Why Does It Matter If Drug Charges Become Federal?
Both state and federal laws prohibit controlled substances’ sale, possession, and manufacturing. However, the primary factor that sets state and federal drug laws apart is the sentencing.
Being charged with a federal drug crime is certainly a serious situation to be in. Understanding the full scope of federal drug charges is an important part of building a productive legal defense. This enables the defendant and their legal representation to make educated decisions about the case and achieve the most favorable outcome available.
An Overview Of Federal Drug Schedules And Consequences
If you are facing federal drug charges, it is important to know that federal prosecutors will go to great lengths to ensure that the possession, sale, and manufacturing of controlled substances receive the harshest sentencing allowable in the United States justice system.
The federal government has controlled substances divided into five categories, with the most extreme penalties being associated with lower Schedules. These include:
Schedule I: As the most serious schedule, these substances have no present accepted medical use. They are considered “substances with a high potential for dependence and abuse”. This includes substances such as heroin, peyote, LSD, ecstasy, marijuana, and methaqualone.
Schedule II: These substances have a “high potential for dependence and abuse”. While they have some accepted medical use, they are still considered dangerous. These substances include fentanyl, cocaine, Ritalin, oxycodone, hydromorphone, methadone, Adderall, and methamphetamine.
Schedule III: These substances have a moderate or low potential for dependence and abuse. These substances include testosterone, ketamine, anabolic steroids, and particular medications containing codeine.
Schedule IV: With a low risk of abuse and dependence, Schedule IV substances also have an established medical use. These substances include Tramadol, Valium, Xanax, Ambien, and Tramadol.
Schedule V: These substances have a low potential for abuse and usually are comprised of substances that are preparations containing narcotics. These substances include Lyrica, cough syrups with codeine, and Lomotil.
Federal judges are required to impose a mandatory minimum sentencing for any individual who has been convicted of a federal drug crime. Given the severity of federal sentencing, the defendant’s future has the potential to be drastically altered due to the lengthy prison times and hefty fines associated with it.
Some examples of mandatory minimum sentencing include:
- 90 days of prison time for simple possession of a controlled substance if the defendant has two or more prior convictions.
- 5 years of prison for trafficking 100 grams of a Schedule I substance.
- 10 years of prison for trafficking at least one kilo of a substance classified as Schedule I.
- 10 years of prison for any repeat offenders.
- 20 years of prison in cases where death or serious injury occurred.
- 20 years of prison if there were any prior felony drug convictions on the defendant’s criminal record.
- Life in prison if there was a prior felony drug conviction on the defendant’s criminal record that involved death or serious injury.
In most cases with simple possession, federal sentencing will result in one year in prison and $1,000 in fines. However, with each subsequent conviction (or if the possession has other crimes associated with it), the consequences are significantly worse.
The minimum sentencing for trafficking is dependent on the amount of substances involved. Trafficking can result in anywhere from 5 years to a lifetime in prison along with fines and court fees. The judge will also take the defendant’s past criminal history into account, and if death or serious injury occurred as a result of the crime.
One year in prison is the minimum sentencing for drug manufacturing crimes. However, prison time can be as long as 10 years or more and fines can reach upwards of $50,000.
Defending Yourself Against Federal Drug Charges
Whether you need an aggressive drug violations defense lawyer or a simple drug possession lawyer, defending your rights is crucial. Attorneys can defend your case with strategies that display the violation of your constitutional rights or prove that the drugs weren’t yours, resulting in the potential for lighter sentencing or even the dismissal of your case.
Speak With A Federal Drug Attorney About Your Situation
Obtaining a lawyer for defending federal drug crime cases will directly affect how your case is prosecuted. Make sure you have the legal protection you deserve by retaining a qualified Las Vegas lawyer today.