Continuing Criminal Enterprise Charges
Most drug crimes are prosecuted in state court. There are, however, a few exceptions where federal courts are willing to step in and prosecute drug offenses. For instance, a person can be charged in federal court for a drug-related offense if he or she is being accused of involvement in a continuing criminal enterprise. The penalties in these types of cases are severe, even resulting in a lifetime sentence, so if you have been accused of running a long-term drug trafficking conspiracy, it is critical to speak with an experienced federal crime attorney about formulating your defense.
The Continuing Criminal Enterprise Statute
In 1970, as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Contract Act, Congress passed the continuing criminal enterprise law, a statute directed at those who act as organizers, supervisors, or managers, in concert with five or more people, in a drug-producing or distributing enterprise. This law is notorious for having some of the most severe penalties of any federal criminal law, as convicted offenders must be sentenced to at least 20 years in prison. In fact, in some cases, courts have discretion to sentence someone to life in prison and to pay up to $2 million in fines.
Before a person can be convicted of this offense, prosecutors must demonstrate that the crime qualifies as a continuing enterprise, which means that it involved at least three related felony violations. Prosecutors must also prove that:
- The defendant was an organizer, supervisor, or manager of the continuing operation; and
- The defendant obtained substantial resources or income from the enterprise.
When these elements are fulfilled, a defendant faces significant penalties, which could include a life sentence if he or she is deemed to be the principal administrator, leader, or organizer of the enterprise, or is one of several of these types of individuals; and
- The drug offense involved no less than 300 times the unlawful amount of a controlled substance; or
- The enterprise received $10 million in gross receipts during a one year period for the importation, distribution, or manufacture of a controlled substance.
However, when the drug in question is methamphetamine, a defendant can be sentenced to life in prison if the amount of the substance totaled 200 times the lawful amount. Furthermore, those who are convicted of playing an active role in a continuing criminal enterprise involving methamphetamine face an additional $5 million in fines.
Contact Our Legal Team Today for Advice
Being convicted of this type of serious federal offense has far-reaching consequences for defendants, including jail time, fines, and the creation of a permanent criminal record. Because so much is at stake, it is especially critical for those who are being investigated for involvement in this kind of large scale drug crime, to seek the advice of a dedicated federal crime lawyer who may be able to get their charges reduced or even dismissed. To learn more about what federal charges entail and how you can counter them, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. in Miami at 305-670-9919 today.