Both state and federal laws prohibit the possession, distribution, manufacture, or sale of various drugs and controlled substances. As a result, many drug offenses in Charleston could be prosecuted under either state or federal law. When federal prosecutors take on a drug case, the consequences can be extremely serious.
Anyone facing federal drug charges should consult an experienced Charleston federal drug lawyer for advice as soon as possible. Federal drug cases are often investigated and prosecuted by seasoned federal agents, so those defending against the charges should have an equally skilled federal criminal attorney fighting for their rights.
The Advantages of Working with a Federal Drug Lawyer
An individual charged with a federal drug offense rarely benefits from speaking to police or law enforcement without the advice of an attorney. Prompt representation from a Charleston federal drug attorney could prevent a defendant from making missteps during the investigative process, like giving up their right to silence or making careless statements that damage their case. A dedicated lawyer could also:
- Provide representation at bail and detention hearings
- Negotiate with federal prosecutors
- Speak with federal law enforcement agents
- File appropriate motions to challenge evidence
- Investigate to build a strong defense
- Pursue all appropriate defensive strategies
- Provide aggressive representation in court
- Seek alternative sentencing arrangements
Even if charges have not yet been filed, those under investigation should consider speaking with a knowledgeable attorney before answering any questions.
Federal Drug Crimes
Federal drug laws are lengthy and complex. The section of the U.S. Code describing prohibited acts starts at 21 United States Code §841 and goes on to describe various offenses and their potential punishments.
What is a Distribution Drug Crime?
Federal law forbids the manufacture, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and counterfeit substances. Penalties for violating this statute depend on the quantity of the particular substance at issue.
For instance, distribution of one kilogram or more of heroin, 1000 kilograms of marijuana, or 50 grams of methamphetamine are subject to a mandatory minimum federal prison sentence of ten years. That minimum sentence is doubled to 20 years if the use of the substance causes death or serious injury. The maximum sentence for distribution is life in prison, and fines as high as $10,000,000 may also be assessed.
When the quantity of drugs involved is lower—100 grams of heroin or 100 marijuana plants, for example—the mandatory minimum sentence drops to five years, though it can increase to 20 years if the substance causes serious bodily injury or death. Sentences are lower where smaller quantities of marijuana are involved, but those convicted may still be required to pay a fine as high as $250,000 and be incarcerated for up to five years.
Penalties are also lower for drugs considered less addictive and with more accepted medical uses, such as some prescription pills. A knowledgeable federal drug lawyer in Charleston could help a defendant identify what particular charges and consequences they may be facing in their case.
What is a Possession Drug Crime?
21 U.S.C. §844 outlaws the possession of controlled substances, unless the substance was obtained through a valid prescription. Many controlled substances have no accepted medical use and are not available through any legal means. Charleston federal drug lawyers generally do not see as many simple possession cases in federal court as in state court.
Penalties for a first-time offender include up to one year of imprisonment and the potential for a fine of at least $1,000. The maximum sentence doubles to two years, and a minimum sentence applies if the individual charged has a prior drug conviction.
Consult a Charleston Federal Drug Attorney Today
Federal drug crimes carry severe penalties, so it is often essential to explore every available avenue of defense. If you are facing federal drug charges or are being questioned in connection with a federal drug crime, a qualified attorney could begin working right away to collect and preserve evidence that could prove vital to your defense. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more about working with a Charleston federal drug lawyer.