Federal Drug Crimes

The federal criminal code has highly detailed and complex controlled substance laws. In the last few years these laws have been frequently called into question as more states continue to legalize marijuana for medical use and even personal use.  But for know the Attorney General's office has remained steadfast about their intention to enforce federal drug laws.  Although these laws are more detailed that the state laws, many of the definitions on what defines a crime as well as the maximum punishments are similar in both these jurisdictions. The US government tends to focus on larger scale cases, but still prosecutes simple possession of controlled substances.  These cases are not nearly as common as they are in city and state courts. United States attorneys handle a small amount of simple drug possession cases that are typically the result of an arrest on federal property.

The maximum penalty for a first offense of simple possession of a controlled substance is one year in jail, and a minimum fine of $1,000. A second offense for simple possession of a drug or controlled substance under United States law carries a minimum jail sentence of 15 days and a maximum sentence of 2 years in jail, while a third offense conviction will result in a minimum 90 day jail sentence and a 3 year maximum jail sentence.

United States law enforcement agencies such as the DEA spend most of their efforts generating arrests for large multi state drug operations but in some cases the federal law enforcement will target and arrest suspects involved in smaller drug operations that are contained within one single state. The federal drug laws provide extremely harsh punishments for all types of drug trafficking, including distribution, sale, manufacture, and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance or illegal drug. The maximum punishments depend on what kind of drug is at issue as well as the amount of the drug. For example, distributing 500 or more grams of cocaine or 100 or more grams of heroin is a felony with a minimum 5 year prison sentence and a maximum 40 year prison sentence. Distribution or sale of cocaine over 5 kilograms or heroin over 1 kilogram has a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 20 years, and a maximum sentence of life in prison. The federal criminal code spells marijuana as marihuana, and the maximum punishment for distribution of over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana is life in prison with a 20 year minimum mandatory prison sentence. Distributing over 50 kilograms of marijuana or 50 marijuana plants has a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. There are also enhanced penalties for selling drugs to a minor, or if someone is killed or injured in during the course of a drug trafficking crime under federal law. The federal drug laws also regulate prescription medications, and devote a large amount of resources to combat the fraudulent manufacture and distribution of prescription drugs.

If you or someone you know has been arrested, indicted, or is under investigation by a federal agency for distributing a controlled substance, contact Benjamin Herbst for a free consultation.  Mr. Herbst is licensed to practice before the US District Court and has defended hundreds of drug cases.  He is available at any time to discuss your case and the possible defenses that may be available to you.

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