When a person is arrested for a drug crime, he or she could face state or federal charges depending on the circumstances of the situation. Often times, state offenses can carry penalties such as jail or prison time and expensive fines. However, when a person is charged with a federal offense, he or she could face a significantly more severe punishment.
Florida and the federal government have laws concerning controlled substances. Generally, the laws are similar, such as making certain substances illegal to possess or to traffic. However, there are some changes in the amount of a substance required to qualify as a certain offense and the corresponding penalties.
West Palm Beach Federal Drug Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for a federal drug offense, it is important to understand the severity of the situation. Federal drug charges can be life altering. It is crucial you have a skilled West Palm Beach federal drug crime defense lawyer building a strong defense for your case.
Contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. Our experienced attorneys have worked on both sides of the law, and they know what it takes to get favorable results in drug offenses cases. Collectively, the criminal defense lawyers at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. have taken more than 200 cases to jury trial through verdict. They are aggressive, and they know how to fight for you.
Call (561) 557-8686 to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our dedicated attorneys. We represent clients in West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Jupiter, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Belle Glade, Juno Beach, Greenacres and the surrounding areas.
Information About Federal Drug Charges
- Federal Drug Charges in Florida
- Classification of Substances by Schedules
- Penalties for Federal Drug Crimes
Both state and federal laws make it a crime to possess, distribute, sell, manufacture, possess with the intent to sell or traffic a variety of controlled substances. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, some of the substances that are considered illegal include:
- Marijuana or cannabis
Most often, the federal government becomes involved in drug charges when a large amount of a controlled substance is involved, such as trafficking or manufacturing. Federal agents also could become involved in a case if a large amount of a substance is being manufactured or sold. These charges could carry steep mandatory minimums with millions of dollars in fines.
However, a person could be charged with a federal offense if the alleged incident occurs on federal property, such as a post office, or if a federal agent was involved. Some of the most commonly charged federal drug offenses include:
- Simple drug possession, 21 U.S.C. § 844
- Drug trafficking, 21 U.S.C. § 841
- Drug conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 371
- Manufacturing drugs, 21 U.S.C. § 841
Additionally, a person could face federal drug charges if the state and federal prosecutors agree to have the offense tried at the federal level. This should be taken seriously because federal charges often are more serious and could mean more substantial sanctions.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 also established schedules for drugs, a system which classifies substances based on their likeliness for abuse and their potential medical benefits. The schedules range from Schedule I to Schedule V.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration are the federal agencies that are responsible for determining which drugs get added, removed or transferred from one schedule to another.
- Schedule I —These drugs offer no accepted medical benefits and carry a high potential for abuse. Examples of this type of drug include marijuana, LSD, heroin and ecstasy.
- Schedule II — These drugs have a high potential for abuse and dependency. This could include morphine, oxycodone, opium, amphetamine, codeine and hydromorphone.
- Schedule III — These substances have comparatively less potential for abuse than a Schedule I or II drug, but they have a high probability of psychological dependency and a moderate potential for physical dependency. Examples include products with less than 90 milligrams of codeine such as Tylenol with codeine and Vicodin.
- Schedule IV —These drugs have less potential for abuse, and they can include Xanax and Valium.
- Schedule V — These drugs have a comparatively low potential for abuse and dependency.
Penalties for federal drug offenses largely are based on the schedule of the substance involved in the alleged crime. For instance, if a person is charged with trafficking a Schedule I drug, he or she likely would face more serious consequences than if he or she was allegedly trafficking a Schedule V substance.
The penalties a person charged with a federal drug crime could face vary depending on the exact nature of the offense and the schedule of the substance. A conviction for a federal offense could mean lengthy prison sentences in a federal institute, expensive fines and other sanctions.
Crimes that involve injury to a person or death could have more serious consequences. Additionally, if a weapon was used, the charges could increase. In these federal cases, the history of the alleged offender also could play a part in the sentencing.
For example, some first-time trafficking offenses could carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison, along with a maximum fine of $5 million for an individual and $25 million if not an individual. Some of those offenses include:
- Trafficking 500 to 4,999 grams of cocaine
- Trafficking 28 to 279 grams of cocaine base
- Trafficking 40 to 399 grams of fentanyl
- Trafficking 10 to 99 grams fentanyl analogue
- Trafficking 100 to 999 grams of heroin
- Trafficking 1 to 9 grams of LSD
- Trafficking 5 to 49 grams of pure methamphetamine
- Trafficking 50 to 499 grams of methamphetamine mixture
- Trafficking 10 to 99 grams of pure PCP
- Trafficking 100 to 999 grams of PCP mixture
Finding a Federal Drug Crime Lawyer in Palm Beach County
Federal charges always should be taken seriously, no matter the type of offense. If you are charged with a crime, contact a federal drug offense attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. We have the knowledge and the passion necessary to defend you against these serious criminal accusations. Call (561) 557-8686 to schedule a free case evaluation.