Illegal drugs are everywhere in America, from marijuana to addictive prescriptions stolen from medicine cabinets, it is hard to grow up in the U.S. without encountering one or more controlled substances. Unfortunately, you may have become addicted to drugs or gotten involved with something bigger than you realized. You could also be accused of participating in crimes you had nothing to do with and do not approve of. Whatever your situation, perceived involvement with drugs could lead to very serious federal criminal charges. At that point, the best thing you can do for yourself is to call a criminal defense lawyer familiar with federal drug charges.
The federal lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC have more than 25 years of combined experience and handle a wide range of drug charges, including those based on federal drug trafficking laws. We understand the complexities of these issues and how frightened you may be by the prospect of such lengthy prison terms. We are here to protect your rights throughout the federal court process and provide a vigorous legal defense.
Differences Between Federal and State Drug Offenses
Controlled substances like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and opiates are illegal under state and federal law. However, you cannot be charged with a drug offense under both. You are either charged with a state drug crime or a federal drug offense. In some cases, your charges may start in state court but as an investigation unfolds, the federal government may take over the prosecution, leading to the potential exposure to much more severe punishment for the same crime.
You are likely to be charged with a federal drug crime if your alleged criminal activity:
- 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 and/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.
- Was discovered through a federal informant.
Also, the quantity of the drug also influences whether you face state or federal charges. Small amounts of drugs are often handled by local and state officials. 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.
If you are facing federal drug charges, do not hesitate to contact our experienced and skilled legal team at Randall & Stump, PLLC. There are significant differences between state and federal drug charges. For federal charges, you will go through the federal court system and will need an attorney who is licensed to represent you in federal court and is well-versed in its rules and procedures. Federal drug charges also lead to harsher punishments, making it even more important to work with an experienced defense attorney.
Federal Drug Laws
Under 21 U.S. Code §841, it is illegal for you to knowingly and intentionally:
- 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.
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.
Let Us Defend You Against Federal Drug Crimes
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, we handle all types of federal drugs offenses including:
- Possession With Intent to Sell and/or Deliver
- Conspiracy to Commit a Federal Drug Offense
Attitudes toward marijuana are evolving, and numerous states now allow the use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. However, 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.
Based on the federal sentencing guidelines for drug offenses, 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. If you are caught with 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.
Federal Cocaine Charges
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, we are experienced in handling all types of federal cocaine charges. 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.
For powder cocaine, 500 grams or more requires a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. More than five kilograms requires a mandatory minimum of 10 years. For cocaine base, also known as crack cocaine, 28 grams results in a minimum five-year prison sentence, and 280 grams leads to a minimum of 10 years in prison. 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, including Crystal Meth, has become a very 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. Also, law enforcement agents and prosecutors take the possession of meth precursors very seriously. 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.
To trigger a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, you must be caught with at least five grams of pure meth or 50 grams of a meth mixture. If you are found in control of at least 50 grams of pure meth or 500 grams or more of a meth mix, you will be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment. 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 Sentence Reductions
If you were harshly sentenced for drug trafficking in the past, then you may wish to speak with an experienced attorney about a possible sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(2). Under this federal law, a court may modify a term of imprisonment if:
- Extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant a reduction;
- You are at least 70 years old, have served at least 30 years in prison, and are not a danger to any other person or the community; or
- The sentencing range for the offense you were convicted of has been lowered by the Sentencing Commission.
To pursue a reduced sentence, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Our team at Randall & Stump, PLLC have handled numerous federal drug cases, including sentence reductions. We will thoroughly review your situation and current term of imprisonment and the latest Sentencing Commission amendments to determine if there is a strong chance to have your punishment reduced.