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While state penalties for drug charges such as distribution, trafficking and manufacturing are severe, federal penalties surpass even those of the stricter states. The Drug Enforcement Agency aggressively pursues those it believes to be high-level drug players, and can quickly bring your business and your life to a halt if they target you. Therefore, it is wise to contact an experienced federal drug crimes lawyer at J. Clark Baird PLLC at the first sign you have been singled out by the DEA or U.S. Attorney’s Office.
WHAT TYPES OF DRUG CRIMES COME UNDER FEDERAL JURISDICTION?
There is a great deal of overlap between federal and state jurisdiction when it comes to drug crimes. However, federal authorities generally leave smaller drug charges to the states, even when they could choose to exercise jurisdiction. The DEA and federal prosecutors concentrate their efforts on cases involving the importation, manufacture, or transportation of substantial amounts of controlled substances, especially those coming from outside the United States. Federal authorities may also bring conspiracy charges against those who have aided drug traffickers. Federal agents and prosecutors are aggressive in this area and have significant resources at their disposal. Their investigations are methodical and can last months or years. Therefore, if you wait until you have been formally charged to seek legal representation, you may have already compromised your drug defense.
DEFENDING POSSESSION, DISTRIBUTION/TRAFFICKING, MANUFACTURING AND CONSPIRACY CHARGES
Possession with the intent to distribute drugs is a relatively self explanatory charge. Like its State drug crime counterpart of trafficking drugs, possession with the intent to distribute drugs in Federal court carries a very serious penalty based on the amount of drugs involved. Because America has a very well known war on drugs, this charge is very common and very zealously prosecuted. More often than not, because there is almost always more than one active participant in the effort, the United States Attorney’s Office will tack on a conspiracy charge thereby casting a large net to bring in several actors in the criminal effort. Depending on the drug charges involved, the minimum weight providing for a minimum mandatory prison term could be very small. If you find yourself on the wrong side of a Federal target letter or indictment for possession with the intent to distribute drugs, you must contact an experienced Federal criminal attorney immediately. Our firm is experienced in handling this charge and we are familiar with the tactics used by the United States Attorney’s Office to aid their prosecution effort. We can help to preserve your case, thereby giving you the best chance to defeat these allegations or, if the evidence is overwhelming, we can put you in the best possible position to mitigate any impending sentencing damage. You need an experienced attorney now more than ever. You need us.
While drug charges are serious, federal drug charges are in a class by themselves. If you are under investigation by the DEA or have been charged with drug trafficking, manufacturing or conspiring to commit the same, the experienced federal drug crime lawyers at J. Clark Baird PLLC can use our years of experience to construct a comprehensive defense strategy to protect your rights, freedom and reputation. Call our main Louisville, Kentucky office 24/7 at (502) 583-3388 or contact us via email at email@example.com to schedule a consultation.
CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT CHARGES
The United States Controlled Substances Act (CSA) regulates the manufacture, possession, use, distribution, and importation of certain substances. The law was enacted in 1970 under President Nixon as a tool for the federal government to strengthen its fight against drug abuse on a criminal level. The federal law also sets out criminal penalties for individuals convicted of violating CSA regulations. Individuals charged under federal drug laws may face severe consequences, including lengthy prison sentences, forfeiture, and costly fines. A skilled and knowledgeable attorney who has experience with federal drug trafficking offenses is best-suited to providing the strongest possible defense against federal criminal charges.
WHAT IS A DISTRIBUTION CHARGE?
This crime is found at Federal Statute 21 USC 841. This Federal Statute states that it is unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally possess with the intent to distribute drugs. A minimum sentence or sentencing possibility will depend upon the weight of the drugs alleged to have been possessed. If an individual has the minimum amount of the drug as called for in the sentencing portion of this statute, that person will face a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 5 years up to 40 years and a fine of up to $5,000,000. In our experience, this charge generally involves a minimum amount of drugs allowing for a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years and a $10,000,000 fine. Regardless of the amount of drugs involved, it’s a Federal charge and should be taken very seriously.
FEDERAL CONSPIRACY CHARGES
Federal drug conspiracies can occur when two or more people agree to commit a crime involving drugs. Because such crimes are in federal, rather than state court, the punishment and charges can be more severe. To prove a drug conspiracy, the government must prove three circumstances:
- An actual agreement was made to break a certain drug law.
- The defendant was aware of the agreement and had intent to participate.
- One act in furtherance of the intended conspiracy.
In some cases, circumstantial evidence may be enough. To commit a federal drug conspiracy, you must knowingly or intentionally manufacture, create, or distribute controlled substances. It is also illegal to possess these substances with the intent to manufacture or distribute. Federal drug conspiracy cases can become complicated, as charges may greatly vary. Depending on the quantity of drugs found and who else is involved, you could be facing fines and years in prison. At J. Clark Baird PLLC, our attorney is experienced and has skills necessary to take on your case. Clark has over 7 years of experience specifically in federal criminal defense and has the ability to take on your federal drug case. Our office will investigate the charges to find who was involved and fight for an outcome you are personally satisfied with.
