If you or a loved one are facing charges for a federal drug crime, then you need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney in your corner.
The federal criminal justice system is more complicated to navigate than the state court system, and federal penalties for drug crimes are generally much higher than the penalties in state court. That is why you need an attorney with experience in federal court. The attorneys at The Law Firm of Jeremy Gordon have that kind of federal court experience. Indeed, our firm has the background, the resources, and the passion to zealously fight for your freedom.
We understand the challenges you face when the federal government charges you with a federal drug crime. That is why we have devoted our practice to pushing back against overreaching federal prosecutors and taking federal investigators to task when they violate your constitutional rights.
Let us fight for you. If you or a loved one has been charged with a federal drug crime we welcome you to contact us. Schedule a free phone consultation today.
Federal Drug Crime Basics
When you are facing drug charges, the first order of business is for you to understand the charges against you. Accordingly, let us look at the most common federal drug charges that are typically initiated by federal authorities.
- Drug Possession. Drug possession is the possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. While possession cases are typically handled in state court, it is possible that a drug possession case will be handled in federal court.
- Drug Trafficking. Trafficking includes the manufacturing, distribution, or possession with the intent to distribute, of illegal narcotics.
- Drug Manufacturing. Manufacturing encompasses running an operation that has the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using illegal narcotics.
- Drug Conspiracy. Any attempt to promote or facilitate the manufacture, distribution, or importation of illegal narcotics could result in a drug conspiracy charge.
- Continuing a Criminal Enterprise. If you acted in concert with five or more people to traffic in illegal narcotics, then that could result in a “criminal enterprise” charge.
- Protected Categories. Anytime you are accused of distributing illegal narcotics to someone under 21 or in a school zone, or of employing people under 18 in your drug operations, the possible penalties will be significantly increased.
In addition, if you are charged with a federal drug crime, you may also be charged with related financial crimes, such as tax evasion, money laundering, and crimes under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Defending yourself against any of the charges discussed here requires the assistance of a qualified federal criminal defense attorney. The Law Firm of Jeremy Gordon has an understanding of all of the federal drug charges that could be leveled against you and can effectively defend you in federal court.
Defenses to Federal Drug Crimes
Federal investigators and prosecutors try to make you feel that you have no choice other than to plead guilty to the charges they initiated against you. Do not listen to them. You have a number of important defenses that you can use to effectively fight back against the charges. These defenses may minimize your criminal exposure, or get the case dismissed altogether.
Before you say anything to the police or make any agreement with a prosecutor, you should consult with a qualified federal criminal defense attorney so you know what defenses are available to you.
Federal drug crime defenses fall into four basic categories:
- Lack of proof of a necessary element to the charge.
- Constitutional challenges to the legality of the investigation.
- Other legal defenses (like entrapment).
- Credibility and reasonable doubt.
- Necessary Elements
Every federal drug crime has a number of elements that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, to prove simple drug possession, the government must prove that you knowingly possessed a controlled substance.
Breaking that crime down into its elements, the government must prove that (i) you, (ii) knowingly, (iii) possessed, (iv) a controlled substance. If the government fails to prove any one of those elements, then the charge against you must be dismissed. So, if the federal prosecutor cannot prove that the item in your possession was a controlled substance (a failure to prove the fourth element), then the government’s case fails.
In sum, the first type of defense is to directly attack the government’s proofs, to demonstrate that it cannot prove each and every element of the crime charged against you.
- Constitutional Challenges
In any criminal case, you will likely have the ability to raise constitutional challenges against the way that the police conducted the drug investigation. Remember, that under the U.S. Constitution, you have a right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment, you have the right not to incriminate yourself under the Fifth Amendment, and you have the right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment.
Accordingly, if the police engaged in an illegal search to get evidence against you, then they violated your Fourth Amendment rights. If the police questioned you at the police station without advising you of your Miranda rights, or ignored your request for a lawyer, then they violated your Fifth and/or Sixth Amendment rights.
Those violations could very well lead to the exclusion of the evidence against you at trial. Without that evidence, the case against you must be dismissed.
- Other Legal Defenses
In addition to the above, there are certain legal defenses to a drug case that you likely have heard of.
- Entrapment is a defense in which the police put the idea in your head to commit a drug crime, when you were not intending to do so beforehand.
- Mistaken Identity is a defense in which an eyewitness who claims you committed the crime simply got it wrong.
- Alibi is a defense to raise when you provide information showing that you could not have committed the crime because you were somewhere else at the time the police say you committed the crime.
- Credibility and Reasonable Doubt
The final type of defense occurs during trial, and it is focused on the prosecution’s case. Some common ways to attack the prosecution’s case is to demonstrate that the police witness is not telling the truth and is therefore not credible. Finally, the prosecution always carries the burden of proof. Thus, your attorney would be wise to demonstrate to the jury that there is a doubt about the prosecution’s case, and that doubt is reasonable.
Sentencing in Federal Drug Crime Cases
Federal drug crimes carry with them certain minimum and maximum sentences. The severity of the sentence for a federal drug crime depends upon the type and quantity of drugs involved. In addition, many factors under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are taken into account when a judge determines the appropriate sentence. Those factors include:
- Your criminal history.
- Whether the drug crime involved injury to someone else.
- Whether the drug crime involved the use of a gun.
During the sentencing phase of a federal drug case, there is typically a great deal of discussion about upward or downward departures from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines as well as the applicability of mandatory minimum sentences.
In sum, federal drug crime sentencing is a complex endeavor and, thus, you need the help of a seasoned federal criminal defense attorney to advocate for you during the sentencing phase.