Federal Drug Crimes
Generally, drug crimes are prosecuted locally, although in some cases, a crime will satisfy the criteria of a federal offense and be prosecuted in federal court. This can have serious consequences for defendants who face much harsher penalties if convicted of a federal offense, so if you have been charged with a federal drug crime, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can protect your interests.
Most offenses involving drugs are charged at the state level. However, a crime can be charged as a federal offense in certain situations, including when:
- A federal officer makes the arrest;
- Law enforcement officials are collaborating with a federal agency;
- The offense is particularly severe;
- The defendant was implicated by an informant who was charged at the federal level; and
- The offense involved activities affecting interstate commerce.
Types of Federal Drug Offenses
Almost all drug offenses that are prosecuted at the state level have a federal counterpart, although the penalties for a violation of federal law are usually much more severe. Some of the most common federal drug offenses include:
- Drug possession;
- Drug manufacturing, which can be charged when there is evidence that a person was involved in creating an illegal drug or who had the components of a drug on his or her person;
- Distribution, which is charged when there is evidence that a person intended to sell or distribute the drugs that were in his or her possession; and
- Attempt or conspiracy to manufacture or distribute drugs, which only requires evidence that the defendant collected materials to manufacture the drugs or had paraphernalia on his or her person.
When sentencing someone who has been convicted of a federal drug offense, courts are often required to abide by minimum sentencing guidelines. These fixed sentences are based on a series of factors, including:
- The type of drug;
- The weight of the drug; and
- The number of prior convictions.
According to these minimum sentencing guidelines, defendants could face thousands of dollars in fines and jail time. For instance, anyone convicted of the federal crime of possessing a controlled substance can be required to spend up to one year in prison and pay a $1,000 fine. However, if a person has a prior conviction for any drug offense, the sentence can be increased to two years and he or she will be fined a minimum of $2,500. Finally, a defendant who has two prior convictions for drug offenses and is convicted a third time faces up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The penalties for more serious crimes, such as drug distribution or manufacturing are even more severe.
Contact a Dedicated Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Being convicted of a federal drug crime can have life changing consequences. Aside from facing jail time and hefty fines, a defendant will also have a permanent record, which can make it much more difficult to secure employment or find housing. Please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys in South Florida today to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you formulate a defense.