Federal drug charges are the most severe drug charges a person may face. These matters are highly complex and require expert legal counsel. What defendants may not know is that many drug crimes may be charged at both the state and federal level, making it challenging to estimate the ultimate price they will pay for these crimes. Without the help of a knowledgeable federal drug lawyer, a drug arrest can cause your life to take a sharp turn for the worse.
How do you know when a drug crime will be charged as a federal crime? Laws governing controlled substances exist at the state and federal levels. Generally, federal offenses are those that involve the U.S. government in some way. Offenses that take place while crossing state lines or on federal property are federal offenses and will be charged as such. Trafficking significant quantities of a controlled substance may also lead to federal charges. You will need to work with an experienced lawyer who is uniquely qualified to represent you in federal court to fight federal drug charges in Dallas.
Have you been charged with federal criminal case in Dallas? Book a consultation to discuss legal representation with criminal defense attorney Paul Saputo today.
Who Can Arrest Me for a Federal Drug Crime?
Arrest procedures for federal drug crimes may differ than those for state drug crime arrests. Typically, federal agents may arrest you following an investigation, or local authorities may collaborate with them to impose federal charges. You should never disclose information to authorities, regardless of whether they’re local, state, or federal officers, without the counsel of a criminal lawyer.
Examples of Federal Drug Crimes
There are more than 100 drug-related offenses that may be charged at the federal level. Crimes involving various controlled substances may lead to federal charges, depending on the severity of their offense. The drugs below are some of the more common substances at the heart of federal drug charges:
- Crack Cocaine
Drug charges in Texas that may be federal charges include:
- Intent to sell
- Intent to deliver
- Manufacture, Sale, Trafficking, and Distribution
- Proximity charges (having substances near a church or school)
- Narcotics charges
On top of the above charges, defendants accused of federal drug offenses may also face charges for:
- Weapons offenses
- DUI or other traffic offenses
- Sex crimes
- Money laundering
- Tax evasion
Whether you face one or multiple charges, it’s crucial to hire a federal defense lawyer in dalls who will guide you through the justice system. If this is not your first drug offense, you will want to find a lawyer who represents individuals with a criminal record. In some cases, having an extensive criminal history may increase the severity of your drug charges or may lead prosecutors to file federal charges.
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA)
Understanding what to expect from the criminal justice system when you’re facing drug charges starts with learning about the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This act regulates the manufacture and distribution of all known substances, most of which have medical applications. Drugs are divided into five categories, or “schedules,” based on their potency and medical uses. Below are the five schedules with examples for which types of drugs fall into each group. Except for Schedule I drugs, all drugs have some accepted medical use.
U.S. Drug Schedules
Schedule I: These drugs have no currently accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Drugs like heroin, marijuana, LSD, and ecstasy, and peyote may be found here.
Schedule II: Drugs in Schedule II have a high potential for abuse and physical and psychological dependence. These drugs do have accepted medical uses. Schedule II drugs include substances with less than 15 mg of hydrocodone per dose. Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, Adderall, oxycodone, and PCP are examples of Schedule II drugs.
Schedule III: These drugs have a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence and a low potential for abuse. Drugs like Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids are included.
Schedule IV: Schedule IV drugs have a lower abuse potential than those in Schedule III and a low risk of physical and psychological dependence. They include drugs like Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Ambien.
Schedule V: Schedule V drugs have an even lower abuse potential and a smaller risk of physical and psychological dependence than Schedule IV drugs. Examples include cough medicine with less than 200 mg of codeine per 100 mL and antidiarrheal drugs.
Penalties for Federal Drug Charges Can Last Years
If you’re convicted of a federal drug offense, you may face a minimum sentence that includes at least 5 years in a federal prison. You need skilled criminal defense representation to avoid the worst possible penalties.
Mandatory minimum sentences for federal charges are generally more severe than those for state charges in terms of both the length of incarceration and the cost of fines. Generally, serious federal drug charges may lead to a decade or more of incarceration and fines in the millions of dollars, while lower-end charges may cost hundreds of thousands in fines. Drug crimes with mandatory minimum sentences are those that involve LSD, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, PCP, heroin, and methamphetamine.
A minimum sentence for a federal drug offense with any of those substances may include a prison sentence of 5–10 years, depending on the quantity of the substance.
5- and 10-Year Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Federal Drug Crimes
Federal courts may bestow 5-year minimum sentences for first-time federal drug offenders. However, a 5-year minimum may double to a 10-year minimum if you have 1 prior felony conviction. Additionally, either a 5- or 10-year minimum can turn into a 20-year minimum sentence if the crime resulted in a death.
Life Without Parole After a Federal Drug Conviction
A person who has a prior felony conviction and caused a death during the commission of a federal drug offense may be sentenced to life without parole. Also, a 10-year minimum sentence may increase to life without parole if the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions.
How Do Federal Courts Calculate the Sentence for a Drug Conviction?
There are key factors that determine the exact sentence you may receive upon a conviction. The state of Texas relies on the following five primary factors. These may also apply to federal courts, although they may consider additional factors.
- The substance involved. The schedule of the substance will influence the severity of your sentence. Drugs in Schedule I, for example, will generally lead to harsher sentences than drugs in Schedule IV.
- The quantity of drugs. Greater amounts of a drug, regardless of the Schedule, may result in a lengthy prison sentence.
- The way in which the drug was used.The purpose of the drug will determine the charge you face. For example, if you possessed an illegal substance to consume it yourself, your sentence may be lighter than if you had distributed or delivered the substance.
- Where the crime took place. Drugs used or sold near schools and churches may lead to aggravated charges due to laws that impose harsher punishments for drug crimes near “drug free zones.” Examples of these areas are daycare centers, public and private elementary and secondary schools, playgrounds, and colleges and universities.
- Other crimes. If your drug crime is tied to other offenses like crimes of violence, or if your offense incorporated the use of firearms, your sentence will be more severe than if you had avoided violence and weapons.
Talk to a Skilled Federal Drug Lawyer in Dallas for Quality Representation
If you face charges for drug trafficking, distribution, or illegal possession of large quantities of a controlled substance, you need an educated, experienced, and aggressive attorney to fight for your rights. Attorney Paul Saputo of Saputo Law is a highly accomplished, AV Rated “Preeminent” Texas criminal defense lawyer who performs equally well in state and federal court.
Mr. Saputo has defended clients in more than 50 state and federal courts in Texas. When you need quality representation for federal drug charges in Dallas, look no further than the Saputo Law firm.