Do You Need a Lawyer?
Yes, if you are being accused of a drug offense that could lead to federal charges, you need experienced legal counsel. Depending on the allegations, you might not think the stakes are high. For example, many defendants make the mistake of thinking marijuana charges will blow over or easily be defeated in court. But while many states and municipalities are lenient on some drug charges, federal prosecutors are not. With the legalization of Marijuana for medical and recreational purposes in many States people sometime overlook that Marijuana is still an illegal substance under federal law.
You need an experienced trial lawyer to scrutinize the evidence, look for weaknesses in the government’s case, and develop a strong defense strategy. Our experienced attorneys will fiercely pursue the best possible outcome in your case, whether that is a dismissal, acquittal, or minimal consequences upon conviction. You also have the opportunity to get ahead of the charges. Your lawyer can pursue good faith negotiations with prosecutors, and in some circumstances, keep the charges at a state level.
For federal charges, you will go through the federal court system. You will need an attorney who is experienced in represent clients in federal court and is well-versed in its rules and procedures. Federal drug charges lead to harsher punishments, making it even more important to work with an experienced defense attorney as early as possible.
Why You Should Hire Randall & Stump, PLLC
You do not want just any lawyer when you are facing drug charges, particularly if federal authorities become involved. You need a team who has handled similar cases before and won favorable outcomes for their clients. The federal lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC have more than 35 years of combined experience and handle a wide range of drug charges, including those based on federal drug trafficking laws. Anthony DelNero is a former prosecutor and brings unique insights to drug crime defenses. Samuel J. Randall, IV is one of only sixty Board Certified Specialist in both State and Federal Criminal Law in the State of North Carolina. That is out of 28,000 active members of the North Carolina State Bar, so he is uniquely positioned to handle your case. We understand the complexities of federal drug crime cases and how frightened you may be by the prospect of a lengthy prison term. We are here to protect your rights throughout the federal court process and provide a vigorous legal defense.
Let Us Defend You Against Federal Drug Crimes
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, we handle all types of federal drugs offenses, including:
- Conspiracy to Commit a Federal Drug Offense
- Drug Possession
- Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver
- Drug Manufacturing
- Drug Trafficking
- Took place on federal property;
- Crossed state lines or involved importing drugs into the country;
- Was investigated by a federal law enforcement agency, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA);
- Involved other offenses such as firearm possession to further the drug activity or money laundering related to the drug proceeds;
- Was related to organized crime or a continuing criminal enterprise;
- Involved the sale of large drug quantities;
- Involved transporting drugs through mail couriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.; or
- Was discovered through a federal informant.
- Your state court case gets adopted by the federal authorities.
- For less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, except if you had 50 or more marijuana plants regardless of weight, you may be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
- For 100 kilograms or more of a substance containing marijuana or 100 or more marijuana plants, you can be sentenced to between five and 50 years of prison.
- For 1,000 kilograms or more of a mixture containing marijuana or 1,000 or more marijuana plants, then you may be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life.
- 500 grams or more of powder cocaine requires a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.
- 5 kilograms or more of powder cocaine requires a mandatory minimum of 10 years.
- 28 grams of cocaine base, also known as crack cocaine, results in a minimum five-year prison sentence
- 280 grams of cocaine base leads to a minimum of 10 years in prison.
- 5 grams of pure meth or 50 grams of a meth mixture trigger a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.
- 50 grams of pure meth or 500 grams or more of a meth mix leads to a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment.
- Manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance; or
- Create, distribute, or dispense, or possess with the intent to distribute or dispense, a counterfeit substance.
Differences Between Federal and State Drug Offenses
Manufacturing, trafficking, and possessing controlled substances like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and opiates are illegal under state and federal law. You can be charged with a drug offense under both. Handling drug offenses at the state level differ significantly than handling them at the federal level.
Federal drug charges can begin when federal authorities investigate and uncover the alleged offense. But in some cases, your drug charges may start in state court. As an investigation unfolds, the federal government may take over the prosecution, potentially leading to more severe punishment for the same crime.
When You Can Be Charged with a Federal Drug Offense
You may be charged with a federal drug crime if your alleged criminal activity:
The quantity of the drug also influences whether you face state or federal charges. Typically, Local and state officials often handle small amounts of drugs. However, if you are allegedly involved with large quantities of drugs, such as importing cocaine or growing acres of marijuana, then your case is more likely to be handled by federal authorities.
