Federal drug crimes have become a major source of litigation over the last few decades due to the rising prevalence of drug use throughout the country. Drug offenses rise to the level of a federal offense in certain specific circumstances, such as the transport of drugs across state or international borders. Federal drug offenses will often lead to higher penalty and punishment ranges than similar State charges. There are other differences as well, such as the relatively quicker track to trial or plea in federal courts. If you have been arrested on suspicion of a federal drug crime, keep in mind that an arrest is not yet a conviction. However, it is important that you treat the federal drug crime as a serious arrest that could lead to very serious punishment. To better understand your rights, you will need the assistance of experienced federal drug crime defense attorneys in Houston.
Federal drug charges are often brought by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or the FBI. The DEA divides the major drug substances into different categories (referred to as “Schedules”), and each category has its own punishment range. The schedules are as follows:
|I||Marijuana, Heroin, LSD|
|V||Cough syrup containing codeine|
The federal Schedules are similar to the Texas “Penalty Groups,” although the punishment ranges are more severe for federal offenses. Common federal offenses involve large amounts of Schedule I or Schedule II substances. While marijuana is included in Schedule I, it is often lumped into its own penalty table in terms of quantity. A skilled Houston federal drug crime defense lawyer can better assist you in understanding the different schedules which may fall within aggravated assault and assault.
Federal drug crimes are handled much differently than state drug crimes. Federal prosecutors often have more resources than state county prosecutors, and the judges before which these cases are brought have lifetime appointments. State judges are elected to their position and often have exceptionally crowded dockets, with a corresponding goal to move as many as possible without going to trial.
Federal law dictates the penalties per amount of substance with mandatory minimums and the (now) advisory Sentencing Guidelines. Even though federal law has separated many drugs into different “Schedules,” the penalty calculus can be daunting for a novice. Federal law differentiates into drug crimes into various “tiers.” For example, Tier One, first offenses have a punishment range of 5-40 years in prison, while second offenses have a range of 10 years – life in prison. Tier Two offenses automatically have a maximum punishment range up to life in prison for the first offense. Other substances are further distinguished into individual punishment ranges, such as marijuana, with a maximum of life in prison.
Another major difference between federal and state penalties is the amount of fines for federal offenses. Texas law caps all felony fines at $10,000. However, federal drug crimes can include a penalty of up to $20 million. An experienced Houston federal drug crime defense attorney will be able to carefully examine the facts of your case and determine the best defense route to take.
If you have been arrested on federal drug crime charges, do not hesitate to contact Mary E. Conn Law. Mary E. Conn has years of experience in handling federal drug crime cases and understands the dichotomy between state and federal drug crimes. She will work tirelessly to defend your claim as a Houston federal drug crime lawyer and will ensure that any unconstitutional methods relating to your arrest are properly raised during pretrial and trial proceedings. Contact us at our Houston office (713) 357-4190 on for your initial free consultation today.