If you have been charged with a federal drug crime, you will need all the help you can get. Unlike Pennsylvania state courts, judges in the federal system are often required to impose severe mandatory minimum sentences for major drug offenses.
If you are facing federal drug crimes charges in the Pennsylvania area, call Brian Manchester, an experienced federal drug crimes defense attorney in Pennsylvania. Call today. It is important to start working on your defense right away.
Federal Drug Crimes: Controlled Substances and Possession in Pennsylvania
The federal government classifies dangerous and addictive drugs into five “schedules” of controlled substances. State drug laws are also based on these classifications. The most tightly restricted drugs are considered highly dangerous and addictive and have few or no medical uses; they include heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Lesser schedules contain less dangerous drugs with more widespread uses, such as Vicodin and codeine medications. Under federal law, it is a crime to possess any amount of any controlled substance without a valid prescription or license. Penalties include as much as one year in jail for a first-time drug offender, although probation is possible. But minimum sentences kick in on a second offense, when a term of between 15 days and two years is mandatory; on a third offense, the minimum sentence increases to between 90 days and three years. State drug convictions count as prior offenses. Any possession of Rohypnol is punishable by as many as three years in prison. But generally speaking, federal prosecutors don’t bother with simple possession cases, leaving those charges to the states.
Federal Drug Crimes: Trafficking in Pennsylvania
Manufacturing a controlled substance, distributing it or possessing it with intent to distribute it is a serious federal crime and in most cases comes with major prison time. Unlike simple possession charges, federal prosecutors make trafficking cases a high priority. There are often stiff mandatory minimum sentences, though these vary depending on the drug, its amount, and an offender’s criminal record. For a first offense, a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 40 applies to the manufacture, distribution or possession of between 100 and 999 grams of heroin, 500 and 4,999 grams of powdered cocaine, 28 and 279 grams of crack cocaine, 10 and 99 grams of PCP, one and 9 grams of LSD, 100 and 999 kilograms of marijuana, 100 and 999 marijuana plants, or five and 49 grams of methamphetamine. Punishment for greater amounts of these drugs include a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life for a first offense. Manufacture, distribution or possession with intent of between 50 and 99 kilograms of marijuana carries a penalty of as many as 20 years but no minimum sentence, while the same crime involving fewer than 50 kilograms of marijuana is a lesser offense, punishable by no more than five years on a first conviction. Trafficking in drugs that are lower on the government’s list of controlled substances generally comes with lighter sentences, with exceptions for the date-rape drugs GHB and Rohypnol.
Federal Drug Crimes: Smuggling in Pennsylvania
It is also a federal crime to smuggle illegal drugs into the United States or to manufacture or distribute them with the intent that they be smuggled into the country. Sentencing for smuggling is applied in the same way it is for trafficking, with the same drug amounts carrying the same minimum and maximum sentences. For both smuggling and trafficking crimes, minimum and maximum sentences increase substantially where defendants have prior drug records and where death or violence results from the trafficking or smuggling.
If you or a loved one are in the Pennsylvania area and have been charged with federal drug crimes, call Brian Manchester, an experienced federal drug crimes defense lawyer in Pennsylvania. He can help you build the defense you need today.