If you have been charged with possessing or selling drugs, you need an attorney who can help you fight the charges in court. Federal laws regarding drug possession and distribution are harsh. However, there are defenses that may help reduce penalties or invalidate charges.
Penalties For Selling Or Possessing Drugs
The federal Controlled Substances Act classifies different street drugs and prescription medications in schedules. For example, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I substance while cocaine is listed a Schedule II substance. Prescription drugs that are anabolic steroids are considered Schedule III substances. When a person sells or possess a drug, the penalties depend on the classification of the drug and the amount of the substance.
According to the Congressional Research Service, there are maximum fines and prison sentences for violations of the Controlled Substances Act and other federal drug laws. The guidelines are grouped by weight and substance. For example, a person who is caught with under 100 grams of heroin may be fined between $1 million and $5 million and may face up to 20 years in prison. If the amount of heroin is between 100 and 999 grams, the fine range is between $5 million and $25 million with a maximum prison sentence of up to 40 years. For a kilogram or more of heroin, the fine range is between $10 million and $50 million, and incarceration may be between 10 years and life in prison. For PCP, there are similar penalties but for smaller amounts.
Why You Need A Good Attorney
In many cases, the police or government agencies that seize drugs do so improperly. If your charges are based on possession or possession with intent to distribute, the most common defense is improper search and seizure. There are laws regarding search and seizure with specific procedures, rules and steps that government officials must follow. Strict rules exist for local, state and federal officials. When officials overstep these rules, a good criminal defense attorney can usually pinpoint the violation. If the attorney is successful in doing this, the drugs that are considered evidence in the case are not admissible in court. There are also other strategies for defending a drug case. In some instances, the drugs may have been planted by another party, and there are some cases that involve a person being framed. In instances where a person is clearly guilty, a good criminal defense attorney can negotiate a plea bargain for a reduced fine or a shorter prison sentence. For first-time offenders, diversion programs are also available in many states.
If you were charged with selling or possessing drugs, it is better to hire a private attorney. Although a public defender may be appointed to represent you, his or her case load is always large. Public defenders do not have the same incentive or time that private attorneys have to put forth their best effort. Since a private attorney has a reputation to uphold, you have the assurance that your criminal defense lawyer will work hard to protect your future and to seek the most favorable outcome for your case.