Federal Drug Crimes
All drug crimes are taken seriously in Florida, but the federal government is typically interested in prosecuting cases involving substantial amounts of controlled substances. Federal cases are different from most state drug offenses because of their complexity and the severity of the potential penalties. Defending federal drug crimes requires special attention and skill. If you are charged with a federal drug crime, a trustworthy Palm Beach Gardens federal drug crimes attorney can develop the best strategy to defend you.
Drug crimes have been part of my practice for 30 years, and I have defended many federal drug crimes cases. They present unique challenges that I am well equipped to meet.Federal Drug Charges Carry Mandatory Minimum Penalties
Before 2009, drug crimes made up the largest percentage of the federal caseload. Until 1987, federal judges had enormous discretion when it came to sentencing defendants convicted of drug crimes. However, the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 led to the creation of Sentencing Guidelines that regulated this discretion. Congress simultaneously eliminated the discretion of judges when sentencing defendants for certain crimes by requiring mandatory minimum sentences. This means that the judge does not have discretion to give you a prison term or fine that is lower than what is specified for specific offenses, even if there are mitigating circumstances that make you less blameworthy. Among the crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences today are federal drug crimes.
The nature of the mandatory minimum depends what action the defendant took with respect to the drug (possession with intent to distribute, manufacture, trafficking, or sale) and the amount of controlled substance involved. For example, mandatory sentences may be triggered whenever a crime involves one kilogram of heroin, five kilograms of cocaine, 280 grams of crack, 100 grams of PCP, 10 grams of LSD, 1000 marijuana plants, or 50 grams of meth. For a first conviction involving the manufacture of 280 grams of crack, for example, a judge must sentence you to at least 10 years in prison. In another example, life imprisonment may be imposed for a second conviction for distributing 50 grams of pure meth if death or serious bodily injury results.
Moreover, sentencing enhancements may apply if you are convicted of using a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime. In those cases, you will be sentenced to an additional five years. If you “brandish” the firearm, the judge must sentence you to at least an additional seven years. If you actually fire a shot, the judge must sentence you to at least an additional 10 years.Can a Florida Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer Help You?
As you can see, the penalties for drug trafficking in federal court are extremely harsh. An experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney can assess the facts of your situation to determine the defense strategies available to help you. You should retain a lawyer as soon as you know you are being investigated rather than wait and see what happens. The earlier I get involved in your federal drug crime case, the better equipped I am to help you. Call 561-533-1221, or contact me through my online form. My two offices are located in West Palm Beach and in Palm Beach Gardens near I-95 and PGA Boulevard. I accept credit cards.