The federal government of the United States has many laws against the use and sale of illegal drugs. Some of the drugs that are illegal in the US include methampetamines, cocaine, LSD, heroin and marijuana.
Federal drug charges often are brought in a case where drug trafficking or distribution is suspected. In most cases, these types of alleged crimes involve large amounts of drugs that are sold to many people, often across state lines. The federal government takes this very seriously, so in most cases, federal charges are brought. Keep in mind that the state in which the alleged crimes occurred also may bring drug charges of its own.
The most common federal drug charges are brought in the following cases:
Drug trafficking: This involves the manufacture, distribution and/or possession of large amounts of drugs, with intent to distribute. If you are caught with large quantities of illegal drugs, it is very likely that a federal trafficking charge could be brought against you.
Drug manufacturing: In this case, you are suspected of running an organization that manufactures and distributes illegal drugs
Drug conspiracy: This is working with others to further the sale, manufacture and trafficking of drugs. This is often a catch all federal charge that the feds will bring against you if they lack hard evidence that you were directly involved in the alleged trafficking
Below are the common aspects of a federal drug charge:
Federal Drug Charge Indictment
This is what you are officially charged with in federal court. The indictment may have several charges against you. The federal prosecutor will send the charges to a grand jury. If they find that there is probable cause, you will be indicted. Usually when the prosecutor sends charges to a federal grand jury, an indictment results. One of the reasons is that the federal government has tremendous financial resources that it can bring to bear against you to get an indictment.
After you are indicted, you will be scheduled for a hearing before a federal judge. The charges will be read against you and you must enter a plea. Your lawyer may plead not guilty at the arraignment so there is more time to investigate the case and to research the laws particular to the case. Your lawyer also may be able to discover evidence that can be used to your benefit.
Trial or Plead Guilty?
Whether you plead guilty or go to trial is a very important decision. You have a right to a trial by jury under the US Constitution, but note if you lose, you will probably receive the maximum sentence. Your lawyer will advise you on your best options. If you decide to go for a plea agreement, you may plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for a lighter sentence.
If you do go to trial and you lose, the chances are high that you will receive a harsh sentence. So, it is very important for you to decide if you want to go to trial or not.
Federal Drug Crime Penalties
Anyone who is convicted of federal drug charges will receive a tough sentence, which will largely depend upon the nature of your crime. If you were involved in a drug crime that caused a death or serious injury, you will receive a longer sentence. Also, note that your previous criminal history has an effect on the length of the prison sentence.
If your crime involved more than one kilogram of cocaine, 10+ grams of LSD, 50 grams of meth or 1,000 kilos of marijuana, you can get up to life in prison, and will get at least 10 years.
If your crime involves the death or serious injury of another person, you will get at least 20 years and could get life.
Also know that federal drug crimes often carry mandatory minimum sentences that will give your judge limited discretion to craft your sentence. These laws are intended to make sure that serious drug dealers get harsh sentences. But in recent years, these laws have caught up relatively minor drug offenders in very long prison sentences.
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