Federal Drug Lawyer
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Since the United States declared the infamous “war on drugs,” federal authorities, like the FBI and DEA, are under intense pressure to aggressively investigate drug crimes, just like federal prosecutors are under the same amount of pressure to ensure those who commit federal drug crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
This means that federal drug crimes are some of the most difficult criminal cases to defend. For this reason, if you’ve been arrested for a federal drug crime in Phoenix, you need to hire a dependable and experienced defense attorney like those at Belén Law Firm.
If you’re facing federal drug charges, such as drug trafficking, drug smuggling, or manufacturing drugs, then your freedom and life as you know it may be at risk. If you believe that you’re under federal investigation or if you’ve been arrested by federal agents, contact Phoenix federal drug offense lawyer Belén Olmedo Guerra today at 602-715-0908 for a free consultation regarding your case.
Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney for Federal Drug Crimes
If you’re facing federal drug charges, you’ll need a federal drug crimes lawyer with extensive experience defending cases similar to yours in federal court. Federal court processes are much different than those at the state level, as are the sentencing requirements. That’s why, if you don’t work with a qualified federal drug crimes lawyer, you’re putting yourself at a huge disadvantage. And keep in mind, federal criminal defense attorneys need more time to prepare for federal drug cases, so it’s imperative that you retain the services of a federal drug crimes lawyer as soon as possible for the best possible outcome in your federal drug case.
Phoenix attorney Belén Olmedo Guerra represents clients accused of drug crimes at both the local and federal level. If you believe federal authorities are actively investigating you for federal drug crimes, contact Belén Law Firm as soon as possible. All conversations are confidential under federal law, and your initial consultation is free.
Types of Federal Drug Charges
There are both state and federal statutes that penalize drug crimes. Accusations of the following types of drug crimes can result in federal drug crime charges:
- Drug Distribution
- Drug Exportation
- Drug Importation
- Drug Manufacturing
- Drug Smuggling
- Drug Trafficking
Additionally, even if you don’t follow through with a federal drug crime, if you’re accused of working with or making an agreement with one or more people to commit the alleged drug crime, you can still face federal charges for drug conspiracy. What’s more, if you’re accused of drug crime that is tied to any criminal organization, you could also face racketeering charges under the RICO act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).
Federal Crimes for Controlled Substances
Many times, federal drug cases involve controlled substances. Controlled substances are drugs, individual chemicals, or a mixture of chemicals whose use, manufacture, and possession are highly regulated by the federal government. According to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), these substances can include both illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine and cocaine, as well as controlled prescription drugs, like Xanax or Adderall.
Federal statutes classify each controlled substance into one of five schedules that are based on the substance’s potential for abuse, the potential for dependency, and the current accepted medical use.
The current controlled substance schedule is as follows:
Schedule I Drugs
These are drugs with no accepted medical use and a higher potential for abuse.
The most common examples include:
It’s important to note that federal agencies still consider marijuana a Schedule I drug, even though many states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.
Schedule II Drugs
These are drugs or substances that have a high potential for abuse that may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
Examples of Schedule II narcotics include:
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®)
- Methadone (Dolophine®)
- Meperidine (Demerol®)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin® or Percocet®)
- Fentanyl (Sublimaze® or Duragesic®)
Examples of Schedule II stimulants include:
- Amphetamine (Adderall®, Dexedrine®, Vyvanse®, Desoxyn®, etc.)
- Methamphetamine (Desoxyn®)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin®)
Other Schedule II drugs include amabarbital, glutethimide, and pentobarbital, and similar prescription medications.
Schedule III Drugs
Substances that fall within this category may lead to a moderate physical dependence or psychological dependance. However, they have less potential for abuse than Schedule I or Schedule II.
Examples of Schedule III narcotics include products that contain up to 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit. This could include Tylenol with Codeine® or Suboxone®.
Examples of Schedule III non-narcotics include:
- Anabolic steroids, like Depo®-Testosterone.
Schedule IV Drugs
Schedule IV drugs have very low potential for abuse. Examples include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax®)
- Carisoprodol (Soma®)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin®)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene®)
- Diazepam (Valium®)
- Lorazepam (Ativan®)
- Midazolam (Versed®)
- Temazepam (Restoril®)
- Triazolam (Halcion®)
Schedule V Drugs
These drugs have a very low potential for abuse or dependency and consist mainly of preparations containing limited quantities of specific narcotics. As such, Schedule V drugs mainly include cough syrups or pills that contain 200 milligrams of codeine or less per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams, such as Robitussin AC®, Phenergan with Codeine®, and ezogabine.
What Makes a Drug Crime a Federal Offense?
Drug crimes can result in criminal charges being brought in a state court, federal court, or both. Many times, a drug arrest is made by the local authorities and the drug charges are filed by the state. However, there are specific circumstances that will result in a drug crime being charged by the federal government.
For example, if federal agents make the drug arrest or if local law enforcement is working with federal authorities, then the drug crime will more than likely be charged as a federal case. Additionally, if the drug crime in question crosses either state lines or international borders, it will be charged as a federal criminal offense. Additionally, depending on the illegal drug involved and the amount confiscated, certain drug charges may become federal charges.
Federal drug crime cases are investigated aggressively by federal law enforcement agencies and prosecuted harshly by federal prosecutors, so the penalties for federal crimes involving illegal drugs are far more severe than those at the state level.
Penalties for Federal Drug Crimes
Under state law, federal penalties for crimes involving illegal drugs and controlled substances are very harsh. If you’re convicted of a federal drug crime, you could face a lengthy prison sentence, steep fines, or both.
