Drug conspiracy laws – on a federal level – are very broad, and carry strong penalties. Often, there are minimum sentencing guidelines, which almost always results in federal prison. Many state level cases are often upgraded to a federal crime – if possible. This is because federal laws are very broad, and far more punitive – which means that it gives federal prosecutors a greater ability to prosecute cases than state prosecutors.
Federal Charges for Drug Conspiracy
In the USA, you face a potential federal case if you possess, distribute, or traffic, in controlled substances. This can range from common illegal narcotics, to full on enterprise drug diversion cases – involving healthcare providers. At the federal level, most cases typically involve a huge amount of drugs. The charges on a federal level are very harsh – and including minimum prison sentences. The statute of limitations for drug conspiracy charges is 5 years from the event of when the activity ceases.
Drug conspiracy laws make it so the government can get a conviction against anyone involved in the chain of custody of the drugs. The charges in a federal case typically involve minimum prison sentences, of at least 10 years or more. In a drug conspiracy case, the laws are flexible so that anyone involved in the trade of the drugs can be held liable and charged criminally. That means healthcare providers, who engage in drug diversion – can be held liable, in addition to the dealers, and transporters of the drugs. Anyone caught buying the illegal drugs can also be charged at the federal level. Drug conspiracy provisions are very broad, and the government uses these broad measures in order to get convictions against as many people as possible who participated in the crime.
Drug conspiracy is a component of the US Code 21 U.S.C. § 846. The code states it’s illegal for anyone to commit a conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, or posses, controlled substances . This provision is under the general conspiracy statute 18 U.S.C., which makes even the participation in a conspiracy to violate federal laws – a crime itself.
Anyone who has any connection to people who have intent to commit a federal violation of the laws, whether or not they participated in the act – can be charged. If two or more people agree to posses, sell, manufacture, or distribute, illegal drugs – then each person can be charged. Innocent people sometimes get tangled up in drug conspiracies unknowingly. For example, UBER’s new messenger service has been used as a popular drug muling carrier due to it’s anonymity. Another example is if you loan a vehicle to someone who uses it to then deliver drugs – could be considered a participant.
In order for the government to build a federal drug conspiracy case – they have to establish illegal actions or motives were at play. The government can hold a conspirator liable for any/all acts, that are committed by his/her co-conspirators. Regulations are in place that determine the start, and termination of the conspiracy. Even if just 1 conspirator takes action, it can be used to convict all of the defendants. The main requirement for proof is that 2 or more people agreed to break the law and violate federal drug laws.
Conspiracy laws are very broad, and as a result charges and convictions can be levied against people who don’t know each other. The prosecution is aware of how broad their powers are, and uses them accordingly. They use the conspiracy statute to charge as many people as possible. In some cases, people can be charged twice for the same crime. Most federal drug indictments also result in drug conspiracy counts. For example, even if you discussed committing the crime – you can be charged even if you didn’t participate in it. The government has to have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an agreement was made by a group of people to break federal drug laws. In addition, the government must prove that the people who are being charged knew and voluntarily joined in. Without an agreement, the government’s case is much weaker.
Federal Drug Conspiracy Penalties
Penalties are stiff. Conspiracies can result in fines up to $250,000, along with prison terms up to 5 years. Penalties can be added for other crimes committed, in conjunction with the drug offense. Penalties can also be affected other factors – like age, background, prior criminal record, etc. Some people may be forced to make restitution and subject to forfeiture. If you harmed someone during the crime, it can affect how severe the penalties are.
Federal Drug Conspiracy Defenses
If you’re accused of federal drug conspiracy charges, we recommend you immediately contact our criminal attorneys. The scope of a federal drug conspiracy case is very broad. The court has to prove many elements, beyond the shadow of a doubt. If it can’t prove you participated in a conspiracy, then you cannot be convicted. There are many ways to defend against such charges. Our criminal defense attorneys will investigate the merits of the case, and uncover evidence to reduce or eliminate charges filed against you. Often, many people are dragged into drug conspiracy charges because they came in passing contact with people who were in agreement about committing a drug offense. Some are accused, yet know no one in the group. The element of “agreement” – of a drug offense, is where our criminal defense lawyers will look to get charges dropped.
Frequently, our attorneys will try to prove you had no agreement to engage in such activities as a line of defense to get the federal drug conspiracy charges dropped. Another thing we’ll do, is focus on how the drug conspiracy was discovered. If a search and seizure was done illegally – we’ll strike that from the evidence. If a defendant was stopped illegally, and drugs were found – we’ll strike that – due to the fact the police didn’t have sufficient cause to stop the defendant in the first place. If your rights were violated in the process of the investigation, we can request the judge to suppress any evidence seized.
If you have been charged with a federal drug crime or are currently the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, the first thing you should do is discuss your situation with qualified legal counsel. At Spodek Law Group, we consult with individuals who wish to learn what options might be available to them as they attempt to defend themselves against allegations of possession or trafficking of controlled substances. We’ll help you understand what your rights are under the law and how we would address the allegations leveled against you in federal court. Whether we feel that you need a criminal attorney at your side to help you mount a vigorous defense or wise counsel to assist you in negotiating a plea agreement, you can rest assured that we’ll be working hard every step of the way in order to secure the best terms possible for you.
