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Washington, DC 20036
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The government’s war on drugs has been around since the 19th century and continues today. The first drug-related law in the United States was the Harrison Narcotics Tax of 1914, which restricted the use and distribution of certain drugs. In 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was formed. By 1937, the Marihuana Tax was adopted, but it has been argued this was only due to the cronyism of prominent and wealthy families who would be negatively affected by the hemp trade.
Around this time, a smear campaign was adopted, especially against marijuana (otherwise known as weed or pot). In targeted advertisements and even educational videos in schools, the public was told that marijuana is hazardous, life-threatening, and highly addictive. Those who smoked marijuana, even recreationally, were painted as dangerous, hardened criminals.
By 1970, President Richard M. Nixon adopted more substantial penalties for drug use and distribution under the auspices of the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax. In 1973, Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which still operates today. In 1982, Vice President George H.W. Bush, under the administration of President Ronald Regan, extended the scope and power of existing drug laws. Over the years, the drug laws and penalties for use and distribution have skyrocketed, incarcerating millions of people and destroying countless lives.
In 2019 alone, more than 500,000 people were arrested for small amounts of marijuana, which dwarfs total arrests for all violent crimes.
If an individual is found with small amounts of drugs and no other related criminal activity, they may be charged with drug possession under state or federal law. Individuals are charged with drug possession if they are caught with only enough drugs for personal use. Most people caught possessing small amounts of controlled substances are charged by the state. If an individual is caught with a supply of drugs greater than for personal use, or if there are indicators that the individual does or plans to manufacture, distribute, or sell the drugs in their possession, they will most likely receive federal drug trafficking charges.
Federal convictions are more serious and carry harsher penalties than most state convictions. Individuals convicted of federal drug trafficking charges could be sentenced to serious jail time and face other penalties.
Whether an individual is charged with possession, possession with the intent to distribute, or drug trafficking depends on the amount of drugs found in their possession. Small amounts of controlled substances may be considered for personal use only and result in drug possession charges, depending on the situation. An individual caught in the act of selling, delivering, or otherwise providing illegal drugs to another (usually an undercover officer) may be charged with distribution of controlled substances. If the individual is caught in possession of drugs greater than for personal use, it is assumed there is an intent to sell or distribute, and they could face drug trafficking charges. Whereas “distribution” refers to the actual movement of drugs, “trafficking” is determined by the weight. Both distribution and trafficking of controlled substances are federal offenses and carry harsh penalties.
While drug trafficking laws do not necessarily involve crossing state lines or borders, cases in which individuals or organizations are caught smuggling illegal drugs into the US from other countries such as Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia can incur harsher penalties. These situations could also lead to complicated international charges.
Trafficking charges can include possession with the intent to distribute, distributing, and charges for manufacturing controlled substances. The specific charges an individual may receive depend on the amount or weight of the drugs found in the individual’s possession as well as the type of drug or drugs found.
Under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), the government divides controlled substances into categories called schedules. Illegal drugs are categorized into different schedules based on several factors, including perceived abuse potential, medical use, and safety concerns.
The type of drug found in an individual’s possession and which schedule it is classified under, and the amount or weight of the controlled substance found will affect the specific charges and penalties the individual is likely to receive. The possession, distribution, or intent to distribute can result in 10 years minimum sentence for:
While an individual could receive a 10-year minimum sentence for their first trafficking offense, the penalty will increase to a 20-year minimum sentence for the second offense. The third offense can result in life imprisonment. If someone dies or is seriously injured due to drug trafficking, the sentence could double and result in a life sentence for a subsequent offense.
If an individual is caught possessing amounts larger than for personal use but smaller than the amounts listed above, there is still a mandatory five years in federal prison. People can receive this sentence for:
Charges for conspiracy to traffic drugs carry a heavy penalty and can result in up to 20 years in federal prison. Even if no drugs were found in the individual’s possession, and no drugs were manufactured or distributed, an individual caught attempting to manufacture, sell, or distribute illegal drugs may still get charged with drug trafficking.
Additionally, penalties for distributing, selling, manufacturing, or attempting to do so near a school or federal facility can be enhanced. Using a person under 18 years of age to help sell or distribute drugs or carrying or using a firearm while engaging in drug trafficking can also extend the sentence received.
Besides prison time, individuals convicted of drug trafficking charges can also face several other consequences, including loss of personal property and assets such as vehicles or boats. Facing federal drug trafficking charges can also result in loss of employment, lost access to college scholarships and grants, inability to purchase a firearm, and loss of professional license.
