Federal Drug Crime Lawyer in San Diego, CA
There are a number of categories of controlled substances established by federal laws and which they are outlines of penalties for various crimes associated with them. Each category carries penalties for possession, distribution, and manufacturing. Federal laws regulating these drugs including narcotics are the same used for charges of unlawful drug trafficking. This is part of the United State Criminal Code, which means that this case will fall into the criminal justice system.
There are a few benefits of having a case in the criminal justice system over the civil justice system. First, a federal drug crime lawyer can help your case move quickly so you can achieve resolution sooner. Another benefit is that within the criminal justice system the prosecution must prove their case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. This is often difficult for prosecutors to accomplish as a federal drug crime attorney will work diligently to poke holes in their case or prove you are an upstanding citizen, unlikely to commit the crime.
These drug crimes aren’t anything new either. Unfortunately, a claim for lack of knowledge doesn’t serve well in these cases. The production, manufacturing, distribution or possession of schedule I-V drugs are federal crimes if certain criteria are met. Typically, a particular weight of each drug will qualify the drug crime as a federal crime.
What Makes a Drug Crime a Federal Offense?
You don’t have to be hunted down and arrested by the DEA to face the potential of a federal penitentiary for a drug charge. Most often local police are making the drug arrests, and those same defendants are charged with a drug crime on the state and federal level. Any drug crime is considered both a state crime as well as a federal crime.
A federal drug crime attorney though is your best bet over a standard drug crimes attorney who might place a greater focus on state regulation instead of the federal regulations at play. However, there are a few particular ways that will guarantee you are being charged with a federal drug crime.
First, if you are arrested by a federal officer. Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, smoking marijuana while the Drug Enforcement Administration does a bust at your location could leave you with a federal drug crime. That means smoking a little bit of marijuana at an inopportune moment can leave you with five to twenty years in prison, depending on how much marijuana was in your possession, for a first-time offense.
Another way for your drug crime to make it to the federal level is for someone you know to form on you. This isn’t normally the case for simple possession but doesn’t rule anything out. These are questionable deals between state and federal prosecutors. So, you could be arrested for a relatively minor charge but be passed up to the federal court from the state prosecutor that was handling this case. The additional downside to these instances is that there is no chance of appeal if your case is moved from state to federal this way.
This isn’t the case in every state but in many, you are subject to simply being passed up the line and into a federal court. Either way, you need the assistance of a federal drug crime lawyer. The proper lawyer can help you understand and navigate the possibilities of you facing the federal mandatory minimum sentences. Even for a small amount of drug possession, these minimum sentences are harsh, and they don’t usually see successful parole leaving much of the prison population to serve the entirety of their sentences.
Many of these charges are associated specifically with narcotics because they are the most common among federal drug crimes. If you are facing these charges, were arrested or held in custody for possession, sale or distribution of narcotics you need a federal drug defense lawyer. Finding a lawyer specifically for these cases isn’t difficult, but it is important to utilize a lawyer with a special knowledge of this field. A standard criminal lawyer you may have used before won’t be your best bet here.
What are the Drug Schedule Differences?
Narcotics are split into categories based on the following:
- Potential abuse of the drug based on its type
- The potential danger of the substances
- Whether or not there are safe and acceptable medical uses for the substance
- Likelihood to develop a dependence on the drug.
You may notice that drugs such as marijuana don’t hit on all of these marks entirely, however drugs like cocaine and heroin are without a doubt affected by all of these aspects.
Schedule 1 narcotics are any substance that is without medical use and is likely to be abused. Schedule 2 narcotics are any substance which has severe restrictions, a high risk of abuse can cause mental or physical dependence and some accepted medical use. Schedule 3 narcotics are substances with the potential for abuse, but they are lesser than schedule 1 or 2 narcotics. These substances may have medicinal use and have low risks of physical dependency development but a high risk of psychological dependency development. Schedule 4 narcotics are less likely to be abused and not likely to result in a dependency. Schedule 5 narcotics are drugs known to have a medical use and low or no potential for abuse.
When Do I Need a Federal Drug Crime Lawyer?
Consequences of a Federal Drug Crime
Every year the United States Sentencing Commission publishes information relating to the mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses. The Federal Bureau of Prisons reported in 2017 that a number of changes regarding the common sentencing for federal drug crimes.
A federal drug crime attorney can assist you in understanding how recent sentencing trends can impact you. They can prepare you for what you are likely to see in the worst-case scenario of a conviction. Although federal drug defense lawyers work diligently to support their clients best interest of a not-guilty determination by a jury, that isn’t always the case. The next best thing a federal drug crime lawyer can do is to best prepare you for the possible conviction and what consequences can come from some of these very serious crimes.
The most common sentencing for drug trafficking ranges from ten years to life in prison. These are also mandatory sentences which apply to attempts and conspiracies as well. Meaning that if you are found conspiring to commit drug trafficking you are subject to the same extent of the law that comes with drug trafficking. During sentencing, it is also considered how many convictions you have had in the past. Second offenses are always more severe and are often life sentences.
Importing and exporting drugs can begin with a five-year sentence if nothing else goes wrong. If there is the death because of the drug importation or exportation, serious injury or bodily injury these additional crimes aggravate the drug crime. For the first offense of a federal drug crime involving the importing or exporting of drugs that have an associated charge of bodily harm, serious injury, or death; the sentencing begins at twenty years mandatory.
In addition to the harsh mandatory minimum sentencing, there are strict three strikes laws in many states. These laws set out that after three felonies, a party will serve life in prison. It is unclear if this is a valuable system as it has only been in effect since 1994.
