carry the lightest sentences of all possible federal drug crimes.
Drug trafficking charges differ from possession charges based on the amount of a substance that is found to be in your possession, as well as the type of drug law enforcement finds on you.
A drug conspiracy charge complicates the situation because it involves two or more people agreeing to commit a drug crime. It’s important to note that you may not have even been successful in committing the crime or played a major part in it. All that is needed for a conspiracy charge to be legitimate is evidence of an unlawful agreement that all involved parties knew about.
A manufacturing charge occurs when one or more people make or try to make a controlled substance on any schedule, such as LSD, methamphetamine, or cocaine.
This charge can escalate from the state to the federal level based on how much of the drug is being manufactured and whether the manufacturing act is connected to a larger drug operation.
To secure a drug manufacturing conviction, federal law enforcement must be able to prove the following:
- You manufactured and distributed a controlled substance
- You possessed the substance with intent to manufacture or distribute it
- You created and distributed a counterfeit of the substance
- You did these things knowingly or intentionally
If you knowingly committed any of these acts in partnership with another person, you could have an added drug conspiracy charge.
Federal Drug Crime Penalties
While a drug possession charge may be referred to as “simple,” the penalties are anything but. You can spend up to a year in prison on your first offense and do multiple years for subsequent offenses. Also, fines for federal drug possession charges are typically $1,000 or more.
Penalties for other federal drug crimes, such as conspiracy, manufacturing, and trafficking, are based on a number of factors. These include other crimes committed, prior convictions, the quantity of the drug in possession, and which of the federal drug schedules it belongs to.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration divides controlled substances into five categories, also known as schedules. The Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act is what determines drug scheduling.
These schedules are based on the drug’s potential for abuse and safety issues vs. their use as medicines, with Schedule I drugs like heroin, LSD, and fentanyl having a high potential for abuse and low medicinal value.
Federal Drug Trafficking Penalties
Drug trafficking charges are the most serious of all federal drug charges. Consequently, federal trafficking penalties are some of the harshest.
Many federal trafficking penalties depend on what is known as “mandatory minimums,” which is the minimum number of years that someone will spend in prison based on the type of drug and quantity found.
A second conviction will carry an even harsher penalty of spending 20 to 40 years in prison. On a third offense, you could be facing life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.
Federal prosecutors can also seek enhancements if you were carrying a firearm while committing the crime, trafficking drugs near a school, or using a minor to carry out deals.
Federal Drug Investigations
The Federal Drug Enforcement Association (DEA) may use confidential informants to catch other criminals using controlled drug buys or by wearing a wire during a discussion of illegal activity. These agents can then use search warrants to bust the operation and take down the perpetrators.
Some cases will eventually go to trial, while others may be offered a plea deal so that convictions go forth without one.
Defending Against Federal Drug Charges
Federal nor local law enforcement agents are bound by constitutional law when it comes to the search and seizure of any person, their property, and any controlled substance they find.
If the search was conducted illegally, the evidence may not be able to be used against you to get a conviction in court.
Additionally, there may be disputes about who owns the drugs, how much of a drug was present, whether someone knew about the drugs, or whether a defendant had intentions to sell the drugs instead of keeping them for personal use. All can constitute valid arguments if they can be proven in a court of law.
How Metcalf Falls Can Help
Undoubtedly, federal drug charges are serious. Sometimes, you can spend decades in prison on the first offense.
This is why you need to seek help from a highly experienced attorney who understands the nuances of federal law and can craft a viable defense to uncover misconduct, dispute findings, get evidence thrown out, or even negotiate your charges or sentencing.
The award-winning team of Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys, P.A. has extensive experience in the courtroom and has advocated for clients in thousands of criminal cases. While federal agents are working in their best interests, you’ll benefit from having someone on your side advocating for yours.
Contact a Federal Drug Crime Defense Lawyer Today
Federal drug charges are often more serious and carry harsher penalties than state charges. DEA agents are known to aggressively pursue federal drug cases. If you want to defend yourself effectively, working with an attorney is your best bet.
When you choose Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys P.A., you benefit from 24/7 availability, qualified guidance, and personal attention from a top-rated Tampa criminal defense attorney. Contact us today or call 813-258-4800 to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you determine your next step.