Federal authorities must strictly adhere to federal sentencing guidelines, as these provide a “very precise calibration of sentences.” The mandatory minimum sentences consider several factors including the harm caused by the offense, the subjective guilt of the drug offender, the defendant’s criminal record, the type and amount of illegal drugs involved, and any other aggravating circumstances.
It’s important to note that most federal drug convictions will carry a mandatory minimum sentence that includes time in prison, and because those convicted of federal crimes don’t have the option for parole, many drug offenders who are convicted serve very long prison sentences.
The following are examples of drug-related crimes and the federal penalties that are assigned to those crimes according to federal law.
Drug Cultivation Penalties
Federal laws state that it is illegal to grow, sell, transport, distribute, possess, or traffic illegal substances like marijuana. Most cultivating offenses include the possession of marijuana seeds, planting marijuana seeds, drying the plants, and processing them for recreational use.
Typically, local authorities will charge the person with cultivation and possession with intent to sell if they discover two or more plants. According to federal statutes, penalties for cultivation are as follows (with the prison time being the mandatory minimum sentence and the fine being the maximum amount):
- Less than 50 plants: 5 years in prison and $250,000 fine
- 50-99 plants: 20 years in prison and $1,000,000 fine
- 100-999 plants: 5-40 years in prison and $500,000 fine
- 1,00 or more plants: 10 years-life imprisonment and $1,000,000 fine
Every federal drug cultivation case is unique and will require its own strategic criminal defense strategy. Retaining an experienced Phoenix drug crime attorney like Belén Olmedo Guerra can drastically affect the outcome of your case, especially if your case is heading to the federal courts.
Drug Manufacturing Penalties
Drug manufacturing applies to anyone who prepares or produces any illegal substances that are sold to a consumer or intended to be sold to a consumer. Criminal charges associated with manufacturing include operating a methamphetamine lab, growing marijuana, gathering supplies to manufacture drugs, and possessing manufacturing equipment.
For manufacturing charges, there are several aggravating factors that can affect the sentence of your federal drug case. These include:
- Prior criminal record
- Proximity to any schools or playgrounds
- Firearms on the premises
A federal conviction for manufacturing a controlled substance carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in federal prison. But, if you’re found guilty of manufacturing the following controlled substances in the quantities listed below, you can face up to 40 years in prison, a fine of up to $5 million as an individual, or up to $25 million if you’re operating with a group.
- Cocaine: 500 grams or more
- Cocaine base: 28 grams or more
- Heroin: 100 grams or more
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD): 1 gram or more
- Marijuana: 100 kilograms or more
- Methamphetamine: 5 grams or more
- Phencyclidine (PCP): 10 grams or more
There are situations where the penalties for a manufacturing drug crime are increased. For example, if a person dies as a result of using your manufactured product, you could be sentenced to life in prison.
Drug Possession Penalties
Any person convicted on federal charges of possessing any controlled substance faces penalties of up to a year in prison and a mandatory fine of no less than $1,000 and no more than $100,000.
If someone is convicted twice, the offense is punishable by no less than 15 days and no more than 2 years, with a minimum fine of $2,500. Subsequent federal convictions are punishable by no less than 90 days in prison but no more than 3 years and a minimum fine of $5,000.
The following substances carry mandatory minimum sentences of 5 years in prison and fines of up to $2 million for first-time offenders.
- Cocaine: 500-4999 gms
- Cocaine base: 4-49 gm
- Heroin: 100-999 gms
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD): 1-9 gms
- Methamphetamine: 5-49 gms pure or 50-499 gms
- Phencyclidine (PCP): 10-99 gms pure or 100-999 gms mixture
- N-Phenyl-N-propanamide (fentanyl): 40-399 gm or more
The following substances carry mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in prison and fines up to $4 million for first-time offenders.
- Cocaine: 5 kg or more
- Cocaine base: 50 gm or more
- Heroin: 1 kg or more
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD): 10 gm or more
- Methamphetamine: 100 gm or more
- Phencyclidine (PCP): 100 gm or more
- N-Phenyl-N-propanamide (fentanyl): 400 gm or more
Drug Trafficking Penalties
If you are convicted of drug trafficking, you could face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. If someone died or sustained a serious injury as a result of the drug crime in question, you could face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Drug Importation Penalties
If you are convicted in federal court for importing any controlled substance, you could face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 5 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years. If another person sustained serious injuries or died due to the drug-related crime, you could face a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.
How a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help With Your Drug Charge
Our federal government is notoriously harsh on federal cases with drugs involved, even though many drug crimes produce far less severe outcomes for the general public. Belén Olmedo Guerra has provided successful drug crime defense for those accused of manufacturing, trafficking illicit drugs, possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, drug conspiracy, and more.
When you retain the legal services of Belén Law Firm, we will use every resource available to conduct our own investigation into your charges and use every applicable defense possible to strengthen your case. All defendants have a right to competent federal criminal defense, and as your legal counsel, Belén will go above the call of duty to ensure that you get the best possible outcome based on the specific circumstances surrounding your case.
If your drug charge was brought on by an illegal search, we may be able to get the charges dropped altogether, or if there is insufficient evidence to link you to the crime in question, we’ll poke holes in the government’s case. In criminal defense cases, we don’t have to prove your innocence, just provide reasonable doubt. Well-versed federal defense attorneys like Belén and her renowned legal team understand how the U.S. criminal justice system works and how to defend those who have the weight of the federal government against them.
At Belén Law Firm, we provide a free consultation, and everything you say is completely confidential. Call 602-715-0908 or complete our online intake form today for your free case evaluation.