From 2017 the United States Sentencing Commission identifies that the drug mandatory minimum penalties continue to produce long sentences within the federal system for drug charges. Additionally, that this is having a direct effect on the size of the prison population.
However, many of the offenses that warrant a mandatory minimum sentence were seen less often in 2017 when compared to 2010. This is a good indicator that either these charges are becoming less popular or federal drug defense lawyers are becoming more knowledgeable in reducing charges from these high consequence accusations. In addition to there being fewer offenses or charges pressed, the sentencing commission identified that there were fewer offenders as well.
In other words, if you are facing charge this serious, seeking out the assistance of a federal drug crime lawyer is a top priority. It appears that there is a lot of opportunities to have sentences reduced significantly and potential to avoid the especially severe mandatory minimum sentences.
How Do I Hire a Federal Drug Crime Attorney?
A federal drug crime lawyer can assist you in understanding how to best approach your criminal charges and defend your case. They can help you decide whether to negotiate with federal prosecutors or to pursue a plea bargain in the effort of having the charges reduced to a lesser offense. This is a popular decision made to avoid the minimum sentencing. However, if you decide to fight the charges head on you will definitely need the guidance of a federal drug crime attorney.
This matter if first discussed during your arraignment where the judge will ask if you have an attorney. If you do not, and it is a matter of cost, the court will have a public defender represent you. This is not as simple as saying that you can’t afford an attorney either. Many people find that they don’t meet their state’s requirements for affordability and still have to hire a federal drug crime attorney themselves.
There are a variety of resources available to find a federal drug defense lawyer. The most common resource used now is the internet, however, many people also rely on their family or friends for recommendations. No doubt you will be able to find a federal drug crime lawyer in your area. When you do, begin preparations immediately.
Evaluating your options in an attorney you should have a list of requirements or expectations. Most people look for a federal drug crime lawyer who has experience in representing clients with federal drug charges. Additionally, you may want someone who could see a strategy for an achieving a favorable determination. Finally, look for comfort in an attorney who can provide sound judgment and decent advice. If budget is a factor, discuss costs and legal fees with them. Many federal drug crime lawyers are unable to provide you with a price up front. Know what you can, and what you can’t, afford.
As part of your preparation also, you’ll need to gather a number of documents to bring with you. These documents can help a federal drug defense lawyer understand how they would approach your case and what specifics are involved for you. This is what you’ll need:
- Court paperwork with a detailed explanation of the charges against your
- Date of your next court appearance
- Police report
- Any documents the police gave you
- Bail paperwork
Many lawyers have a questionnaire for you to complete, if possible, submit this to their office before your first meeting. This way the lawyer can verify if anyone within their firm has a history of anyone involved with your case. If there is any evidence of a past relationship taking your case could pose a conflict of interest for the entire firm.
Finally, write down any questions you have so you remember them during your first meeting. Forgetting a question for your lawyer is a costly mistake that is best avoided.
The First Meeting
Many defendants make the mistake of not being entirely truthful or forthcoming during the first meeting they have with their lawyer. Know ahead of time that any Federal drug crime attorney you speak with is required to uphold strict confidentiality laws which prevent them from disclosing information from your first meeting. These laws must be upheld whether you actually hire them or not. This is why it is imperative to take advantage of these meetings to find a lawyer that has your best interest in mind. You do not have to hire the first attorney you meet with.
During the first meeting allow the federal drug crime attorney to direct the course of the meeting. Initially, they will have a lot of questions similar to what the police had asked you. When they are finished, ask your own questions, including:
- How many cases they’ve worked with federal drug crimes?
- Do you know the prosecutor?
- Are you familiar with my judge?
- How is your reputation with courthouse staff?
- Don’t forget to also use this time discuss legal fees and any other expenses you should expect.
This is the tough part for many defendants. Do interview everyone you’ve set up meetings with. Or, if you have found an attorney you absolutely must have, contact everyone else on your list to let them know you will no longer need time to meet with them. This is not just a courtesy, but it can save you from surprise bills showing up for meetings you never attended.
Compare the federal drug crime lawyers you interviewed based on their experience, legal fees and your comfort level with them. Review your interactions with them by questioning how you felt about their initial advice and whether you would trust their judgment. The attorney to client relationship is extremely important when you’re facing charges as serious as federal drug crimes.
Common Federal Drug Defense Layer Strategies
Many federal drug defense lawyers will employee a set of strategies, so you spend the least amount of time in jail as possible. Of course, the preference is a favorable determination with no jail time, however with drug crimes that are not always a viable option. Work with your federal drug defense attorney to decide if negotiations are something you are willing to consider. An experienced federal drug crime lawyer may also encourage you to evaluate the possibility of pleading guilty to lesser offenses.
If you choose to fight the charges head on there are a few common tactics that federal drug defense lawyer’s use:
- Illegal search
- Lack of possession
- Lawful purpose
These can work together or independent to show that during the course of the police investigation your rights were compromised, and the basis of these charges are unjust. Although these sound like technicalities they lead to many cases being dismissed.
Contact a Federal Drug Crime Lawyer
Federal drug crimes are serious offenses which can carry serious consequences. Often these charges can follow you throughout your life, and surely a conviction would follow you indefinitely. Don’t allow one mistake to ruin the rest of your life. Contact a Federal drug crime lawyer as soon as you suspect you’re under investigation for a drug crime. If you are charged with a federal drug crime, communicate with your family what is needed when they assist you in interviewing a federal drug crime lawyer. That way when you are able to further discuss the charges and conduct your own interview it is with a federal drug defense lawyer that will understand the specifics of your case and is ready to assist you.