Federal Drug Crimes Attorneys
Anyone who is found cultivating, trafficking or manufacturing drugs in any area which is considered federal land could face federal drug charges. In some instances, distribution or manufacture to children under the age of 21, distribution in a school zone or working with someone under the age of 18 to distribute may also be charged under federal law. In some instances, the prosecutor may determine that it would be more beneficial to pursue charges under federal drug laws.
Federal Cultivation Charges
Cultivation means the combining of drugs or in the case of marijuana, the growing of the drug. In the case of marijuana, if you are found to have between one and 49 plants in your possession at the time of your arrest, you could be facing federal cultivation charges which can result in up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 for a first time conviction. Subsequent convictions could result in fines of up to $500,000 and jail time of up to 10 years.
Federal Manufacturing Crimes
Drug manufacturing charges are extremely serious and should be taken seriously. Even if you are merely assisting someone by offering to assist in measuring ingredients to make LSD or if you assist someone in the process of “cooking” methamphetamine, you could be facing manufacturing charges on the federal level. The federal penalties for manufacturing are nearly identical to those of cultivation; again, the more drugs you have on hand, the higher the fines and the longer the potential jail time.
Federal Drug Trafficking Crimes
Federal drug trafficking laws are very harsh; sentencing for less than four ounces of heroin with an intent to distribute could mean you are facing a minimum of five years in prison with the potential for the sentence to be as long as 40 years. Fines can be as high as $5 million for a first-time offender. Second and subsequent offenses will result in a mandatory 10 years in jail.
Federal Forgery & Fraud
When someone steals a prescription drug pad, creates a prescription drug pad on their home or work computer, they could face federal charges of forging a prescription or prescription drug fraud. These charges are often filed if there is reason to believe you have mailed an illegal prescription to another person; particularly across state lines.
Federal Conspiracy Charges
In the same manner a local prosecutor must demonstrate you have violated Pennsylvania drug laws, the federal prosecutor also has a burden of proof. In order to prove you have violated federal drug laws as part of a conspiracy the prosecutor must be able to demonstrate:
- There was an agreement to violate drug laws
- Each person involved in the conspiracy knew about the agreement
- That someone involved took specific action to advance the conspiracy
Sentencing Penalties for Drug Crimes in Pennsylvania
Penalties for both drug possession and distribution can vary drastically depending on a variety of factors such as the type of drug, the quantity of the drug, if firearms were found with the drugs, the prior criminal history of the accused, etc. Distribution to minors or within a school zone can also lead to more serious charges.
Narcotics Sentencing and Fines Vary Widely
Narcotics violations can result in felony charges and sentencing terms of up to fifteen years in prison. Sentencing can also include prison terms in excess of fifteen years or less severe terms, this depends on the charges related to the type of drug alleged to be involved, the amount involved and the classification of the substance according to state law.
In such scenarios, penalties can range from probation to substantial jail terms and serious fines. Fines of up to a quarter of a million dollars or more (depending on the total estimates of the assets amassed from the criminal charges) may be levied as well.
Drug Crime Conspiracy Charges
What Is A Drug Conspiracy Charge?
The law defines a criminal conspiracy as an explicit agreement between two or more people to engage in and commit criminal activity or crime(s). Typically, anyone who is charged with conspiring to commit a drug related crime will receive a punishment tantamount to the punishment required if the crime had actually been committed.
Drug Conspiracy Is A Serious and Complex Charge
Conspiracy charges are serious and rarely stand alone. Generally, they are part of additional charges that an individual must resolve. In order to prove a drug conspiracy, the government has the burden of proof on three critical points.
The government must prove that there was an agreement to violate drug law.
The government must show that each alleged conspirator was aware of the agreement to violate drug law and joined the conspiracy willingly and with intent.
The government must show at least one act committed in the service of furthering the intended conspiracy.
Unfortunately, in many cases today, the government is successful in admitting circumstantial evidence to prove these elements.
For defendants, the key to a solid defense is often dependant on successfully attacking the government’s witnesses. Much of the government’s circumstantial evidence is typically provided by unreliable and biased witnesses with something to gain in exchange for their testimony.
It is also common for government witnesses to be alleged co-conspirators, alleged customers, or jailhouse informants who have been given deals in the form of reduced charges and/or jail time. Generally, it is necessary to attack these witnesses by determining the answers to the following questions:
- What is the bias of the witness?
- Does the witness have a criminal record?
- Has the witness been offered a deal of any kind?
- What does the witness stand to gain from offering their testimony in this matter?
- Was the witness actually there, at the scene of the alleged crime?
A Potential Key To Defending Drug Charges
Being charged in a felony drug case does not automatically mean you will be convicted. Just because the government alleges that something is a controlled substance, does not make it a fact. The alleged drugs must be tested by a crime lab and there is a variety of elements involved in crime lab testing. Many times, crime labs are crowded with backlogged evidence and technicians are overworked and prone to mistakes.
It’s important that your criminal defense attorney be able to review and consider all aspects of the substance in question, not just the identification but the quantification of the alleged illegal substances as well.
Lab results are meaningless without the data to back it up. Can the government actually prove that the substance they are alleging is a drug, is, in fact, one due to its chemical composition?
It is important for your defense team to establish the following:
- Did the lab follow protocols?
- Did the lab technicians actually test the drug?
- Was there contamination or a potential for contamination?
- Is the weight correct and was the substance weighed properly?
- What machines and procedures were used to determine these results and how accurate/ reliable are these machines and procedures?
Facing Federal Charges? Contact our Attorneys Now.
In nearly all cases, federal drug charge convictions will carry heavier penalties if you already have a criminal record, if someone was seriously injured or died and the severity of the crimes you are being charged with. In addition, the more drugs you are in possession of at the time of your arrest, the higher the sentence may be.
Being arrested and charged under Pennsylvania drug laws is worrisome enough, however, if you are facing federal drug charges, there is even more to worry about. Federal controlled substance laws are very harsh and in some cases, you could be looking at minimum jail time as well as thousands of dollars in fines. You will need an aggressive criminal defense attorney who is familiar with both Pennsylvania’s drug laws and federal drug laws and has the experience necessary to help you fight these charges.