While some people face drug charges under state law, major drug crimes often go to federal court. Federal drug charges can stem from large-scale trafficking operations that span several states, manufacturing or cultivation schemes, and smuggling rings. If federal authorities suspect you of controlled substance crimes, you may want to call an Austin federal drug lawyer first.
The federal criminal court system has its own set of rules, procedures, and means of filing criminal charges that differ markedly from state criminal court proceedings. A criminal defense lawyer who is accustomed to federal court could be essential to your ability to effectively and successfully defend yourself.
Federal Drug Investigations and Charges
All felony drug cases originate with grand jury indictments. As a result, federal investigative authorities may spend months, if not years, gathering evidence and building a case before the U.S. Attorney’s Office seeks an indictment. If individuals become aware that they are the target of a federal drug investigation, they may wish to seek legal advice at once.
Suspects may find out about drug investigations when DEA or other federal law enforcement agents contact them for information or interviews. Federal authorities may also execute search warrants on homes, vehicles, and workplaces to try and gather more evidence in support of an indictment. In this type of situation, individuals should consider calling a federal drug lawyer in Austin for legal guidance.
Federal Conspiracy Charges
Drug conspiracy is one of the more common offenses pursued by federal prosecutors. A conspiracy is merely an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime. For a drug conspiracy to occur, two or more people must agree to violate federal drug laws, intend to commit the crime, and at least one co-conspirator must take an overt act to carry out the conspiracy.
Federal prosecutors tend to favor conspiracy charges because there is no requirement that the accused persons actually carry out the crime. While most criminal charges arise from the commission of crimes, conspiracy stems merely from an agreement and a single step forward by only one co-conspirator. As an Austin federal drug attorney may advise, individuals can face criminal conspiracy charges even if they never committed the underlying violation.
Potential Penalties for Controlled Substance Violations
Generally, the penalties are more severe under federal sentencing guidelines than under state law. For example, many federal crimes have mandatory minimum sentences from which judges have no discretion to deviate. Release on parole is unavailable for federal crimes, and life sentences are far more common in federal criminal court proceedings, even for non-violent offenses.
The penalties for a drug conviction depend on numerous factors, including the type or schedule of the drug under federal law, the quantity involved, the circumstances surrounding the offense, and the kind of offense. For instance, a possession charge involving a Schedule IV controlled substance is likely to result in a lighter sentence than a trafficking charge for a Schedule I controlled substance. Other factors that may impact the penalties in federal drug cases include the involvement of minors and prior criminal convictions.
Call an Austin Federal Drug Attorney for Legal Assistance
Although federal drug charges may seem overwhelming, there is hope. Federal drug cases often have high stakes, but strong defenses may be available in your case. Working with an Austin federal drug lawyer may be the best way to identify and present evidence to tell your side of the story.
A felony drug conviction can impact you both personally and professionally. You may lose certain rights, become ineligible for certain jobs, and have a permanent criminal record. As a result, you may wish to take steps to defend yourself by enlisting an aggressive criminal defense attorney.