Being convicted of a federal drug offense can carry hefty fines and lengthy prison terms. Even after someone serves their time, having a drug offense on their criminal record can have lasting negative effects.
Luckily for those that have no prior convictions and only committed minor infractions, there is an option to minimize his or her sentence and have a clear record. The Federal First Time Offenders Act (FFOA) is a statutory option for a first time drug offender trying to avoid prison and if you are such a person it is highly advised you seek legal counsel immediately.
If you have never committed a crime but have been arrested for a federal drug charge, you may feel scared and lost. It is in your best interest that you seek out an experienced defense attorney. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. defends clients arrested for federal drug charges in Royal Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres, Lake Worth, and many other surrounding areas of Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County.
Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense attorneys in West Palm Beach who will do their best to have a court show leniency towards you and possibly have you avoid jail time. You can have our lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (561) 557-8686 to set up a free, confidential consultation.
Federal First Time Offender Act Information Center
There is no denying that federal drug penalties can be rather harsh. The law recognizes that leniency should be shown in some cases and offers special diversion programs for some first time offenders. To qualify for the leniency provided by the FFOA a person must:
If a person meets the above criteria, the court, with consent of the person, may place him or her on probation for not more than a year without entering a judgment of conviction. The court may at any time before the expiration of the term of probation or at completion of the term of probation, may dismiss the proceedings against the person, and discharge him or her from probation, as long as the person did not violate their probation.
Besides allowing for a first time offender to have their sentence reduced to probation rather than serve jail time, the FFOA also allows for an expungement of the crime from the offender’s criminal record in some instances. First, those that successfully complete their probation without violation may have their case dismissed without having a judgment of conviction entered against them.
Second, if that person was under 21 years of age at the time the crime was committed and applies for having his or her record expunged, the FFOA dictates that the court must grant an expungement order. What this means is that all official records including references to the arrest, the institution of criminal proceedings against him or her, and the results of those proceedings will be removed. Effectively, the person will be restored to their status before the arrest. Furthermore, the person will have no legal obligation to acknowledge the arrest. So for instance if the person is asked in court or during a police investigation whether he or she has been arrested previously and the person answers in the negative, that person cannot be found guilty of perjury, false swearing, or making a false statement.
There is one record that will remain regardless. The Department of Justice will retain a nonpublic record of the disposition of the first time offender’s case. This record will be maintained only to make sure that a person who has already reaped the benefits of the FFOA does not get to reap the benefits a second time by claiming their second offense was their first.
Simple Possession | 21 U.S.C. § 844 – The FFOA only applies for people charged with simple possession of a controlled substance. The link will show you to the full text of the federal statute on simple possession. The statute gives specific terms for a violation based on the purchases of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine. The statute also gives minimum and maximum penalties for offenders.
Special Probation and Expungement Procedures for Drug Possessors | 18 U.S.C. § 3607 – The FFOA was codified in the United States Code as 18 U.S.C. § 3607. The full text can be found at the link provided.
Have you been a law abiding citizen all your life but have been arrested for simple possession of a controlled substance? 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.