Experienced Lawyers in Federal Drug Charges
At the Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP, we have experience representing clients facing federal charges for drug crimes throughout the United States. If you are facing federal drug charges, you need to take your situation extremely seriously. You are facing significant punishment if convicted – punishment that can change the rest of your life – and the prosecutor will be pushing for the harshest sentence possible. Our attorneys have helped numerous clients avoid prosecution and conviction following federal investigations. Let us use our experience to enforce your Constitutional rights and fight for your freedom.
Federal Drug Charges Explained
If you are under investigation or have been arrested for drug possession, manufacturing, trafficking, or importation, you are facing the possibility of being fined millions of dollars and spending years – maybe even decades – behind bars. When it comes to sentencing, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) treats certain drugs differently from others. Along with the type of drug, factors that can impact your sentence include:
- The quantity of drugs involved
- Whether weapons were involved
- Your level of cooperation with the government
- Your prior criminal history (if any)
Defending Against Federal Drug Charges
While the Schedules under the Controlled Substances Act provide some indication of the severity of punishment for trafficking in various illegal drugs, there is not a direct correlation between Schedule number and severity of punishment. For example, the federal sentencing guidelines for trafficking in the following drugs are identical, even though they fall across three different Schedules:
- Cocaine (Schedule II) – 500 to 4,999 grams mixture
- Cocaine Base (Schedule II) – 28 to 279 grams mixture
- Fentanyl (Schedule IV) – 40 to 399 grams mixture
- Heroin (Schedule I) – 100 to 99 grams mixture
- LSD (Schedule I) – 1 to 9 grams mixture
- Methamphetamine (Schedule II) – 5 to 49 grams pure or 40 to 499 grams mixture
- PCP (Schedule II) – 10 to 99 grams pure or 100-999 grams mixture
Penalties for Federal Drug Charges
If you are convicted of trafficking these drugs in these quantities, the minimum punishment for a first offense is five years in federal prison and up to $5 million in fines for an individual. If your business is facing charges, the fines max out at $25 million. In cases involving death or serious bodily injury, the minimum prison sentence jumps to 20 years.
For a second offense, the minimum prison terms are 10 years for non-violent crimes and life imprisonment for cases involving death or serious injury. The possible fines for individuals and businesses climb to $8 million and $50 million, respectively.
If you are arrested for trafficking these drugs in greater quantities than those listed above, your possible punishment increases substantially:
- First offense – Minimum 10-year prison sentence (20 years for death or serious bodily injury), and up to $10 million in fines for individuals and $50 million for businesses.
- Second offense – Minimum 20-year prison sentence (life sentence for death or serious bodily injury), and up to $20 million in fines for individuals and $75 million for businesses.
- Third offense – Life sentence, and up to $20 million in fines for individuals and $75 million for businesses.
Trafficking in Other Drugs (other than Marijuana)
For other drugs, with some exceptions (including marijuana), the sentencing guidelines generally correlate with Schedule numbers. The following are the basic guidelines for a first offense, but recall the list of factors mentioned above that can affect your sentence.
- Schedules I and II – Up to 20 years without death or serious bodily injury, and fines of $1 million for individuals and $5 million for businesses.
- Schedule III – Up to ten years without death or serious bodily injury, and fines of $500,000 for individuals and $2.5 million for businesses.
- Schedule IV – Up to five years in prison, and fines of $250,000 for individuals and $1 million for businesses.
- Schedule V – Up to one year in prison, and fines of $100,000 for individuals and $250,000 for businesses.
The federal sentencing guidelines for marijuana trafficking differ from the guidelines discussed above, though they are still extremely severe. Here you can view a chart of the federal penalties for marijuana trafficking.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Federal Drug Charges
Note that the above guidelines focus exclusively on federal sentencing for trafficking in controlled substances. The penalties for other crimes – such as conspiracy, possession, and illegal importation – can vary widely. In addition, if you are facing federal drug crime charges, it is possible that you are facing state charges as well.
At Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP, our federal drug charge attorneys can help you understand your situation and execute a comprehensive strategy for minimizing the consequences of your arrest. To schedule a free consultation, call (888) 727-0472 or contact us online today.