The Most Common Federal Drug Charges Include:
- Simple Drug Possession: Possession of controlled substances without a prescription. These are often charged at the state level if it is determined that there was no intent to distribute.
- Drug Trafficking: Manufacturing, distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute illegal drugs.
- Drug Manufacturing: Running an operation for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing illegal drugs; usually involves large amounts of drugs and distribution paraphernalia.
- Drug Conspiracy: Attempting and/or the promotion of or facilitation of the manufacture, distribution or importation of narcotics. The Government must prove that you were aware of the conspiracy.
- Protected Location Offenses: Distributing illegal drugs to people under the age of 21 or in a school zone; you can also be charged with this crime if you used people under the age of 18 to sell drugs.
In most cases, you will be charged with a federal drug crime if:
- You are caught
- selling or manufacturing illegal drugs
- by a federal agent or on a federal piece of property
- by a federal informant
- The state and federal prosecutors have agreed to try you at the federal level
Because of the ongoing “war on drugs,” federal law provides stiff penalties for defendants convicted of federal drug charges. There is a minimum mandatory penalty of 5 years to 40 years and 10 years to life for first-time drug offenders whose crimes involve certain threshold levels of drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamines.
Each U.S. Attorney’s office follows specific guidelines about which federal drug charges to bring, and which federal drug charges to not. Many times, this decision is affected by the quantity of drugs involved in the case, whether the defendant has a prior convictions for drugs or violence, how widespread the conspiracy is, and if there are substantial assets to seize in the case.