Federal Drug Charges

In 1982 Nancy Reagan coined the term “Just Say No” and launched the modern iteration of the war on drugs.  Since then hundreds of thousands of people have been incarcerated for drug offenses.

In fact, over 53 percent of prisoners in federal institutions are drug offenders according to the Bureau of Justice statistics. If you have been arrested on a federal drug charge you need to find an attorney as soon as possible.

Lawyer for Federal Drug Charge Defense in West Palm Beach, FL

Do you think that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for federal drug charges in the greater Palm Beach County area? Do not say anything to authorities until you can contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A..

West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell defend clients accused of drug crimes in communities all over Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, and Broward County, including Greenacres, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, and many others. Call (561) 557-8686 right now to have our lawyers review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.


Palm Beach County Federal Drug Charge Information Center


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Controlled Substances Act

The majority of Federal Drug prosecutions come from the manufacture, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture a controlled substance. The Controlled Substances Act establishes schedules for types of drugs and corresponding punishments based on the schedule of the drug. Below are the Federal government’s drug schedules and examples of common drugs that fall under each.

  • Schedule I – A drug or other substance that has a high potential for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment intheUnitedstates.
    • Examples – heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote.
  • Schedule II – A drug or other substance with a high potential for abuse that has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States but potentially could lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
    • Examples – Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.
  • ScheduleIII – A drug or other substance with a potential for abuse lower than the drugs in schedules I and II. The drug has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States but abuse of the drug may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
    • Examples – Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit, ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone
  • Schedule IV – The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III and a low risk of dependence. The drug has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    • Examples – Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, Tramadol
  • Schedule V – The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV and a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV. The drug has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    • Examples – Cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters, Robitussin AC, Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parapectolin.

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Federal Drug Trafficking Penalties

The penalties for federal a drug offense varies based on the type of drug, the quantity of the drug, and the intended usage of the drug by the offender.  Simple possession for personal use of a controlled substance is the most minimum penalty with a fine up to $1,000 and up to a year in prison. The fines and penalties increase significantly for trafficking drugs. Below is a chart of minimum penalties for common drug trafficking offenses.

 

Unlawful distribution, possession with intent to distribute, importation and exportation, etc

First Offense

Substance

Amount

Fine

Imprisonment

Heroin

 

 

 

 

1 kg or more

 

     $10/50 million

 

10 years to life

 

 

100 to 999 grams

 

     $5/25 million

 

5 – 40 years

 

 

Less than 100 grams

 

     $1/5 million

 

Up to 20 years

 

Cocaine/Crack

 

 

 

 

280 grams or more

 

     $10/50 million

 

10 years to life

 

 

28-279 grams

 

     $5/25 million

 

5 – 40 years

 

 

Less than 28 grams

 

     $1/5 million

 

Up to 20 years

 

Marijuana

 

 

 

 

1000 kg or more or 1000 or more plants

     $10/50 million

10 years to life

 

100 to 999 kg or 100-999 plants

     $5/25 million

5 – 40 years

 

50 to 99 kg or 50-99 plants

     $1/5 million

Up to 20 years

 

Under 50 kg, 10 kg of hashish, 1 kg of hashish oil, or 1 to 48 plants

     $250,000 - $1 million

Up to 5 years

Methamphetamine

 

 

 

 

50 grams or more or 500 grams or more of a mixture

     $10/50 million

10 years to life

 

5 to 49 grams or 50 to 499 grams of a mixture

     $5/25 million

5 – 40 years

 

Less than 5 grams or less than 50 grams of a mixture

     $1/5 million

Up to 20 years


Note that the variance in penalties is based on the amount of the specific controlled substance. For instance distribution of 1 kilogram of heroin would be equivalent to distribution of 1000 kilograms marijuana.

The table above is based on a first offense. For a second offense the fines would increase to $20/75 million; $8/50 million; $2/10 million and in the case of marijuana $500,000/$2 million in order of descending amounts of controlled substance. Likewise, the prison terms would increase to 20 years to life; 10 years to life; up to 30 years; and up to 10 years. For a third offense of a Schedule I or II substance that has been singled out for special penalties, the fines are the same as for a second offense but the prison sentence is a life sentence.


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Federal Drug Manufacturing Penalties

Manufacturing controlled substances also carries very harsh penalties. The severity of the penalties can vary based on certain factors such as proximity to schools, age of employees, and use of firearms among other factors. Below is a list of some manufacturing related crimes and the associated penalties.

  • Establishing manufacturing operations
    • Up to $500,000 fine and up to 20 year prison term.
    • Manufacturing includes opening, maintaining, financing or making available a place for unlawful manufacture, distribution or use of controlled substances.
  • Distribution or manufacturing in or near schools, colleges, or certain youth-centered recreational facilities
    • Twice the penalty for distribution or manufacture with a minimum of 1 year in prison.
    • Triple the penalty for a second offense with a minimum of 3 years in prison.
    • Up to 20 years in prison in addition to the penalties above if the drug in question is methamphetamine.
    • A drug offender is considered “near” a school if they are within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, or housing facility. They are considered near a youth-centered recreational facility if they are within 100 feet of a youth center, public swimming pool, or video arcade.
  • Continuing Criminal Enterprise
    • A person is considered to be engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise if
      1. he commits any felony violation of the Controlled Substances Act or the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act,
      2. the violation is a part of a continuing series of violations of those statutes
        1. which are undertaken by the person in concert with five or more other persons with respect to whom such person occupies a position of organizer, a supervisory position, or any other position of management, and
        2. from which such person obtains substantial income or resources.
  • First offense - Up to $2 million fine and 20 years to life in prison.
  • Second offense – Up to $4 million fine and 30 years to life in prison.
  • In any offense, if the offender is a major participant in an enterprise that grosses $10 million a year or more or involving 300 times the amount of controlled substances required to trigger the most severe distribution penalties; the fine is $4 million and a life sentence.

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Palm Beach County Felony Drug Charge Resources

Federal Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Statute | U.S.C. Chapter 13 – The link here will take you to the entire federal law on drug prevention. The statute is very extensive and the discussion above mostly only covers parts of Subchapter I, Part D. For the entire controlled substances schedule, see 21 U.S.C. § 812.

Drug Offenses: Maximum Fines and Terms of Imprisonment | Congressional Research Service – Digging through U.S.C. Chapter 13 can be rather laborious. This link gives handy charts and summaries for fines and penalties for controlled substances offenses. Of note is the fact that in the charts in the provided link, common drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine have separate penalties from the other drugs in their respective schedules. So for instance marijuana, which is a schedule I drug, has a 10 year to life sentence for trafficking 1000 kilograms or more, while any other Schedule I or II drug that has not been singled out has a maximum prison sentence of 30 years regardless of weight.


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Find a Federal Drug Charge Attorney in West Palm Beach, FL

Are you under investigation or have already been arrested for Federal Drug Charges in the Palm Beach County? You will want to contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. as soon as possible.

Our West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers represent individuals in communities throughout Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County, including Wellington, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Boca Raton, and several others. Call (561) 557-8686 or submit an online contact form to have our attorneys review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free initial consultation.


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