Drug Crime Lawyer
Criminal Defense Attorney for Drug Crime Charges
Ever since the “war on drugs” began in the 1980s, law enforcement authorities at the local, state and federal levels have devoted enormous resources towards investigating and prosecuting drug crimes.
The laws and sentencing guidelines governing drug crimes are among the toughest in the criminal justice system. As a result, the number of non-violent drug offenders serving prison sentences continues to increase.
A Criminal Record
A drug conviction on your record not only threatens your freedom but can lead to heavy fines, probation, court mandated drug treatment, and registration as a narcotics offender. If you or someone you love has been arrested or is under criminal investigation for a drug-related crime, it is critical to enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Having competent legal counsel to guide you through the process.
State and federal law prohibit the possession, sale, manufacture, and distribution of illegal controlled substances. Controlled substances include “street” drugs as well as pharmaceutical drugs without a valid prescription.
- Painkillers such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, OxyContin
- Depressants such as Xanax
- Sleeping pills like Lunesta and Ambien
- Stimulants for ADHD like Adderall
Penalties for Drug Crime Conviction
The penalties for a drug conviction vary by state
- face jail/prison time
- mandatory drug rehab/treatment programs
- forfeiture of your property
- driver’s license suspension
- loss of visitation privileges with minor children
- loss of immigration status
Factors that Influence
The severity of your drug charge and following sentence depends on several factors, including:
- Type of drug in your possession
- Under federal law, the Controlled Substances Act groups drugs into classifications based on whether or not the drug has an accepted medical use and the potential for abuse. Drugs with a high-risk of abuse carry heavier penalties than other drugs.
- Amount of drugs in your possession
- greater quantity leads to a harsher sentence
- Whether the drugs were for your personal use or whether you intended to sell or distribute the drugs
- Simple possession of small amounts of drugs will most likely face a misdemeanor charge. Possession with intent to sell or distribute is charged as a felony and results in harsher sentence
- Possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon during the commission of the drug-related crime will enhance your charge and sentence
- Prior drug convictions
- Committing a drug offense near a school, a child care center, public housing or assisted living facility, a public park or community center, a college or university, or a place of worship.
State or Federal Drug Crime?
There is lots of overlap when it comes to charging a drug crime as either a state or federal offense. Federal drug charges are far more serious than drug charges brought in state court and are often the result of lengthy investigations by government agencies like the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Standard drug offenses tried in federal court include:
- Drug possession over a certain amount
- Drug trafficking, manufacturing, or cultivation
- Drug conspiracy
Types of Drug Charges
Possession of a controlled substance: this is the most common type of drug charge and involves intentionally possessing a controlled substance. There are two kinds of ownership — actual and constructive.
Actual possession means that there were drugs found on your person (holding a joint in your hand or having a packet of heroin in your pocket or a bag you’re carrying)
Constructive possession means don’t have the drugs on your person but have them within your “dominion and control” (drugs hidden in your apartment or your vehicle)
Possession with Intent to sell/distribute controlled substances: If you were in possession of a lot of drugs, law enforcement would assume you’re involved in broader activity than merely possession, and you would most likely be charged with possession with intent to sell or distribute. Law enforcement relies on evidence such as large amounts of cash, digital scales or baggies to support this accusation.
Manufacturing: it is against the law to cultivate or grow a narcotic plant (harvesting cannabis seeds, marijuana) or produce and create illegal substances through a chemical process (meth lab).
Possession of drug paraphernalia: equipment that’s used to prepare, inject, inhale, or conceal illegal drugs. Examples of drug paraphernalia may include
- A wide variety of pipes
- Rolling papers
Distribution/Trafficking: the intentional selling, delivering, transporting or importing of illegal drugs. The difference between drug trafficking and other drug crimes is the number of narcotics involved. Drug trafficking charges can carry serious mandatory minimum prison sentences that usually increase with the quantity of the drugs.
Conspiracy to commit a drug crime: steep penalties at the federal level.
Illegal use of prescription or over-the-counter medications
Drug Treatment and Alternatives to Incarceration
If you are a non-violent drug offender with no prior criminal history, you may be eligible for a diversionary program This enables you to avoid jail or prison sentence while getting you the treatment you need to get your life back on track.
Criminal Defense Strategies for Drug Charges
Lack of Possession: if you lacked “dominion and control” over the drugs found, your attorney could make an argument that you were not in possession of the drugs. For example, if drugs found in your apartment or home and you live with other people, it could technically belong to someone else.
Improper Police Conduct/Illegal Search and Seizure: A criminal defense attorney will scrutinize the investigative procedures used by the police in your arrest, including whether they had probable cause to search you, your vehicle or your home. If there was a violation of your constitutional rights during the search or arrest, your attorney could file a motion to suppress the evidence or to dismiss the charges.
Entrapment “sting operation” an informant or undercover agent coerced you into buying or selling drugs