While Ohio law enforcement authorities have enforcement responsibility for many of the crimes that occur within our state, our justice system is also overseen by the federal government. And while there has been much discussion about the decriminalization of marijuana at the state level, the possession, distribution, or production of marijuana and many other drugs, including meth, cocaine, LSD, and heroin, can result in federal drug crimes and charges.
State and federal agencies will sometimes work together to determine whether a person accused of drug-related crime should be charged either at the state or federal level, and the penalties for violating federal drug laws are often far more serious than state penalties. If you have been charged with federal crimes related to possession, distribution, or trafficking of drugs, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side. Many convictions for violating federal drug laws carry a mandatory sentence and jail time is often longer. And, if it is not your first drug or drug trafficking offense, the penalties – should you be convicted – can often be dire.
Federal Drug Charges
The most common reason someone is indicted on a federal drug charge, rather than at the state level, is because large amounts of drugs were involved and those drugs were transported from other states and/or countries to Ohio. So, you can still be charged at the federal level without ever stepping foot outside Ohio.
Types of Federal Drug Charges
If you are charged by the federal government on drug-related crimes, the charges are similar to those types of charges you would face at the state level:
- Drug possession
- Drug trafficking
- Drug manufacturing
- Conspiracy to commit drug trafficking or manufacturing
Penalties for Federal Drug Crime Convictions
If you are convicted of a federal drug crime, your sentence will likely depend on the amount of drugs you were convicted of and your criminal history. Other factors that can increase your sentence are whether anyone died as a result of your actions, whether you were in possession of a weapon, and whether you have any previous similar convictions. The manufacture, possession and/or trafficking of drugs in large quantities (more than a kilo of cocaine, more than 10 grams of LSD, more than 50 grams of meth, or more than 1,000 kilos of marijuana) result in a minimum 10-year sentence, up to life in prison. Crimes related to smaller drug amounts may still carry minimum sentences of five years up to 40 years. Any drug crime resulting in death or injury to others can result in a 20-year-minimum sentence. Fines can also be in the millions of dollars.
What to Do If You Are Arrested for Federal Drug Crimes
Prior to your preliminary hearing, you should retain an experienced criminal attorney. You will be in custody until the preliminary hearing. The federal government only has to prove probable cause at the preliminary hearing, so your case is unlikely to be dismissed at this point, but your best bet for being released until the case is heard is by having an attorney who can argue for your ability to post bail until you go to court. Your attorney can help you:
- Demonstrate ties to the community
- Provide character witnesses
- Minimize the severity of the charges
- Assure the judge you have a place to stay
- Assure the judge you are able to stay away from criminal influence
If you have been charged with any kind of federal drug charge, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who is experienced with federal law. The procedure, rules of evidence, and investigation periods all differ from state law, so an experienced federal criminal defense attorney is essential. For more information and a free consultation, please contact Jeff Hastings, experienced Criminal Defense Attorney.