Defending Against Serious Federal Drug-Related Charges
Facing federal criminal charges for a drug conspiracy is an extremely serious matter. Depending on the scope of the allegations, a drug conspiracy conviction could potentially result in years in federal prison. If you were arrested by federal authorities and accused of involvement in any type of illegal drug scheme, you need aggressive defense representation immediately.
The criminal defense lawyers at Duffy Law have extensive experience with the federal criminal justice system—both as prosecutors and defense attorneys. Their perspective allows them to skillfully craft defenses for every client to minimize—or eliminate—possible penalties that they face. If authorities accuse you of involvement in a drug conspiracy, do not wait any longer—call Duffy Law now.
Drug Charges in Federal Court
When you think of simple drug possession or even possession with the intent to distribute drugs, you likely think of cases that take place in state criminal court. However, federal authorities take drug crimes seriously and commonly investigate wider-scale drug operations. Recently, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to renew the war on drugs and is encouraging the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other federal law enforcement agencies to ramp up efforts in arresting suspected drug distributors.
The federal government often uses its resources to go after larger drug operations that involve numerous people. Therefore, drug conspiracy charges are often issued in addition to drug possession or distribution charges, which can increase the penalties that defendants face. If you are arrested, you were probably under investigation for participation in a drug operation for some time before that. Federal agencies tend to gather significant evidence using many investigative tactics including undercover sting operations. Therefore, by the time people are arrested and charged with drug conspiracy, prosecutors are armed with a wealth of information. Hiring an aggressive defense attorney who understands federal drug cases is essential.
What Constitutes a Drug Conspiracy?
A conspiracy under federal law means it is illegal for two or more individuals to agree to violate the law together. This felony conspiracy charge can apply to almost any crime and can apply even if the people involved never completed the offense. General conspiracy charges have a maximum sentence of five years.
Another federal law directly addresses the conspiracy to commit a drug-related offense. The possible penalties for drug-related conspiracy can be much harsher than other types of criminal conspiracies because anyone convicted of a drug conspiracy can face the maximum sentence for the drug crime—even if the so-called conspirators never carried out the crime. If a drug conspiracy is alleged to have involved trafficking a large amount of narcotics, it can mean all accused participants can face lengthy mandatory minimum sentences. If a conspiracy is alleged to involve trafficking 500 grams or more of cocaine, 28 grams or more of crack cocaine, or 100 grams or more of heroin it could mean five to 40 years in federal prison. If the conspiracy is alleged to involve trafficking 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, 280 grams or more of crack cocaine, or 1 kilogram or more of heroin, it could mean 10 years to life in prison.
To convict someone of a federal drug conspiracy, a federal prosecutor must prove two main elements:
- Two or more persons agreed to violate the law
- Each participant was aware of the agreement and joined it voluntarily
Other types of conspiracies require that a prosecutor prove that a defendant engaged in an overt act to further the crime – in other words, someone in the conspiracy took an affirmative step toward making the illegal act happen. This is not the case with drug conspiracy charges and no overt act on the part of any participant is required—only the agreement. This makes it easier for a prosecutor to obtain a drug conspiracy conviction, even though it has more severe penalties than other conspiracy charges. Because of the weakened elements of this offense, hire proficient defense attorneys as early in the process as possible.
Defending Against Drug Conspiracy Charges
An experienced attorney can defend against drug conspiracy allegations in many different ways. The following are only some examples of potential defenses, and our attorneys can identify which defenses apply in your case:
- Lack of knowledge – If you didn’t know about the plan or agreement to commit a drug offense, the authorities cannot consider you a conspirator. Sometimes, you may be associated with a group of people who may conspire to commit a crime while you had no requisite knowledge of the plan and never agreed to participate.
- Duress – In some cases, others may threaten you if you do not help them commit a drug crime. This is more common than you think. Duress is a difficult defense to prove, however. If you involuntarily participated in the conspiracy due to threats, we can present this defense in your case.
- Entrapment – This is another challenging defense that applies when an undercover officer induces you to agree to a conspiracy when you wouldn’t have otherwise done so. This is against the law and your attorney can use it as a defense to a crime.
Fourth Amendment violations – In many drug-related cases, law enforcement discovers drug evidence via unlawful searches that violate your Fourth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. If an officer did not have a valid search warrant or consent to search, or if a traffic stop was unlawful, our defense attorneys can work to suppress the drug evidence.
The above are only some defenses that we may use against federal drug conspiracy charges. We can also see if a favorable plea bargain is a possibility and help you weigh your options between pleading guilty and going to trial. Our defense attorneys are experienced litigators with extensive experience in federal criminal courtrooms, and we can protect your rights—including at trial, when needed.
Call Our Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys to Discuss Your Case Today
At Duffy Law, we know the ins and outs of the federal criminal justice system from direct experience. We also understand how serious federal drug conspiracy charges can be. We will explore every opportunity to defend our clients against such allegations and fight against wrongful conviction every step of the way. If you believe you are under investigation or if you have been arrested, please do not wait to call (203) 946-2000 or contact us online for a consultation.