Why is this a federal offense?
Any drug investigation in the United States has the potential to become a federal case, without regard to whether the investigation started at the state or local levels of law enforcement. Even if a case starts out being a purely local affair, federal prosecutors and investigators often bargain with local and state officials to trade defendants who they believe might be beneficial to their own cases, especially if they feel that a particular defendant might be leveraged as a potential witness or source of information in another case. Thanks to minimum sentencing guidelines, even individuals found in possession of small amounts of drugs can face significant federal prison time. Most estimates indicate that between 20- and 25-percent of all individuals incarcerated for drug crimes are jailed for federal offenses.
An attorney should be present
Before a defendant says anything to a local, state or federal investigator regarding a drug case, it’s a good idea to request the presence of a lawyer. Investigators have immense leeway under the law to use a number of techniques in order to gain information from suspects and witnesses, including the right to lie to them. The presence of an attorney may discourage an investigator from trying to approach a case from this angle.
Even in instances where an individual may wish to cooperate with law enforcement, it’s a wise choice to seek the advice of a lawyer before going forward with the process. An attorney can explain what is expected of a person who enters into an agreement with the government and see that their rights are being protected.
What options are available?
At Spodek Law Group, we help our clients review the details of the cases brought against them in order to provide what we think are the best available options given the circumstances. An attorney may be able to review your case and identify procedural problems that should be brought to the attention of the court. We’ll check that the officers involved in the investigation handled all evidence properly and highlight where they might have done something wrong. If we believe that pursuing an agreement with the prosecution is the right choice for you, we’ll explain how the system works and help you try to obtain the most favorable terms possible, including asking the court for a reduced sentence or diversion toward alternative programs for first-time or non-violent offenders.
The attorneys of the Spodek Law Group help clients present their cases clearly before the court, and our goal is always to see that you receive the fair treatment that you deserve. If there are questions about the investigation, we’ll work hard to see that the judge is made aware of those concerns. We’ll review the search and seizure process that was applied in the case in order to verify that everything was handled properly by law enforcement officials at every stage of the process. If we believe that the prosecution is being overzealous in applying the law against a client, we’ll remind the court of the defendant’s rights before the law.
The Spodek Law Group has been helping people like you defend themselves in court since 1976. Contact us today and request a time to discuss your situation with a lawyer who’ll work hard to present your case and protect your rights.
Sentencing Appeals – Federal Drug Trafficking Lawyers
Federal drug trafficking cases can often be legal matters that are prosecuted intensely by law enforcement officials who are zealous in their job performance. Federal Drug Enforcement Agency officers are as serious as federal prosecutors when they think they have the goods on a large scale drug trafficker. This combination of factors regarding the attitude of prosecutors can easily encourage a federal court judge to impose a sentence that is not necessarily in line with established codified sentencing guidelines, even when a case brought before the court is based on borderline evidence. The final result of a trial with this undercurrent can easily be a harsher sentence than the crime actually merits. Luckily, there is an appeals process that allows a defendant to bring a case back to court for a reassessment of the appropriateness of the punishment and evaluation according to the federal sentencing guidelines. However, this cannot be accomplished with the help and legal expertise of an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer who understands both the appeals process and initial prosecution case development.
Information Restrictions in Appeals Court
Cases that are brought for appeal are viewed differently than when a trial court evaluates evidence and passes judgement. When cases go to trial the determinations of the jury will also be evaluated, and all information delivered by the prosecutor can be reviewed. Decisions and legal interpretations for the bench can be reviewed as well, with the decision of the judge often being a primary contention in the sentencing hearing. Prosecutors can also make errors in assessing certain classes of a drug trafficking case, which can also have a significant impact on a final sentence. All aspects of the trial court procedure can also be re-examined by the appeals judges, but no new evidence can be brought into the case for consideration. An appeal is not another trial. It is a double check on the proper disposition of justice by the original trial court.
Reconsideration of Evidence
The appeals level can also be very important regarding the actually validity of the evidence used to prosecute the defendant. Many trial courts do a very poor job of ensuring that evidence is gathered according to the proper search and seizure protocols while hiding the fact that coercion may be a component of the actual acquiring of evidence. All warrants used to seize evidence of drug trafficking or officer testimony can be reviewed for constitutional acceptance, along with ensuring that all legal rights of the defendant were respected. It is important to understand that appeals-attorneys/”>appealing a case is essentially a submission of briefs from attorneys on both sides that are re-evaluated by the appeals judges, along with the appropriate sentencing. The appeals court will either uphold the ruling or remand it back to the lower court for reconsideration or dismissal according to the findings of the appellate court. Having an aggressive and detailed New York criminal defense lawyer presenting your argument can be a major advantage when discussing the primary aspects and admissible evidence in a case, especially when they are a former federal prosecutor.
The Importance of an Experienced Appeals Attorney
The appeals process may be the most important phase of a legal matter when the federal government actually has a solid case. The Drug Enforcement Agency rarely gets involved in small prosecutions. Those cases are usually left for the states to settle unless drug trafficking is occurring regularly across state lines. Sometimes the best representation can be an experienced former prosecutor who understands how federal prosecutors build cases and how to best address weaknesses in those assertions.
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