Federal Drug Conspiracy
A criminal drug conspiracy charge is a complex and serious charge that an have devastating consequences for the accused. A criminal conspiracy is defined as an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. Generally, anyone who conspires to commit any drug-related crime will be punished as though he had actually committed the crime.
In establishing a drug conspiracy, the government must prove three elements. First, the government must prove that there was an agreement to violate a drug law. Second, it must be shown that each alleged conspirator knew of the agreement and intended to join the conspiracy. Third, there must have been at least one act in furtherance of the intended conspiracy. Circumstantial evidence may be enough to prove each of these elements.
Federal law makes it illegal to knowingly or intentionally manufacture, create, or distribute controlled substances. It is also illegal to possess these substances with the intent to distribute them. The penalties depend largely on the amount of the drugs that were seized. Generally, a drug conviction of one or more kilograms of heroin, 5 or more kilograms of cocaine, 10 or more grams of LSD, 1,000 or more kilograms of marijuana, or 50 or more grams of methamphetamine will result in a sentence of 10 years to life. If death or serious bodily injury occurs, a conviction can mean 20 years to life and a fine of up to $4,000,000 for an individual. Penalties generally double for those with a prior felony drug conviction.
Smaller amounts of drugs carry a less severe sentence. A conviction involving 100 or more grams of heroin, 500 or more grams of cocaine, 1 or more grams of LSD, 100 or more kilograms of marijuana, or 5 or more grams of methamphetamine will result in a sentence of 5 to 40 years. If death or serious bodily injury occurs, a conviction will result in a sentence of 20 years to life with a possible $2,000,000 fine. A prior felony drug conviction will generally increase the sentence. It is not necessary for the defendant to have known what type of drug he possessed. The government only needs to show that the defendant knew it was a controlled substance.
Federal law also prohibits having a place where drugs are made or kept. Specifically, it is illegal for a person to knowingly open, lease, rent, use, or maintain any place for manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance. A conviction under this law will result in a sentence up to 20 years and a fine of up to $500,000.
A conviction under these drug laws could also result in the forfeiture of property. Any property making up proceeds or derived from proceeds of drug-related crimes will be forfeited. In addition, any property which was used or intended to be used to commit or facilitate such a crime will be forfeited. A person convicted of engaging in a criminal enterprise will also forfeit any interest or rights in the continuing criminal enterprise. Property generally includes land, personal property, privileges, interests, and securities. It should be noted that there are legal steps that can be taken in an attempt to prevent forfeiture.
Defending Federal Drug Conspiracy Charges
In defending allegations of conspiracy or other federal drug crimes, a defense attorney has many options. First, the government must prove every element of the crime as charged. There can be no conviction if the government cannot prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt. For instance, conspiracy requires that the defendant voluntarily participate in the alleged conspiracy. If the government fails to show that the defendant participated, there can be no conviction.
Another line of defense in most drug cases is to determine whether the search and seizure that led to the discovery of drugs or currency was legal. If evidence was discovered in a vehicle, the attorney will have to determine if the officer who stopped the vehicle had cause to do so. It will also have to be determined if the officer had cause to search the vehicle, or if voluntary consent was given by the accused. If drugs were discovered in a home, an attorney will have to verify that the search was based upon a valid search warrant or other probable cause or consent. If the police violated a person’s rights, a judge may be required to suppress any evidence that was seized.
Many other potential defenses are available to a person accused of a drug conspiracy or a substantive federal drug crime. If you have been charged with a federal drug crime such as conspiracy, you need the assistance of an experienced federal criminal lawyer who will fight for you and defend your legal rights. For many years, our firm has successfully represented clients charged with federal drug conspiracy and related offenses. We have won achieved successful results in court and have kept other clients from being indicted.
As with any important legal question, you should always consult a lawyer experienced in federal criminal defense and licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Our lawyers are licensed to practice in all federal and state courts in Minnesota and Washington, D.C., and have been admitted pro hac vice in many other federal district courts across the country.
If you have been charged or are under investigation for a federal drug conspiracy charge, contact the legal team at Kassius Benson Law, P.A. at (612) 333-2755 or (202) 744-2544.