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Maryland Federal Drug Attorney
Federal drug crimes are not handled in the same manner as similar offenses prosecuted under Maryland state laws. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies, such as the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), investigate and prosecute federal drug charges from simple crimes like drug possession to more serious offenses such as drug trafficking. If you are facing an indictment, investigation, or charge for drug manufacturing, possession, distribution, trafficking, or other drug crimes, you should understand that your lifestyle is in serious jeopardy. You also risk forfeiting personal assets or going to prison. The emotional and financial effects on your family can be potentially devastating. You need the help of a criminal defense attorney with exceptional credentials and a proven record of winning complicated federal drug cases. A Maryland federal drug lawyer will know how to prepare an aggressive defense for your case. There are numerous civil and criminal consequences of a drug conviction, including losing your job, going to prison, paying fines, and a number of other possible penalties. Here is more information on other federal crimes prosecuted in Maryland.
Types of Federal Drug Charges
In 1970, Congress passed the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. This legislation organized federal drug laws and categorized drugs into five classifications called schedules. The Act contains the laws governing each of the schedules, the drugs listed under that category, and penalties for the misuse of the listed drugs. The Act also gives the U.S. Attorney General the authority to add drugs to the schedules. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your case, federal drug crime charges require effective and powerful defensive strategies. You need to take immediate steps to protect your rights. A lawyer with experience defending federal drug charges can defend you against the following offenses:
- Drug possession: This violation includes marijuana possession, as well as possession of any other illegal narcotics such as cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, and more;
- Drug cultivation: This offense involves the criminal act of growing or reproducing illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, Ecstasy, and LSD;
- Drug distribution: This charge usually refers to a small-scale operation that manufactures, transports, and sells illicit drugs;
- Drug manufacturing: This describes a large-scale drug enterprise that manufactures, transports, or conducts the sale drugs; and
- Drug trafficking: This offense covers the sale, manufacture, or transportation of large amounts of illegal drugs.
The most serious federal drug crimes involve drug trafficking. Even if you intend on using the drugs for your personal consumption and do not distribute them, if you have a particular amount of drugs in your possession the prosecutor will automatically charge you with drug trafficking. The seriousness of the charges can escalate based on factors like the amount of drugs in question, the situation under which you were arrested, and whether anyone was injured or killed.
Penalties for Federal Drug Crime Convictions
Generally, the state of Maryland prosecutes the majority of drug felonies and nearly all drug misdemeanor offenses. Cases that involve conspiracy or drug trafficking are transferred to federal prosecutors. Handling the prosecution at the federal level ensures that a conviction evokes harsher sentences in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines.
Factors That Can Influence Penalty
Federal prosecutors not only consider the quantity of drugs involved, but the prior criminal history of the defendant, whether weapons were involved in the crime, and if the crime involved minors. Most federal drug crime convictions require judges to levy mandatory prison sentences. This means that the judge does not have the leeway to consider extenuating circumstances and give defendants lighter sentences.
A first-time conviction for the possession of marijuana, in any amount, is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000. Subsequent convictions and greater amounts of marijuana can result in much harsher penalties. For example, the sale of less than 50 kg of marijuana, the smallest amount category, constitutes a felony under federal law. The crime is punishable by five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Convictions for possession of cocaine and heroin have more severe penalties. In some cases, the sale or distribution of these drugs can lead to lifetime imprisonment. For a list of federal drug trafficking penalties, visit the DEA’s website here.
Defending Federal Drug Charges in Maryland
A skilled federal drug lawyer in Maryland has a variety of defenses available to defend a client against federal drug crime charges. One strategy questions admissibility and sufficiency of the prosecutor’s evidence in the case. Some other defenses your attorney may invoke include:
- Questioning the accuracy of test results
- Challenging the legality of the search and seizure by the arresting officer
- Examining law enforcement procedural techniques
- Determining if the client’s constitutional rights were violated
Depending on the circumstances of the case, it is possible for you to be prosecuted by both the federal and state governments. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the defendant does not face double jeopardy even if charged and convicted by both the state and federal courts for the same act.
Find an Aggressive Maryland Federal Drug Lawyer
If you have been arrested on suspicion of a drug crime, do not assume that you cannot win your case. Contact a Maryland federal drug lawyer to have your case evaluated. Depending on the charges and the circumstance of your case, experienced defense attorney Kush Arora will work to get the charges reduced or have the matter dropped entirely. Call his Maryland law office today at (301) 761-4842 for a free case evaluation and to discuss the defenses that are available to you.