The Federal Court Process
By working with a federal drug lawyer from the very beginning, you can be prepared for how the federal court system works.
Your case can begin get to federal court in a number of ways. The first way is by what is called a target letter. A target letter is simple a letter from the government identifying federal criminal charges that the government believes you have committed. A target letter gives you the opportunity to try and work your case out prior to being formally charged in federal court. A second way your case can get to federal court is through a criminal complaint, a criminal complaint is similar to a State arrest warrant. If you are charged by way of a criminal complaint, you are entitled to a probable cause hearing before a magistrate judge. The final way charges can be brought is by indictment. The federal prosecutor must convene a grand jury. During this secretive process, the prosecutor presents evidence to a jury of 16 to 23 members whose job it is to decide if there’s probable cause you committed the crime. The grand jury decides whether to formally charge you with the crime.
There will be an initial hearing after an arrest. At this stage a federal magistrate judge will inform you of the charges against you. The next step involves an arraignment and likely a detention hearing. If you were arrested on a criminal complaint, you would also have your probable cause hearing at this stage. During the arraignment, you plead guilty or not guilty. A detention hearing is similar to a bond hearing in state court, the judge decides whether you should be released before trial or held in jail. Unlike state court where a judge sets a bail amount, a federal magistrate judge will determine if there are conditions or a combination of conditions that they can impose to reasonably assure both your appearance in court and the safety of the community. Certain federal drug crimes trigger what is called a presumption of detention. What that means is you must overcome an additional hurdle to try and get released while your case is pending.
After you have been charged and arraigned, the next phase of litigation is discovery. There is a lot of work for prosecutors and defense attorneys to do before trial. The parties continue to investigate the alleged crime and exchange information. Both sides prepare their witnesses. Whether or not you will take a stand depends on the circumstances. Your lawyer will advise of you the advantages and disadvantages of testifying and being cross-examined at trial. During this time, your federal defense attorney will develop a strategy for how to pursue a dismissal, acquittal, or mitigated consequences.
When discovery is complete, you might enter into plea bargain negotiations. Resolving your case with a plea bargain may be the best way to resolve your case. Your lawyer will discuss whether or not this is a good idea, though it is always your choice to accept or refuse an offer from the prosecution. If your case cannot be resolved, your case will go to trial.
Federal Marijuana Offenses
Under federal law, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance and entirely illegal. If you are found to be involved with marijuana, whether possessing a small amount or accused of trafficking thousands of kilograms into the U.S., you may be charged with a federal crime.
Federal Cocaine Charges
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, we are experienced in handling all types of federal cocaine charges, such as possession, trafficking, and more. Cocaine possession, trafficking, importation, and sales are taken very seriously by federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors. If you are caught with any amount of cocaine, which is a Schedule II controlled substance, expect to be charged with a crime under 21 U.S. Code §841.
Penalties for cocaine related charges include:
Depending on the facts of the crime and your criminal history, you may face decades or life in prison.
Federal Methamphetamine Charges
Methamphetamine, in many forms, like Crystal Meth, has become a popular drug across the country. At Randall & Stump, PLLC, we are here to defend you if you are charged with manufacturing, trafficking, selling, possessing, or possessing with intent to distribute or sell meth. If you are caught purchasing or otherwise obtaining large quantities of the substances used to make meth, you could be charged with manufacturing or attempted manufacture of meth.
Penalties for Methamphetamine related charges include:
Keep in mind, five and 10 years are the minimum penalties. There are situations in which you may face decades or life in prison.
Federal Drug Trafficking
Under 21 U.S. Code §841, it is illegal for you to knowingly and intentionally:
This is most commonly known as drug trafficking, and the potential penalty you face depends upon the type of illegal drug in your possession or under your control and the amount. If you possess a certain amount of a drug, as defined by federal law, then you may trigger mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug trafficking charges. If you possessed less than the triggering amounts, then you may face less severe sentences for drug possession.
Call Randall & Stump, PLLC for Help Today
If you have been accused of a federal drug crime, you need legal representation as soon as possible. A criminal defense lawyer with Randall & Stump, PLLC, will protect your rights during an investigation and grand jury proceedings. If a grand jury hands down a federal indictment, we are here to build you a strong defense and fight for the best possible result.