28th August 2021
Facing any sort of drug offense is intimidating, of course. But facing a federal charge is even worse, considering the severity of the penalties. You need an exceptionally skilled lawyer who not only has experience, but a track record of success in defending people against this type of crime. At Sand Law PLLC, we have a proven process that has helped many of our clients. We may be able to do the same for you.
Please get in touch with us online or call 701-609-1510 to learn more.
Drug Laws in the United States
All drug crimes can come with serious consequences, of course. Those that involve selling or distribution move to the level of federal offenses, tried in a federal court – with entirely different rules from local or state courts. That’s why you need an attorney who has specific knowledge of how federal courts work, and knows how to put together the best possible defense.
The Five “Schedules”
One of the ways in which the federal system is different is in the way certain drugs are designated or “scheduled.” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is responsible for setting these schedules. The DEA takes several different factors into consideration when determining where to place a specific drug on a specific schedule. These include the potential for abuse, evidence regarding the effects of the drug, the potential for the drug to cause addiction, and more.
Here’s a brief look at each of the five schedules.
- Schedule I – Examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin and marijuana. These are drugs considered to have a high abuse potential, with no accepted medical uses in the US.
- Schedule II – Schedule II drugs, such as cocaine and morphine, can lead to severe physical or psychological dependence if abused.
- Schedule III – These include testosterone, medications containing codeine (less than 90 mg per dose), and anabolic steroids. Schedule III drugs present less of a potential for abuse than Schedule I and II drugs, and are currently accepted for use in medical treatment. Use of Schedule III drugs could lead to a low or moderate risk of dependence.
- Schedule IV – Schedule IV drugs are primarily used as medications, such as Ambien, Valium, Xanax, Darvocet and others. Abuse may result in a limited risk of dependence.
- Schedule V – Many cough medications fall into this category (particularly, medicines that have less than 200 mg of codeine per 100 ml). Other Schedule V medicines include Lyrica, Lomotil and others. These are considered to have less of a risk for dependence than Schedule IV drugs.
Types of Federal Drug Offenses
In addition to the different drug schedules, there are also different drug-related offenses that can rise to the level of a federal crime. These are a few examples.
Anyone who grows, distributes, sells or transports marijuana or any other drug on the DEA schedule is considered to be in violation of federal law. This can include a seemingly minor offense such as possessing or planting marijuana seeds, in some cases. Even though many states allow marijuana for medicinal use, federal law considers cultivation a federal crime.
Importation of Drugs
It’s also a federal offense to bring any sort of Schedule I or II controlled substance, or any Schedule III, IV or V narcotic, into the United States. There are certain instances where non-narcotic importation is allowed, such as if the substance is important for scientific, medical or other legitimate uses.
Making any sort of illegal controlled substance, or making a counterfeit substance with the intention of passing it off as a “real” substance, is also a federal crime. These include substances, such as methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, heroin and others.
The federal government is extremely aggressive when it comes to prosecuting crimes of this nature. In many instances, sentences are twice as convictions for possession or even trafficking. The penalties can get even worse if you’re convicted of manufacturing in the proximity of a playground or school, or if you are charged with possessing a weapon at the same time.
Possession of Narcotics
You could be charged with federal drug possession even if you have no history of convictions for federal crimes. Even if you were convicted years ago with possession of a small amount of marijuana, you could be subject to severe federal penalties. If you have more than one previous drug possession conviction – no matter how seemingly minor it might be – the penalties could be even worse.
This is an especially serious offense – one of the most serious, in fact. Smuggling can include controlled substances such as cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana, and even prescription medications such as Valium, OxyContin and Vicodin. If you are charged with smuggling with another person or persons, that could rise to the level of conspiracy.
Drug trafficking is basically importing, selling or distributing controlled substances. The severity of the penalties will depend on several factors, including the following:
- Whether or not this is your first drug-related offense.
- Your overall criminal history.
- Whether or not a minor was involved.
- Whether or not you crossed international or state borders.
- If anyone was injured or killed during the offense.
In 2018, the average drug trafficking sentence was more than six years. You could be looking at lengthy prison time even if this is your first offense. There is also a chance you could be subjected to large fines and loss of property. If you’re not a citizen of the United States, you could be deported.
Contact a Talented North Dakota Drug Defense Attorney Today
As you can see, any sort of federal drug charge is a high-stakes matter, one that could severely impact you for the rest of your life. You simply have to have the best possible defense.
Please take this seriously. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Sand Law just as soon as you can. We can provide you with a consultation at no cost, and start to determine the best strategy for your case. Not only do we have a great deal of experience, we also have a long record of successes. We will make sure your rights are protected at all times.