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Sentencing For Federal Drug Crimes In New York

NYC Federal Drug Crimes Lawyers

Drug Schedules

There are five schedules of drugs subject to control under the federal law. The schedules are designated I, II, III, IV and V, respectively. The law provides different penalties and regulatory provisions, depending in part upon the schedule in which a drug is listed. The tightest controls and most severe penalties are imposed for offenses involving drugs listed in Schedules I or II. The Act contains an initial listing of drugs for each schedule.

Schedule I Includes Heroin, Marijuana, LSD, Mescaline, and Peyote

The statutory criteria for the inclusion of drugs in Schedule I are:

  • a high potential for abuse; and
  • absence of any currently accepted medical use; and
  • lack of safety even under medical supervision.

Of the drugs listed in Schedule I, heroin, marijuana, LSD, mescaline, peyote and psilocybin are the most commonly used in federal drug prosecutions.

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.

 Schedule II Includes Opium, Cocaine, Methadone, and Amphetamine

The statutory criterian4 for the inclusion of drugs in Schedule II are:

  • a high potential for abuse;
  • a currently accepted medical use in the United States; or
  • a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions; and
  • a potential for severe psychological or physical dependence.

The initial listing of Schedule II drugs included opium, cocaine, and methadone, as well as many other substances. Methamphetamine and amphetamine were added to Schedule II by federal regulation.

Schedule III Includes Nalorphine

The statutory criterian6 for including drugs in Schedule III are:

  • a potential for abuse less than that of drugs in Schedule I and Schedule II; and
  • a currently accepted medical use in the United States; and
  • a potential to create moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Anabolic steroids and lysergic acid are among the controlled substances within this Schedule.

 Schedule IV Includes Meprobamate, Barbital, Chloral Hydrate, and Paraldehyde

The statutory criterian7 for including drugs in Schedule IV are:

  • a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs in Schedule III; and
  • a currently accepted use in medical treatment in the United States; and
  • a potential to create limited physical or psychological dependence relative to the drugs in Schedule III.

Among the drugs listed in Schedule IV, the most familiar are: meprobamate, a well-known tranquilizer; barbital, a member of the barbiturate class; chloral hydrate, known as knock out drops when mixed with alcohol; and paraldehyde. For the most part, drugs included in Schedule IV are either hypnotics (drugs which induce sleep) or sedatives (drugs which relieve anxiety).

Schedule V Includes Codeine Combined with Small Amounts of Other Ingredients

The criteria for the inclusion of drugs in Schedule V are:

  • a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs in Schedule IV; and
  • a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and
  • a potential for limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs in Schedule IV.

The drugs listed in Schedule V are compounds containing small quantities of certain narcotic drugs such as codeine combined with non-narcotic medicinal ingredients. To be included in Schedule V, the preparation must include at least one non-narcotic active medicinal ingredient in such proportion as to confer upon the preparation valuable medicinal qualities other than those possessed by the narcotic drug alone.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Federal criminal justice system is completely different from the state criminal justice system. That is especially true when it comes to sentencing issues. Some of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in federal courts are drug crimes.

One of the most important factors controlling sentencing under Drug Abuse and Control Act are Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The criminal provisions of the comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act did not just change existing law. Serious changes occurred by the adoption of newly defined federal drug crimes and totally new sentencing provisions.

Most of the revised sentencing provisions of the comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act provided broad ranges within which sentences could be imposed, including, for many offenses, specified mandatory minimum sentences. Beyond the specified mandatory minimums, federal sentencing is driven and controlled almost entirely by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The Sentencing Guidelines became discretionary, although a significant factor in the federal sentencing process, the United State Supreme Court ruled that they are no longer mandatory in United States v. Booker.

The Booker case made the Guidelines advisory but they still have a huge impact on the sentencing process. Judges are obligated to calculate the proper Guidelines recommended sentence and use that as one of numerous sentencing considerations. Therefore, important factors that can lower the Guidelines calculation in effect provides a lower starting point for the ultimate sentencing determination.

The cooperation with the government is absolutely critical when it comes to determining the sentence. Before Booker, in order for the judge to even consider depart from the Guidelines based on the defendant’s cooperation, the Government needed to file a Motion asking the judge to do so. After Booker, it’s no loner necessary. The Government may file such a Motion or the defense may simply ask the judge to consider cooperation as grounds for a lower sentence. In some cases, cooperation may even permit a judge to sentence the defendant below a mandatory minimum.

The issue of cooperation is one of the most important issues in a federal criminal case. While some defendants may not be willing to cooperate and have no interest in pleading guilty, for others it is the only optimal option. Cooperation is not for everyone. A person who is not guilty should not be pleading guilty and cooperating with the government. Still, cooperation must be seriously discussed with your defense attorney as early as possible in the case. In most federal drug cases, by the time the arrest is made, the federal prosecutors have accumulated high volumes of evidence, including undercover purchases, video surveillance, phone taps, and other types of evidence. Therefore, the question of cooperation should be brought up and seriously discussed.

The truth is that the federal drug cases usually have multiple defendants and those who cooperate first get the greatest sentencing reduction. How exactly this works depends on which district hears the case and the particular judges. However, considering the draconian sentencing practices under the mandatory sentencing and guideline sentencing provisions, it is very important for the defendant to consider cooperation.

Quantity of Controlled Substance

Although the Guidelines for drugs largely emphasize the quantity of the controlled substance, an individual defendant may be liable for a smaller quantity than that proved for the entire conspiracy. This is known as the principle of ”foreseeability”. This means that the court must determine what amount of drugs was reasonably foreseeable by the particular defendant, based upon his involvement in the particular conspiracy.

Pleading Guilty

A defendant may have points deducted from his Guidelines calculation based upon pleading guilty early in the stages of prosecution.

Defendant Has Minimal Criminal History and Crime Was Non-Violent

A judge may sentence below the statutory mandatory minimum, but still pursuant to the Guidelines, where the defendant has a minimal prior criminal history; the offense did not involve weapons, violence, or threats of violence; the defendant was not a leader, organizer, manager or supervisor of others in the offense; and the defendant has disclosed to the government all he/she knew about the crime and related crimes no later than the time of sentencing.

 There are many criminal defense attorneys but not all of them are well equipped to represent clients in federal cases. A lawyer must have a very good knowledge of federal sentencing law in order to be provide the competent and effective representation of clients in a federal drug prosecution.

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