New York City Criminal Defense Lawyer
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Drug crimes of various severity occur ceaselessly throughout New York City, and many individuals find themselves confronting prosecution for these crimes every year. Even if a drug is a legally prescribed pharmaceutical, it can be considered an illegal substance if not used appropriately or by the individual named on the prescription. Facing drug charges is intimidating, especially if you face a conviction for federal drug crimes. Federal laws concerning drugs are different from state laws, featuring more complicated processes and the potential for harsher penalties, including lengthy prison sentences.
If you are suspected of committing a federal drug crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney with the knowledge and skills to settle this complex case. A public defender only has limited time and resources to spend and often handles several cases at once, meaning you will likely receive the minimum amount of representation and could face maximum consequences. At Tsigler Law, we can guide you through every step of the process and help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Factors Involved in Federal Drug Crimes
To understand federal drug crimes, you must first learn how the government classifies drugs, referred to as controlled substances. The federal government has the authority to prosecute crimes involving anything that has been labeled a controlled substance. Controlled substances are categorized into schedules, which comprise a ranking of drugs based on their ability to create harm. When determining which schedule to place a drug, this classification takes into account medical use, potential for abuse, and addictive characteristics.
Schedule I controlled substances are those with no recognized medical use and the highest potential for abuse, such as heroin or LSD. These are the most dangerous substances. Therefore, these crimes include the highest penalties. Schedules II through V are considered to have limited recognized medical use, including cocaine, morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and benzodiazepines. Schedule V is the least harmful type of controlled substance and consists of over the counter medications featuring codeine.
Remember that the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, although several states have decriminalized or legalized its possession or use, whether for medical or recreational purposes. This can result in being charged for federal drug crimes even if marijuana consumption is legal in your state.
Types of Federal Drug Crimes
When a person is found to be in possession of drugs, they can incur state charges, federal charges, or a combination of both. Each state has its own set of laws regarding drug use, but in some cases, more serious charges will advance to the federal level. These charges depend on the type of drug, the amount, the location of the offense, and the criminal history of the defendant. The decision to pursue federal charges is typically made by the prosecutors. The most common federal drug crimes are listed below.
When you illegally hold a controlled substance on your person or within your property, this is considered possession. Compared to more significant drug crimes, possession may not seem very serious. However, even if you did not manufacture or distribute the drugs, you can still be penalized for possession. If so, this crime will become part of your criminal record. Possession charges are established based on the type of drug being held and the amount of the drug. The more dangerous the drug is, the more severe the penalties are. Being found in possession of a Schedule I drug will result in harsher punishment than a Schedule IV drug.
Possession can also be accompanied by other drug charges based on the type of drug and the amount. If you are in possession of an amount of a drug deemed to be in excess of what is expected for personal use, law enforcement officers can charge you with possession of drugs with “the intent to distribute” them to others. In terms of severity, this charge falls between simple possession and distribution, meaning the penalties will be higher than those for possession but not as high as the penalties incurred for distribution. The charge of possession with intent to distribute tends to be subjective – the ways the drugs are packaged influence the officer’s perspective on this, such as if they are separated into individual bags rather than in one bag or if they are accompanied by other paraphernalia that would be used in distribution, such as scales.
Distribution of drugs, or drug dealing, is the exchange, sale, trade, or transport of illegal drugs from one party to another. Compared to possession, distribution charges involve a larger quantity of drugs, usually an ounce or more. If cash is found by law enforcement officers along with the drugs, this indicates that an exchange was made or that one person was in the process of purchasing the drugs from another. When someone possesses an illegal drug with the intention of exchange or sale to individuals or groups of buyers, the charge becomes much more serious and the penalties increase significantly. The sentencing is primarily based on the type of drug involved, with worse penalties for more severe drugs.
Manufacturing is defined as growing or otherwise producing controlled substances that have been deemed illegal by the federal government. This includes possessing the facilities and equipment designed to grow or produce drugs as well as transporting any chemicals involved in the growing or production of drugs. If you are charged with drug manufacturing, the severity of the penalty is based on the type of drug being grown or produced and the amount of this drug, with more dangerous drugs and higher amounts equating to harsher penalties. Repeat offenders will be penalized to a higher degree than first-time offenders.
The manufacture, transportation, and distribution of an illegal drug are considered drug trafficking. The illegal drug industry operates due to the efforts of drug traffickers across the country, so law enforcement officers view trafficking as an exceptionally severe crime. Suspected traffickers are pursued aggressively and typically receive maximum sentences for their participation in the illegal drug trade. Even if you are convicted of a first-time trafficking offense, you face years of imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines.
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Tsigler Law Can Handle Your Federal Drug Charges
Federal drug charges are serious, and they require serious legal representation. The expert team of criminal defense attorneys from Tsigler Law will answer any of your questions, discuss your options and potential repercussions, and thoroughly investigate every aspect of your case. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling (718) 878-3781 or contacting us online.