Federal Drug Possession Attorney

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When you face a drug charge, you may be confused over what makes it a federal crime and not a state crime. You may also wonder what the classifications of drugs mean and how that can affect the outcome of your case. There are many aspects you should understand when facing such charges so that you can go to court prepared.

Phone: (202) 430-1900

Fax: (202) 430-1900

Office Location: 1101 17th Street NW Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20036

Hours: Monday - Friday | 8am - 5pm

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Federal Drug Crime Defense Attorney in DC

The possession of illegal drugs is both a state and a federal crime. If an individual is caught in possession of illegal drugs and is arrested, they would likely face drug possession charges. In many cases, individuals charged for the possession of controlled substances were arrested by local law enforcement and are therefore charged by the state.

Because drug possession is both a state and a federal offense, individuals can be charged with either state or federal charges. While many state drug possession cases may be charged as a misdemeanor, all federal drug charges are felonies. Individuals convicted of federal drug crimes would likely face a serious mandatory minimum sentence, with no chance of parole. Federal drug possession convictions carry serious penalties and prison sentencing, even if the individual was caught with relatively small amounts of the illegal substance.

Federal Drug Possession Charges

Individuals can be charged with federal drug possession charges if they were arrested for one of the following:

  • Simple possession: An individual could be charged with simple possession if caught with illegal drugs or prescription medications without a valid prescription, in amounts significant for personal consumption or sale. Simple possession usually involves possession of smaller amounts of drugs intended for personal use or sale only. Simple possession can be proven if you are caught with controlled substances on your person, such as having illegal drugs in your pocket or glove compartment.
  • Constructive possession: Individuals can be charged with constructive possession even if the drugs were not found on their person but were found in an area under their control, such as in a home, office, locker, or vehicle. This is often the theory when people are pulled over and charged for drugs found in their cars.
  • Possession with intent to distribute: If an individual is found in possession of larger quantities of illegal drugs, more than for individual use, they could be charged with possession with intent to distribute. Individuals found in possession of large quantities of controlled substances can incur distribution charges even if they are not caught in the act of selling or delivering illegal drugs. Possession with intent to distribute is a more serious charge than either simple possession or constructive possession, and convictions carry a heavier sentence.
  • Marijuana possession: Although 33 states have decriminalized the use of medical marijuana as of 2021, and many of them have even legalized marijuana products for recreational use, marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug under US federal law. Illegal possession, distribution, or growing of marijuana can result in federal charges in some situations.
Federal vs. State Charges

Federal drug convictions can result in strict penalties, fines, and sentencing. Penalties increase substantially if a person was seriously injured or killed because of illegal drugs or relating to the incident leading to the arrest. Penalties, fines, and sentencing also increase after the first offense. Harsher penalties may apply if drugs are smuggled into the US from countries such as Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, or Colombia. Federal drug possession charges can result in several penalties, including the following:

  • The loss of federal benefits. This includes subsidized housing, scholarships, grants, licenses, and student loans. Individuals convicted of federal drug possession charges can suffer the loss of benefits for up to 1 year for the first offense and up to 5 years for subsequent offenses.
  • Prison time. Persons convicted of federal drug possession charges can face penalties of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Second offense convictions can face penalties of no less than 2 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. Convictions for subsequent federal drug possession charges face increased prison time and higher fines.
  • Civil Penalties. Persons charged by the federal court for the possession of controlled substances might pay fines of up to $10,000, even if criminal prosecution is not pursued. These individuals may also receive fines for the cost of the investigation and the prosecution.

There are several drugs that incur stricter penalties than others. For example, simple possession of Flunitrazepam or “roofies,” as they are more commonly known, can result in a three-year prison sentence and substantial fines.

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Federal Drug Categories

Controlled substances are divided into several categories by the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). These categories are called Schedules. Illegal drugs are grouped into Schedules according to their perceived potential for abuse, medical use, safety, and other factors. The government controls the sale, use, and distribution of controlled substances.

  • Schedule 1: Highly addictive substances, including LSD, methaqualone, heroin, ecstasy, and marijuana.
  • Schedule 2: Highly addictive but have some accepted medical uses. Drugs in this category include PCP, morphine, and cocaine.
  • Schedule 3: Some accepted medical uses. Not highly addictive and have lower potential for abuse. Drugs in this category include codeine, anabolic steroids, some barbiturates, and hydrocodone
  • Schedule 4: Regular medical use. Low potential for abuse. Schedule 4 substances include Xanax and Valium, as well as most other benzodiazepines
  • Schedule 5: Accepted medical use and low potential for abuse. These drugs include prescription cough meds containing codeine and cough meds sold over the counter.

Individuals caught with any of these Scheduled drugs on their person or otherwise in their possession may face either state or federal drug possession charges, or both.

Federal Drug Possession Defense

There are several strategies skilled criminal defense attorneys might use when defending an individual against federal charges. Defense strategies will vary depending on the circumstances and details of the case. However, some defenses tactics which your attorney might use include:

  • Violation of Fourth Amendment search and seizure laws. A criminal defense attorney may be able to prove that police, in their haste to secure an arrest, did not obtain all necessary warrants before conducting their search and seizure. In this case, the evidence found during the arrest would be inadmissible and disregarded by the court, and the charges would be dropped.
  • The defendant was not in possession of the drugs. In some cases, an attorney may be able to prove that the defendant was not in possession of the drugs or was not aware of their presence. This defense is most effective against constructive possession charges.
  • The drugs belonged to someone else. Another possible defense strategy is proving that the drugs found on the individual’s property (home, vehicle, etc.) belonged to another person.

If you or someone you know is facing federal drug possession charges, the penalties for conviction are strict. Federal drug convictions do not have parole, and most people convicted at the federal level serve their full prison sentence. To avoid these serious consequences, it is crucial to find a skilled criminal defense attorney with experience practicing law in the federal court. Dennis E. Boyle, Attorney at Law has defended over 200 federal jury cases and has the knowledge and expertise necessary to handle your case.

Time Is of The Essence

Contact Dennis Boyle, Attorney At Law Today

If you are up against the federal government in court, you cannot afford to do it on your own or with a lawyer who is not committed to your case. Seek out federal drug charge crime defense lawyer Dennis E. Boyle, Attorney At Law, as your legal advocate and partner during this difficult time. Contact us today.

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