FEDERAL DRUG CHARGES
The United States federal law prohibits the manufacture, distribution, and possession with the intent to manufacture or distribute a wide variety of controlled substances including cocaine, cocaine base, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy, PCP, LSD, and marijuana. The use of a home or telephone to facilitate a federal drug crime can also result in prosecution. Violations of federal drug laws carry severe penalties and often include mandatory minimum sentences of 5, 10, or 20 years imprisonment, depending on the quantity of narcotics involved and the criminal history of the person charged. Some federal drug crimes can also carry life imprisonment. Under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, punishment depends largely on the type of narcotics, the quantity, and the individual’s criminal history. Harshly, many violations of federal drug laws also create a presumption that a defendant should be held without bail while defending themselves against the charges. Property, cash, and vehicles are frequently seized, and bank accounts frozen.
When federal agents, sometimes working with local city or state police, investigate federal drug crimes, they commonly use informants, surveillance, and wiretaps. These investigations often last many months, and may involve arrests before any Indictments are sought. Frequently, arrests are made, and individuals are released, only to be charged at a later date.
The successful defense of federal drug crimes requires a specialized set of skills particularly suited to federal drug investigations and prosecutions. Lawyers familiar only with state prosecutions often lack the experience and knowledge necessary to properly defend their clients, either during the investigation stage or in district court once charges have been filed. The federal criminal justice system is complex and, to many, frightening. The stakes are always high, and an incorrect strategy results in disaster.