Since the 1980s, the federal government has waged a “war on drugs,” and as a result, the federal government has virtually unlimited resources when it comes to investigating a vast array of drug possession and trafficking charges. The federal government has the manpower and ability to investigate your activities for years - wiretapping phones and recording conversations, obtaining text messages, tweets, instagrams, and other social media records, and using confidential informants to infiltrate drug activities – all before it seeks to charge you with a criminal offense.
Also, in recent years, the federal government has begun to prosecute doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other medical professionals as drug dealers for either over-prescribing controlled substances or prescribing medically unnecessary controlled substances. Some investigations focus on the medical practitioner and others on either an employee or patients. When you find yourself on the radar of federal agents, you need a seasoned legal team proven in defending federal drug allegations.
Why hire the Stracci Law Group?
Attorneys at the Stracci Law Group have represented people from all walks of life – from medical professionals to drug dealers and mules to everyday people who have been accused of possessing, selling, manufacturing, importing, dispensing, and delivering all types of controlled substances, including prescription drugs, Heroin, Methamphetamine, Crack and Powder Cocaine, Hash and Marijuana, Ecstasy, Steroids, and Synthetic Drugs.
When you hire the Stracci Law Group, you get an entire team of experienced federal criminal defense attorneys with a long history of defending federal drug charges who play a leading role in federal criminal defense advocacy. Members of our team have served on various federal court committees, been involved in the selection of federal judges and magistrates, and have been elected to leadership positions on our district’s Federal Community Defender Board.
What are Federal Drug Crimes?
The federal government prosecutes drug offenses under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA is similar to state drug laws in that it criminalizes the illegal possession, manufacture, importation, dispensing, and distribution of a variety of controlled substances.
Under the CSA, federally regulated substances are assigned to one of five “schedules” based on the drug’s medical use, the potential for abuse, and the likelihood of causing dependence. It is important for you to know both your drug’s schedule and the amount of the drug the government attributes to you because both are used to determine what federal criminal drug penalties you face. Current CSA schedules include:
Schedule I: those with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, for example: Heroin, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Marijuana (Cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)(Ecstasy), Methaqualone, and Peyote.
Schedule II: those with high potential for abuse leading to severe psychological or physical dependence, for example: Cocaine, Morphine, Opium, Codeine, Methamphetamine (Desoxyn ), Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Hydromorphone (Dilaudid), Methadone (Dolophine), Meperidine (Demerol), Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), Fentanyl (Sublimaze, Duragesic), Amphetamine (Dexedrine, Adderall), and Methylphenidate (Ritalin).
Schedule III: those with moderate to low potential for physical dependence and a high potential for psychological dependence, for example: Ketamine, Benzphetamine (Didrex), Anabolic Steroids (Depo-Testosterone), and products with less than 90 mg. of Codeine per dose (Tylenol with Codeine).
Schedule IV: those with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence, for example: Aprazolam (Xanax), Carisoprodol (Soma), Clonazepam (Klonopin), Diazepam (Valium), Lorazepam (Ativan), Triazolam (Halcion), Darvon, Darvocet, Talwin, Ambien, and Tramadol.
Schedule V: those with lower potential for abuse and limited quantities of certain narcotics, for example: cough preparations with less than 200 mg. of Codeine or per 100 ml. (Robitussin AC, Phenergan with Codeine), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin.
Federal agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA), which provides assistance to local police agencies in critical drug-trafficking areas and their local counterparts, seem to focus on investigating and prosecuting large-scale drug trafficking crimes and drug crimes related to gang, firearm, or violent offenses. They typically leave smaller drug possession and distribution offenses to state court prosecutors.
What types of Federal Drug Crimes does the Stracci Law Group defend?
- Doctors, Pharmacists, Medical Professionals: For several years now, the federal government has been eager to indict and convict doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other medical professionals on drug distribution charges frequently targeting pain management practices, alleging that these clinics are actually “pill mills” as they have come to be known. As a result, federal agents focus a vast amount of time and resources on examining the manner in which doctors and prescribing nurses write their prescriptions. If you are a medical professional and are currently under investigation for your controlled substance prescriptions, or even those written by another member of your practice, contact the Stracci Law Group immediately.