The police sometimes act as though they are above the law and search for and seize evidence without first obtaining the necessary warrants. If the police have violated your rights, the evidence of their search and seizure of a controlled substance may not be admissible in court. In law, any evidence obtained illegally (i.e., without a warrant or just/probable cause) is considered “fruit of a poisonous tree.” What this means, in layman’s terms, is that any evidence gathered after an illegal search/seizure is not admissible in court by law. Knowing when evidence has been obtained illegally is important. Without a lawyer on your side with knowledge of these tactics and the ability to call the police out, it is hard to argue in court. With Dennis Boyle and his talented team on your side, you will not only have a strong advocate in court but a strong advocate outside the building, as well.
Engaging the services of an attorney is paramount for even the smallest drug charges. An attorney not only can explain the nuances of these types of charges but can give you the best options for mounting a good defense.
At the Law Offices of Dennis Boyle, we are adamant about accumulating an aggressive, skilled, and compelling defense for you while simultaneously treating you, our client, with the respect you deserve. All people are equal under the law, and a good attorney can vociferously argue for your innocence and right to equality under the law in court. We excel at handling white-collar and federal crime cases for all people, regardless of their alleged crime.
As of now, 16 states and the District of Columbia are “legal” zones for marijuana sales and use. However, under federal law, it is still a Schedule 1 substance.
The laws and statutes on possession or distribution of marijuana have differed dramatically as the United States understands marijuana in a new and promising light. What was once considered “the Devil’s Lettuce” that was thought to be highly addictive and life-ruining is now being used in medical treatments to alleviate symptoms associated with chronic pain, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many other medical issues. In the recreational realm, the amount of marijuana required to arrest and incarcerate a person is now legal for those over 21 years of age and on par with other legal substances such as alcohol or tobacco.
Those who have been arrested and charged with drug crimes for marijuana in the past might still be haunted by the stigma of conviction or incarceration in their everyday lives. Unfortunately, there are no expungement programs in play to “wipe clean” the slate of someone’s previous drug conviction. Fortunately, several advocacy groups are working hard to lead the charge in fighting for the erasure of drug charges on someone’s record. At Dennis Boyle and Associates, we keep abreast of these changes in statutes and follow closely any developments in the realm of expungements of previous marijuana possession and trafficking charges.
If you have been charged with a drug crime for marijuana in Washington, DC, and wish to expunge your record, several things need to happen. As a first course, engaging an attorney who knows the federal and state laws intricately, such as Dennis Boyle, is key to mounting a defense. The next step is to submit a petition to the court; it might seem that it is something one can do themselves, but it is very difficult to be heard without legal counsel present to argue your case. An attorney can bring forth the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and give the court and judge everything they need/want and nothing they do not.
For some people, their records have been sealed to prevent future or prospective employers from seeing their history but police, prosecutors, all federal, and some select state employees have access to it. To have this sealed record expunged, it needs to be unsealed first and then go through expungement.
Dennis Boyle graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1987 and has developed his skillset to help people clear their good names not only in the federal courtrooms of America but also internationally. His knowledge of white-collar crime is unsurpassed by his peers and colleagues, and he puts that expertise to work for his clients every single case.
Mr. Boyle holds bar admissions in District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Alaska, US Supreme Court, US Court of Appeals: District of Columbia, U.S. Court of Appeals: Second Circuit, US Court of Appeals: Third Circuit, US Court of Appeals: Fourth Circuit, US Court of Appeals: Armed Forces, US District Court: District of Alaska, US District Court: District of Columbia, U.S. District Court: District of Maryland, U.S. District Court: Eastern District of Pennsylvania, US District Court: Middle District of Pennsylvania, US District Court: Southern District of New York, U.S. District Court: Western District of Pennsylvania, US Tax Court, International Criminal Court (Hague, Netherlands).
His knowledge of white-collar crime is unsurpassed by his peers and colleagues, and he puts that expertise to work for his clients every single case.
There is no case too small or inconsequential for Mr. Boyle. He strives for excellence in every facet of his life, winning countless awards for his work, such as the American Bar Association Award for Professional Merit and Nationally Ranked Top Ten Attorney’s Award.
If you are charged with a federal drug trafficking offense, including selling and distributing illegal drugs, conspiracy to traffic in controlled substances, or possession of dangerous substances, it can feel like you don’t have options—but you do. It also might feel as if no one is on your side or believes that you have the right to a fair trial—but, again, you do.
Consulting a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney can get your charges reduced or even dismissed. Dennis E. Boyle, Attorney at Law, has the skills and attention to detail necessary to advocate for you on a federal level.