Types Of Federal Drug Charges
Drug offenses are addressed by the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. Due to the rising trend of recreational drug use, the existing laws were ineffective in addressing the problem. To bridge the gap, a new law was introduced which categorized and banned specific drugs, while also focusing on drug abuse and treatment. The classification system entails the inclusion of highly hazardous drugs such as heroin, ecstasy, marijuana, and peyote, which lack authorized medical usage.
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is a federal drug policy that governs the production and distribution of controlled substances, including narcotics, stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. The CSA organizes drugs into five Schedules based on their probability for misuse, international designation, and potential medical benefits. Schedule I medications are those that are highly addictive and have no known medical uses. Drugs that fall under Schedule II are considered dangerous and highly addictive. The other Schedules are classified based on their level of danger and addiction potential. The following are examples of the controlled substances in each Schedule.
- Schedule I: heroin, marijuana (despite several studies done on its medical benefits), ecstasy, and LSD;
- Schedule II: methamphetamine, cocaine, morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin;
- Schedule III: anabolic steroids, ketamine, and Vicodin;
- Schedule IV: Ambien, Xanax, Tramadol, and Valium;
- Schedule V: Examples of Schedule V drugs include Lyrica and cough suppressants.
Federal Drug Manufacturing Charges
This refers to drug manufacturing, which is often seen in the case of methamphetamines due to their frequent production in homes. The cultivation of marijuana also falls within this context. Federal drug manufacturing charges are more common than you might think and require a skilled Las Vegas federal drug crimes lawyer to effectively defend against them.
Federal Drug Trafficking and Distribution Charges
The act of selling, transporting, or importing controlled substances from one place to another is considered drug trafficking. This includes crossing the border from Mexico or transporting drugs between Nevada and California.
Federal Drug Possession With Intent Charges
Merely possessing drugs can lead to charges, regardless of whether you plan to sell them or not. The severity of your sentence depends on the classification and quantity of the drugs, as well as any related paraphernalia such as pipes, syringes, or rolling papers.
Drug charges can easily fall under federal jurisdiction. If you transport drugs across state lines, you will be charged in a federal court. Additionally, your case may be heard in federal court if both state authorities and federal prosecutors deem your offense a federal crime, and you will not be able to appeal that decision. It is important to note that even though marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use in Nevada, you should still exercise caution. Bringing marijuana to federal properties such as national parks is prohibited and can result in federal drug charges, despite the lack of state penalties.
State Drug Charges vs Federal Drug Charges
Compared to federal drug crimes, first-time offenders who commit state offenses are usually punished less severely and receive lighter penalties. Federal mandates require mandatory minimum prison sentences, which means a person found guilty of a federal drug crime may be sentenced to a long time in the Bureau of Prisons. Defendants with two or more prior serious drug offenses or violence convictions may be classified as career offenders and face even harsher sanctions.
If a defendant signs a plea agreement, the number of appeals they can make in federal courts is limited. Parole is no longer an option in the federal system, and although federal sentencing laws allow for probation or home confinement, very few people are given this option. As a result, federal charges for drug crimes usually result in longer prison sentences than comparable state charges.
Being charged with federal drug offenses can lead to other charges that may not seem related at first. For instance, distributing drugs may result in money laundering, tax evasion, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) charges that can lead to even more time in jail. It’s important to have a Las Vegas federal drug crime attorney since such charges can be associated with various drug-related offenses.
- Bath Salts
- Cocaine Possession
- Controlled Substances
- Dark Web Drug Conspiracy
- Drug Charge Penalties
- Distribution of Cocaine
- Distribution of Heroin
- Distribution of Marijuana
- Distribution of Methamphetamine
- Distribution of Oxycodone/OxyContin
- Drug Conspiracy
- Drug Crimes Search & Seizure
- Drug Manufacturing and Distribution
- Drug Trafficking and Importation
- Ecstasy Possession
- Fentanyl Distribution
- Heroin Possession
- Marijuana Possession
- Minimum Mandatory Drug Sentence
- Medical Marijuana
- Methamphetamine Distribution
- Meth, Ecstasy, and LSD Possession
- Internet Drug Crimes and Illegal Prescriptions
- Oxycodone/OxyContin Distribution
- Oxycodone, OxyContin, and Prescription Drugs Possession
- PCP Possession
- Prescription Drug Diversion
- Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime or Crime of Violence
- Prescription Pill Distribution
- Distribution of Adderall
- Spice or K2
- Synthetic Drug Trafficking
- Vaping Drug Crimes
Penalties For Federal Drug Crimes
Drug crimes carry severe punishments in the federal court system. The ultimate sentence depends on various factors. Without a strong defense, one could face a minimum of five years in prison if the prosecutor successfully proves the charges.
If you are found guilty of a crime involving smaller amounts of Schedule I and II drugs, the possible prison sentence ranges from 5 to 40 years. However, if your offense resulted in death or serious physical harm, the minimum sentence increases to 20 years. If it’s your second offense, the minimum sentence goes up to 10 years in prison.
Possessing larger amounts of Schedule I and II drugs can lead to imprisonment for 10 years to life for the first offense, particularly in cases where there was harm or death involved. Second offenses carry a penalty of 20 years to life. Committing more than two offenses can result in a life sentence.
Marijuana and its derivatives can lead to federal charges that carry sentences of five to 20 years. Possession of under 50 kilograms can still result in up to five years in jail and a fine of $250,000.
Importance Of Drug Use In Federal Federal Drug Charges Cases
When it comes to federal drug cases, the quantity of the illegal substance could significantly impact the sentencing decision. Therefore, it is crucial for the jury to determine the exact amount of the drug involved. Federal drug charges in Las Vegas fall within the jurisdiction of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the sentencing guidelines take into account the number of illegal drugs recovered in the case, which could lead to a wider range of possible incarceration periods.
In a federal drug case, if the amount of drugs involved increases the maximum penalty, the Ninth Circuit mandates that a jury must determine the amount beyond a reasonable doubt. This determination is considered an additional element and requires unanimous agreement from the jury.
Burden Of Proof And Evidentiary Issues
The prosecution is responsible for proving all federal drug crimes. They have to prove every element of the drug charge, and they must do so beyond a reasonable doubt. There are different ways for the prosecution to meet this burden, and the jury can consider direct evidence – like the testimony of an eyewitness – as well as circumstantial evidence, which is evidence that indirectly proves a fact. Circumstantial evidence is evidence that shows a chain of facts that leads to the conclusion that a particular fact exists.
Conspiracy Charges In Addition To Federal Drug Trafficking In Clark County
The definition of conspiracy, like that of trafficking, can be broad. Therefore, it is common for drug trafficking charges at the federal level to be accompanied by conspiracy charges. According to the law, conspiracy occurs when two or more people plan to commit a crime against the United States or deceive the government or any government agency, and one or more of them take steps to carry out the plan. Title 21 U.S.C. § 846 additionally makes it illegal to conspire to manufacture, distribute or possess illegal drugs with the intention of distributing them.
Conspiracy charges are usually imposed along with other federal charges, leading to harsher punishments. Moreover, a person can be charged with conspiracy even if their involvement was minimal, and even if the supposed conspiracy never actually occurred.