If you have been charged with federal drug conspiracy, it is very important that your defense attorney has experience in handling such an important case. Not only is your name on the line, but also your family and personal reputation. At J. Clark Baird PLLC, we can help protect you by providing a strong defense for your federal drug case. Contact our office today at (502) 583-3388 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help.
FEDERAL SCHEDULE OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES
Federal drug charges differ from state drug charges in a variety of ways. First, the penalties for drug crimes under the Controlled Substances Act are dependent upon federal drug schedules that classify all controlled substances into five different categories. Schedule V drugs are the least dangerous and the least addictive. The group generally includes lightly-monitored prescription drugs. Drugs in Schedule IV are slightly more dangerous and are thus penalized slightly more severely. Examples of Schedule IV drugs include Valium, Xanax, Provigil and Ambien. Substances such as anabolic steroids and ephedrine comprise Schedule III. Schedules II and I contain the most serious drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, PCP, crack and methamphetamines. They are determined to have a high incidence of abuse and addiction and a low potential for medical use. The federal government takes drug crimes involving Schedule I or II drugs very seriously, and even possession of a small quantity could land you in prison.
The Controlled Substances Act divides illegal substances into the five different Schedules based on several factors. The penalties for criminal offenses related to a certain substance are often based on the respective Schedule of that substance. Penalties for offenses involving Schedule V substances tend to be more lenient, while offenses involving Schedule I substances carry the harshest penalties.
The factors that are taken into account when categorizing substances into Schedules include accepted medical use, safety of use under supervision of medical professionals, and the potential for addiction or abuse. The federal Schedules of controlled substances are as follows:
Potential for Abuse Accepted Medical Use Safety of Supervised Medical Use Examples of Substances
High risk of abuse None None heroin, ecstasy, LSD, marijuana
High risk of abuse Some accepted May cause severe physical cocaine, methadone, morphine
medical uses and psychological dependence
Less risk than Substances have current May cause low to moderate physical hydrocodone, ketamine, steroids
Schedule I & II accepted medical uses dependence/high
Lower risk than Schedule III Substances have current May cause limited physical xanax, valium, ativan
accepted medical uses or psychological dependence
Lower risk than Schedule IV Substances have current May cause limited physical or codeine preparations
substances for abuse accepted medical uses psychological dependence
PENALTIES FOR FEDERAL DRUG OFFENSES
The federal authorities focus largely on drug trafficking offenses, rather than on offenses such as possession or smaller-scale sale. The penalties for trafficking depend on the type of substance involved and the amount of the substance a defendant is suspected of trafficking. For example, with respect to violations of 18 U.S.C. Section 841, defendants may face five to 40 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $2 million if convicted of trafficking any of the following substances/amounts:
- 100-999 grams of heroin
- 500-4999 grams of cocaine
- 5-49 grams of cocaine base
- 5-49 grams of methamphetamine
- 1-9 grams LSD
The severity of the penalties for drug charges depends on several factors:
- The type of drug
- The quantity involved
- The number of prior offenses
- Whether there was death or serious injury
- Whether firearms were involved
The above penalties are for a first offense. Those convicted of a second offense may face 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $4 million. In some circumstances, a defendant may be able to avoid these mandatory minimums by qualifying for the safety valve enumerated in 18 U.S.C. Section 3553(f). To qualify, a defendant must generally be a non-violent, first time offender who is not an organizer or leader of others involved in the offense and who truthfully provided to the government all information and evidence the defendant has concerning the offense.
Larger quantities and repeat offenses carry even more severe penalties, up to and including life in prison. In cases involving death or serious bodily injury, the minimum sentence, even for a first offense, may be 20 years in federal prison. Federal authorities may permanently seize any property used in or derived from criminal conduct. Upon conviction, asset forfeiture is in addition to all other penalties and fines.
MARIJUANA AS A FEDERAL CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE
As the above table demonstrates, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, and marijuana-related offenses carry harsh consequences at the federal level. This has raised significant controversy throughout the United States. Numerous states, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana since researchers have found the substance does, in fact, have accepted and effective medical use in the treatment of certain medical conditions. Aside from medical use, many states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Finally, certain states have completely legalized the personal manufacture and possession, as well as private use, of relatively small amounts of marijuana.