- Possession of a Controlled Substance (Heroin, Crack, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, LSD, Marijuana, Ecstasy, Steroids, Prescription, and Synthetic Drugs): If you have been charged with drug possession, the government is alleging you owned or in some way possessed a controlled substance without a valid prescription. Depending on certain circumstances, like the drug amount, the way it is packaged, or any other indication of intent to distribute or sell, the government may upgrade your charges to possession with intent to distribute (also frequently referred to as “dealing.” Distribution and dealing charges are much more complex cases with greater possible penalties.
- Possession with Intent to Distribute, Deal, Manufacture a Controlled Substance (Heroin, Crack, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, LSD, Marijuana, Ecstasy, Steroids, Prescription, and Synthetic Drugs): If you have been charged with possession with intent to distribute, deal, or manufacture drugs, the government is alleging you made, owned, or in some way possessed a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, sell, barter, deliver, or even give that drug away for free to another.
- Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime: Under 18 U.S.C. §924(c), anyone convicted of possessing, brandishing, or discharging a firearm in the course of a drug trafficking crime faces a mandatory minimum sentence. This charge may even apply to legally purchased and registered firearms found in your home, even if the firearms were not present or used during the actual offense.
- Drug Conspiracies: Many federal drug cases are charged as conspiracies, meaning you, and at least one other person agreed to work together to possess, make, distribute, sell, import, otherwise dispense drugs, the members of the agreement were aware of and intended to participate in the agreement, and at least one action was taken to go forward with the agreement.
When the government charges a drug conspiracy, it casts a wide net in an effort to bring as many defendants as possible into the conspiracy. Remember, federal drug sentences are based on drug type and drug weight. When it alleges conspiracy, the government has the ability to attribute the drug weight of the entire group to each defendant, individually. For instance, if you are charged with a conspiracy for the group to obtain 20 kilos of cocaine with the intent to split it up and deal it to others, even if you only received 1 of the total 20 kilos, under federal law, you could still be sentenced for the whole 20 kilos. The government uses every opportunity it has to charge drug conspiracies - the higher the drug weight, the higher the sentence.
- RICO Conspiracies: The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act provides enhanced criminal penalties for those who engage in organized crime. Although intended to combat crime syndicates (the Mafia), federal prosecutors now use RICO to investigate and indict members of other organized groups, like street gangs, who distribute, deal, or manufacture drugs. RICO charges cannot be brought against organized participation in just any criminal activity. In order to prosecute you or your associates under RICO, the federal government must show members of a criminal enterprise engaged in a pattern of racketeering that had an effect on interstate commerce.
- Criminal Enterprise: Any group with an organizational structure with one or more decision-makers whose members work together over time. The enterprise can have either an illegal or a legal purpose.
- Pattern of Racketeering: The members of the criminal enterprise must have engaged in an ongoing scheme of criminal activity; thus at least two predicate crimes (for instance, drug trafficking, money laundering, robbery, kidnapping, extortion, murder, or bribery) must have been committed by members.
- Effect on Interstate Commerce: Anything that has any effect on commerce between different states; however virtually any economic activity meets this standard.
Am I facing prison time?
While state penalties for possessing or dealing drugs may seem severe, they often pale in comparison with the penalties imposed for violating federal drug laws. Depending on the facts of your case, a federal drug conviction may expose you to a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 5 or 10 years in prison all the way up to a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Your possible sentence is further complicated by the Federal Drug Sentencing Guidelines, used by all federal courts to recommend what sentence the judge should impose. The Guidelines base drug sentences on drug type and drug weight. Thus, the more drugs the government and federal agents attribute to you, the higher your Guideline recommended sentence will be.
It used to be that federal judges were required to impose whatever sentence was dictated by the guidelines. That is no longer true. Nowadays, judges are allowed to consider a myriad of other factors and impose a sentence tailored to your individual history and characteristics. For that reason alone, you need a team of attorneys also known for federal sentencing advocacy. The Stracci Law Group prides itself on its ability to not only provide an excellent defense but also on its federal sentencing advocacy. We will work hard to develop and present your judge with reasons why he or she should be lenient in your sentence, should that become necessary.
Schedule a Free Consultation about your Federal Controlled Substance Investigation or Case!
We want you to be confident that we are the best choice for you, and thus, the Stracci Law Group offers free, comprehensive, and confidential consultations. Call (219) 525-1000 today to schedule a time to meet with us, personally discuss your situation, and learn more about our services, knowledge, and federal courtroom experience.