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Federal Drug Conspiracy Charges
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A drug conspiracy occurs when two or more people agree to commit a drug-related crime.
This offense is defined broadly and does not require either party to actually commit the underlying drug crime in question. For this reason, many defendants who are charged with this offense are not even aware that they were breaking the law. To ensure that you are not punished for a crime that you didn’t commit, please contact an experienced federal crime attorney in Miami who can help defend your rights.
Elements of a Drug Conspiracy
In order to convict someone of a drug conspiracy, prosecutors are only required to prove that:
- There was an agreement between two or more individuals to violate a federal drug law; and
- Each conspirator knew of the unlawful agreement, but still voluntarily chose to join it.
These are the only elements that prosecutors must prove to obtain a conviction, which means that they do not need to provide evidence that the defendant knew all the details of the conspiracy or even that he or she knew all of the other people involved. In fact, the government does not even need to prove that the defendant made a formal agreement, as a simple understanding between multiple parties could constitute conspiracy. Most federal conspiracy laws require proof that a defendant engaged in an overt act to further the conspiracy, but this is not true for drug conspiracy charges. However, the government will need to establish that the defendant knew the main purpose of the conspiracy.
Furthermore, this law covers a variety of different drug offenses, including conspiring to:
- Manufacture, create, or distribute a controlled substance;
- Possess a controlled substance;
- Possess a controlled substance with the intent to distribute it;
- Attempt to sell a controlled substance; and
- Transport a controlled substance.
Fortunately, there are a number of defenses available to those who have been charged with drug conspiracy.
These defenses include the following, and more:
- There was no agreement between the defendants;
- One or more conspirators did not know about the agreement;
- The search that led to the discovery of evidence was unlawful;
- The agreement was made under duress;
- The arrest was the result of entrapment;
- The defendant withdrew from the conspiracy by taking affirmative action to report the impending crime or by communicating his or her dissociation to the other conspirators;
- The defendant knew about the conspiracy or was present when the agreement was made, but he or she did not join it; and
- The witnesses lack credibility.
Formulating a strong defense based on these arguments is critical because the penalties for a conspiracy to commit a drug crime are punishable as though the actual crime was committed, which means that a defendant could end up spending years in prison.
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Statute of Limitations
Before a defendant can be convicted of conspiring to commit a drug crime, prosecutors must allege and prove that the conspiracy continued into the five-year limitations period, which begins to run when the conspiracy’s purpose has been either achieved or abandoned. A knowledgeable federal crime attorney in Miami can provide you with well-informed counsel and the strong representation you deserve.
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