Since 1970 with the passage of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, also referred to as the Controlled Substances Act, it has been illegal to possess, manufacture or distribute certain drugs known as controlled substances. The Controlled Substances Act categorized these drugs into five schedules, or classifications, and listed the penalties attributable to illegal activity regarding these drugs. Schedule I and II drugs are considered more serious as their use may lead to physical or psychological dependence or have a high potential for abuse.Click here to enable the notifications for- types of federal drug charges that a lawyer can help with.
Although a number of states have legalized the use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes or decriminalized the possession of small amounts, federal law preempts any state legislation designed to legalize any controlled substance listed under federal law.
List of Federal Drug Crimes
The Controlled Substances Act lists a number of crimes that come under federal jurisdiction:
This denotes no intent to distribute. You need a valid prescription to possess any controlled substance, though possession of any amount of marijuana, even if legal in your state, is a federal crime.
Manufacturing drugs is illegal as is producing precursor substances used to manufacture certain drugs along with the equipment and capacity to manufacture the drug. This includes knowingly allowing a drug manufacturing lab to operate.
This offense encompasses importation from outside the US or within a state. All trafficking offenses involving Schedule I or Schedule II substances receive the same penalty of 20 years to life if a fatality or serious bodily harm results from use of the subject drug.
Certain laws govern conspiracy and the evidence permitted to prove the crime. If there was an agreement between at least 2 people to violate a drug law and each participant knew of the agreement and intended to participate, and at least one act was performed in furtherance of the conspiracy, you can be charged and convicted. These laws make it easier for prosecutors to convict you of any act done, regardless if you actually engaged in it. It also includes any attempt to promote or to facilitate the manufacture, distribution or importation of a controlled substance.
Most drug distribution charges are handled under state law unless there was interstate traffic involved or federal narcotic agents wish to charge you under federal laws.
Continuing criminal enterprise
Also known as the CCE law, it punishes the offender who commits a predicate crime as part of a continuing series of violations and who supervises or manages at least 5 other individuals from whom the offender enjoys a certain gain or benefit. This offense is aimed at professional criminals or drug lords who operate vast drug enterprises.
Sell or transport drug paraphernalia
Buying or possessing drug paraphernalia is illegal, though it may not be illegal if it is used for personal use only. Paraphernalia is any equipment that is primarily intended to be used for processing, manufacturing, converting, concealing, preparing, injecting or introducing it into your body any controlled substance. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor in California.
Federal judges impose sentences based on federal sentencing guidelines. They may look at whether a firearm or other weapon was used, if the offense resulted in a fatality or serious injury to anyone and the defendant’s criminal history. There are certain mandatory minimum sentences as well as maximum prison terms for certain crimes. Sentence enhancements may be imposed if any drug activity occurred within a school or other designated zone.
Federal mandatory minimum sentences have come under intense scrutiny with the overwhelming prison population composed in large part of inmates who committed nonviolent drug crimes.
For example, the following 5 year mandatory minimum sentences apply in these drug possession convictions:
100 plants or 100 kilos of marijuana
28 grams of crack cocaine
100 grams of heroin
I gram of LSD
10 grams of PCP
5 grams of pure or 50 grams of impure methamphetamine
These sentences double to 10 years if a certain quantity of the drug is connected to your activity.
If you have a prior felony drug offense, your sentence is doubled. If a death results, your minimum sentence is 20 years while mandatory life in prison is imposed if a death occurs and you have one prior felony drug conviction.
For engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and a certain quantity of the substance is tied to you, or there is evidence that you received at least $10 million in gross receipts over a 12-month period, ($5 million for methamphetamine and a lesser quantity) you will be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Federal drug crimes usually mean extremely harsh sentences. If you face federal charges, contact a criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in the federal courts and is intimately familiar with federal drug laws and court procedures.