Federal drug trafficking charges are far more serious than other drug crimes. If you have been charged under federal law, you face experienced prosecutors, a well-built case against you and the up to 40 years in prison—or even life. Do not face this kind of charge alone. You need to talk to a federal drug trafficking lawyer.
The Simmrin Law Group can help. We have attorneys who have focused their entire careers on federal charges and know how to fight even the toughest prosecutors. Our firm has one job: bringing back the best possible verdict for you, whether in the courtroom or out of it. In many cases we may be able to help you avoid prison time or even walk away with no penalties. Let us give you a free consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What makes a federal drug trafficking charge different?
If you are charged with drug trafficking under the Federal Criminal Code, it means that you will face a difficult legal battle with very severe consequences—including up to 40 years in prison on a first offense. Drug offenses may be charged as federal crimes if they were committed on federal property (including airports) or if you were believed to be in violation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a federal law. In most cases this means you were investigated and arrested by a federal agency such as the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). Most of the time, though not always, the DEA focuses on large-scale drug operations, not smaller possession cases.
Federal drug crimes are not just different under the law, however. They are also different in how they are prosecuted. Conviction rates are very high in federal court because the prosecution has all the resources of the specialized government agency that targeted you. The DEA works almost exclusively on drug crimes. It has both the manpower and the know-how to arm the prosecution with a powerful case.
If you are facing a federal drug trafficking charge, you need more than just a lawyer. You need an experienced federal crimes attorney who understands the way the DEA and federal prosecutors work, and knows what kind of defense can win in federal court.
How does the federal schedule of controlled substances work?
The CSA lists certain drugs on a “schedule” of how dangerous or restricted they are. Not all of these drugs are completely illegal, but all are controlled by the law in some ways—for example, restricted to prescription use or hospital use only. There are five categories on the schedule, ranked from Schedule I to Schedule V. The substances that are more restricted are supposedly more addictive (physically or psychologically) and more prone to abuse. The more restricted substances tend not to have any current, accepted medical uses, although this could be because the federal government makes it difficult to research their medical properties in the first place.
Here is a short version of the “schedule” with examples of drugs in each category:
- Schedule I – high risk of abuse and addiction – no accepted medical uses
- Schedule II – high risk of abuse and addiction – few or restricted medical uses
- Schedule III – moderate risk of abuse and addiction – there are accepted medical uses
- anabolic steroids
- Vicodin or other painkillers with hydrocodone
- Schedule IV – lower risk than above – there are accepted medical uses
- Schedule V – lower risk than all of the above – there are accepted medical uses
- Cough syrups containing codeine
- Antidiarrheals containing low levels of opium
How does California’s decriminalization of marijuana affect federal drug charges?
The short answer is, it doesn’t.
This is an ongoing source of controversy. Several states, including California, have decriminalized or legalized marijuana to various degrees. Under California law, it’s legal for adults 21 and older to have small amounts of marijuana for personal recreational use (or medicinal use). However, this does not change federal law. Federal law lists marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. Until and unless there is a nationwide, federal legalization of marijuana—or the DEA reclassifies marijuana—federal agents will prosecute marijuana cases from California.
Additionally, drug trafficking itself remains illegal under California law, even for marijuana. State authorities will cooperate with federal authorities to prosecute these cases.
What are the penalties for a federal drug trafficking conviction?
Most federal drug trafficking cases are prosecuted under a part of the United States Code known as 18 USC Section 841 . This law sets different penalties for different amounts of drugs, but the DEA tends to focus on cases with larger amounts. The lower end of most DEA cases, for example, would include:
- 1-9 grams of LSD
- 5-49 grams of methamphetamine
- 5-49 grams of cocaine base
- 100-999 grams of heroin
- 500-4,999 grams of cocaine
- 100-999 marijuana plants or 100-999 kilograms of marijuana leaf mixture
For these amounts, the penalties would be:
- First offense: 5-40 years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million ($5 million for marijuana)
- Second offense: 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $4 million (20 to life and $8 million for marijuana)
Penalties get substantially higher as the amounts involved go up, and fines are much higher if the case involves an organization rather than an individual.
There are extra penalties if anyone was killed or seriously hurt in relation to the trafficking.
Talk to a Los Angeles Federal Drug Trafficking Lawyer for Free
Drug trafficking is not a minor charge, especially in the hands of the feds. Let the Simmrin Law Group be the heavy hitter on your team. We will give you a FREE consultation and start building your defense. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.