NYC Federal Drug Conspiracy Lawyers
Federal cases involving drug conspiracies are some of the most serious crimes in existence. This set of laws covers a very broad range of drug related activity. As such, it is fairly common for federal prosecutors to commandeer state cases, and try them in district court where the penalties are much harsher. Federal drug conspiracy charges need an thorough, aggressive defense.
An Overview of Federal Drug Conspiracy Charges
Federal drug charges can be initiated for a myriad of reasons. Some of the commonly targeted activities include possession, manufacturing, trafficking and distribution. Federal cases are usually reserved for defendants dealing with a large quantity of controlled substances. As stated above, federal law imposes strict punishments upon guilty parties. In trafficking or distribution cases, the sentence can vary depending on the type of substance, the amount, the location of crime and the defendant’s criminal record. Many federal crimes carry minimum sentences of at least 10 years.
What is a Drug Conspiracy
A conspiracy is merely an agreement to engage in a criminal act. It is a separate crime from the underlying criminal act itself. Thus, if you follow through in a conspiracy, you can be charged with two different offenses.
To prove the existence of a drug crime conspiracy, the prosecution will have to prove three elements: that an agreement existed, that the defendant knew of it, and that he or she willingly joined the plan. The prosecution may also have to prove that the defendant carried out an overt act which demonstrates his or her intent to act on the conspiracy.
The prosecution does not have to rely on direct evidence, such as a written document, to prove the case. A conspiracy can be shown through circumstantial evidence alone.
Who Can be Charged in a Conspiracy Case?
The category of people who can be charged in a conspiracy case is far reaching. Whenever there is an agreement between two or more people to engage in a drug offense, each person can be charged with conspiracy. Furthermore, any person who can be connected to someone who has the intention to break the law may be charged. It doesn’t matter if the person actually participates in the final act.
A conspirator can also be held responsible for all the crimes committeed by a co-conspirator. This is especially true where an agreement is made to commit an end crime, and the co-conspirator carries out additional crimes towards the common purpose. Anyone involved in the conspiracy will be charged for any forseeable crime that is comitted by another to achieve the common goal.
Sentencing in Federal Drug Conspiracy Cases
Federal law comes down hard on those who are convicted of a drug conspiracy. The statutory minimum sentences found in 21 U.S.C. section 846 apply to the crime of conspiracy. However, the actual sentence imposed will depend on the type and amount of the controlled substance at issue. No mandatory minimum sentence will be imposed for marijuana, crack, heroin or methamphetamine if the government does not specify the amount involved in the crime. Yet, when federal prosecutors do declare an amount, the sentence will vary.
A conspiracy involving more than 100kg of marijuana can be punished by five to forty years in prison. Marijuana offenses exceeding 1000kg are subject to a sentence of 10 years to life.
For offenses involving cocaine there is a maximum sentence of 20 years when no specific amount is alleged. When a defendant is accused of a conspiracy involving at least 500 grams of cocaine or 28 grams of crack, the sentence will be five to 40 years. For offenses involving five kgs of cocaine (or 280g of crack) the sentence can range from 10 years to life.
Methamphetamine-related conspiracies can be punished by five to forty years if at least 5g is involved. The punishment rises to 10 years to life for 50g or more of the substance.
Potential Defenses in a Drug Conspiracy Case
You need a solid defense when facing drug conspiracy charges. The prosecution will need to prove the elements of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the defense lawyer’s job to make sure one or all of the elements cannot be satisfied. One major issue that is often explored by defense lawyers is whether the defendant truly came to an agreement about the criminal scheme. If this element is successfully challenged, it may be cause to have the case dismissed.
Defense efforts may also be focused on the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. If federal law enforcement agencies violated your right to be free from illegal search and seizures it could allow for the suppression of any related evidence. By hiring a NYC federal drug conspiracy lawyer, you’ll have the best chance at making sure your rights are protected.
May 17, 2018
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