These progressive state actions regarding cannabis conflict with federal drug laws, which continue to classify marijuana in Schedule I alongside drugs such as heroin and LSD. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is in charge of approving reclassification of substances, and has received numerous petitions claiming marijuana does not qualify as a Schedule I substance due to its accepted medical use and other factors. The DEA has yet to reclassify the substance, however, which means that an individual who may be legally obtaining marijuana under state law could still be charged with an offense by federal law enforcement authorities.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Our office provides criminal defense representation nationwide: we have represented drug case clients in ten (10) federal districts across the country, on various federal charges, including manufacturing, possession with the intent to distribute drugs, conspiracy, and other federal criminal charges and consequently we are well versed in how to combat these charges or, in the alternative, how to mitigate any damage brought about by the allegations. We know exactly how to help our clients to get the best possible result. We believe in attacking our cases at the earliest possible point so as to preserve evidence that could exonerate our clients or, at a minimum will allow us to have our client as the first in line should cooperation be an acceptable way to reduce a sentence. We know what is necessary to effectively represent our clients in a Federal Courthouse. A Federal criminal allegation is as serious as it gets. You need a serious federal criminal lawyer. Our office is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us at (502) 583-3388 or email us at email@example.com
An important weapon in the arsenal of any defense attorney is the ability to identify a breach of the defendant’s constitutional rights and suppress evidence damaging to the accused. Many cases begin with an arrest that follows a traffic stop or a search of property. If the evidence in your case was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, it may be possible to prevent that evidence from being used against you at trial and may even result in a dismissal of the case. The police may have been reckless or sloppy with their procedures. They may have made mistakes in securing a warrant or in conducting the search. Likewise, if you made a statement to police or gave an interview, your Fifth or Sixth Amendment rights to counsel may have been violated. A careful, diligent and thorough criminal defense attorney can find those defects and make them work to your advantage. Contact J. Clark Baird PLLC if need just such an attorney to defend you.
Some drug cases are built on evidence collected by secret recordings. There is nothing more damaging to the defense at trial than hearing the defendant’s own words played for the jury. However, to be admissible in Court, the recordings must be made within the bounds of the law. The legal authority that controls the use of wiretaps in a criminal case derives from Title III of the 1968 Omnibus Safe Streets and Crime Control Act. This Act places severe limitations on the use of wiretaps as an investigative tool and the admissibility of evidence gleaned from those wiretaps. Wiretapping can only be done when allowed by a court order, which requires probable cause; it can be used only as a last resort, when other “traditional investigative techniques” have failed; the amount of irrelevant personal data captured has to be minimized; law enforcement has to notify the target after the wiretap has been completed; and, the recordings and filings themselves must be properly sealed.
One of the pitfalls in federal drug charges is the possible seizure of your property by law enforcement during the investigation of your case. As the laws allow them to seize property that may have been obtained through money from the illegal sale, distribution or trafficking in drugs, you may lose your assets unless a strong defense is brought to bear. In order to safeguard your rights, consulting with J. Clark Baird PLLC is crucial for your future and your freedom. A capable federal drug crime lawyer is critical in any such case to fight drug charges.
Our firm will fight for your rights by investigating all of the evidence presented against you and challenge any instance of illegal search and seizure or any other aspect of your case that violated your rights. Our legal team has a successful track record in helping our clients with drug charges and will be dedicated to minimizing the charges against you.
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PRE-INDICTMENT INVESTIGATIONS AND INTERVIEWS
Often suspects of a federal drug investigation will be contacted prior to indictment or arrest. It is a common investigational technique utilized by the DEA, FDA, FBI, Homeland Security and other federal law enforcement agencies to contact suspects prior to bringing charges in an effort to get the suspect to provide information or roll on other individuals in order to avoid charges themselves or to lessen their potential sentences. The last thing a federal agent wants you to do is exercise your 6th Amendment rights and talk to a lawyer or have a lawyer present with you when you talk to the federal agents. Agents cannot normally make deals on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s office. Also remember: agents are allowed to lie to you under the law in order to get you to confess!!!! One tool of an federal drug defense lawyer is to obtain what is known as a Castigar letter or proffer letter. This important document protects a suspect because in effect the U.S. and the agents and prosecutors are agreeing that anything you say in meeting with them will not be used against you in court. The only exception to this rule is if you make lie or make false statements to the agents, which can lead to an obstruction of justice charge!! Lawyers who do not normally do federal criminal defense work do not understand how to negotiate for these important protections.
Do not speak with federal agents without an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer who understands the federal criminal justice system. J. Clark Baird has represented multiple individuals in meetings with federal agents and federal prosecutors all across the country. Attorney Baird has been able to negotiate on behalf of clients so that they avoid charges and indictments!!
DO NOT TALK TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS OR ALLOW THEM TO SEARCH! EXERCISE YOUR SIXTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO COUNSEL AND DEMAND TO SPEAK TO YOUR LAWYER!! Contact Louisville, Kentucky federal criminal defense attorney J. Clark Baird immediately for assistance: (502) 583-3388 or firstname.lastname@example.org or After Hours 24/7 at (502) 797-4625!
LINKS AND RESOURCES ON FEDERAL DRUG CHARGES
- Drug Offenses: Maximum Fines and Terms of Imprisonment for Violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act and Related Laws
- Federal Criminal Mandatory Minimum Sentences
- U.S. Controlled Substances Act (Title 21)