Facing an Indictment? How a Federal Drug Defense Attorney Can Help
The US government takes drug charges very seriously. A charge at the federal level can be particularly harsh. Significant fines and serious time behind bars await those who face conviction.
Federal drug charges carry mandatory minimum sentences. So facing a federal indictment can feel crushing to your future. Depending on the type and quantity of drug possessed, you could see a minimum of five to ten years behind bars.
These are not low stakes. That's why it's essential you have an experienced legal professional by your side when you fight your case. A federal drug defense attorney can help lessen your sentence and make sure you're prepared for your federal case.
Read on, and we'll walk you through how an attorney can help.
Understanding Federal Drug Charges
The most common way for one to face federal drug charges is as a result of arrest a federal officer. Federal officers may work alongside local officials in the case of a sting. But a federal presence will likely mean you face charges at that level of the law.
The Controlled Substances Act lays out the country's drug policies. That Act regulates the manufacture and distribution of drugs in America. The CSA breaks down controlled substances into five separate categories called 'schedules.' These schedules separate drug types based on their potential for abuse.
Schedule 1 drugs are drugs that have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule 5 drugs, on the other end of the spectrum, include over the counter medication like cough suppressants.
Possession cases will usually remain at the state level and not passed up to the federal level. Federal charges are usually brought against those with severe illegal conduct or prior criminal history.
Drug trafficking and manufacturing will likely result in federal charges as this kind of behavior requires a wider web of criminal conduct.
Another way to face charges at the federal level is an informant cooperated against you in exchange for leniency. If this informant was already tried at the federal level, your case will go through the same court system.
Federal Drug Sentencing
The sentences for drug-related crimes in a federal court can be quite severe. The Federal Sentencing Commission has a set of guidelines that gives judges guidance on how long to spend in prison.
These guidelines vary depending on the severity of the crime committed, the person's prior history, and a number of other more specific factors. A person's role in violence or in the leading or organizing of others can impact their sentence, for example.
Federal law does provide some sense of wiggle room when it comes to these guidelines. Judges are allowed to lower the federal guideline's sentencing range based on an individual's cooperation with the government.
Judges are even allowed to sentence someone lower than the mandatory minimum limit based on their level of cooperation. Examples of such cooperation include providing information that the government doesn't know about illegal activities, agreeing to testify against others, or participating in a sting operation.
All of these examples of cooperation involve aiding the government to bring charges against another individual. The key to lowering your sentence via cooperation is to do so quickly. You want to be deemed helpful before the government is able to find the information you hold elsewhere.
How An Attorney Can Help
Defending federal drug charges can be quite tricky. It requires a multi-tiered strategy that can be difficult to pull off if you don't have the knowledge and experience required.
A professional federal drug defense attorney knows the right moves to take when it comes to your case. An attorney can help to challenge unlawful search or seizures that might have led to federal charges.
They can fight against entrapment, paid informants, or flawed testimony.
There are many different angles to attack a federal drug charge from. While it may seem hopeless, there are many strategies an experienced attorney can use depending on the circumstances at hand.
The primary goal of an attorney will be to get their client the best possible outcome for their case. This goal will also vary depending on the specifics of the case. That could mean shortened sentence, an acquittal, or possibly a dismissal of the charges altogether.
Prior to the case, an attorney will also work hard to ensure that their client receives a pretrial release. No one wants to spend the night in jail, and ensuring that their clients can leave on bail is just one thing an attorney can fight for.
An attorney will never force you to take the plea offer that the government might offer. They are legally obligated to inform you of it if it is offered. But an attorney will never push you into pleading guilty if you don't want to.
Your attorney should be your closest companion and confidant during this difficult legal process. Outside of all the literal help they can offer, it can mean even more to have someone to turn to and rely on during the process.
Hiring A Federal Drug Defense Attorney
It can be incredibly difficult to face federal drug charges. Hiring a federal drug defense attorney is your best bet at fighting the charges and coming out the other side in the best possible shape. If you're facing an indictment, finding an attorney should be your highest priority.
Need to talk about your case? Feel free to contact us anytime for a free consultation.