Federal Drug Offenses


Federal drug offenses are codified beginning at 18 USC 841 of the United States Code. Since the federal government has concurrent jurisdiction with North Carolina over drug offenses, the same crime can be charged in both the state and federal courts. Ultimately one of the jurisdictions - either the state or federal - will generally pursue prosecution, and the other jurisdiction will either dismiss charges or simply not prosecute the offense.  Consecutive prosecution is constitutional, notwithstanding the Constitution's "double jeopardy" clause, but is rare, and requires the United States Attorney to seek a Petite letter from main Justice.

Federal drug felonies have three characteristics:

  • Lengthy punishments and high mandatory minimums
  • Relevant Conduct through the Application of the United States Sentencing Guidelines
  • Conspiracies that involve multiple co-defendants and cooperation

Since federal drug laws are usually - but not always - much harsher than state drug laws, a successful defense depends on the skill of an attorney to either secure a "not guilty" at trial, or . For instance, trafficking in 5 kilos or more of cocaine will mean a mandatory 10 year minimum sentence (without 3553(e) relief) under the federal law, but will mean approximately 15 years under the state laws. The federal system is also often much faster than the state system. While a state case may take anywhere from 12 months to two years, a federal case will generally be resolved with 6 to 7 months, start to end.

Sometimes a state drug case will turn into a federal drug case, particularly if the quantities of drugs in question are large. Or a North Carolina drug case will turn into a federal drug case if federal agencies were involved in the investigation or arrest of the drug crimes. Or if federal authorities made the initial arrest of the defendants.

Sometimes a case will "turn federal" or be "taken federally" if the case involved a confidential informant or snitch is working for the federal government.

Federal drug laws are complicated, and require a federal drug lawyer who understands how they work and how to defend against these charges. First, federal drug laws have various mandatory minimum sentences imposed by statute. If a case can't be won on the facts - if the federal government has a strong case - then it may be necessary to discuss 5K1.1, 3553(e) or Rule 35 substantial assistance as a method to reduce the prison sentence that may be imposed.

Whenever someone is offering 5K1.1 or 18 USC 3553(e) assistance, it's very important that the person get credit for the assistance they've offered. It's also very important that the person have a lawyer present during all aspects of this assistance, including the debrief with agents, to ensure that federal agents - be they Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or other agents - recognize the importance of this assistance. A lawyer who understands how to maximize the benefit of 5K1.1 assistance or 18 USc 3553(e) assistance will be able to negotiate with Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA) in Raleigh to achieve the best possible result for the client.

In addition, you need a lawyer who understands how to avoid the potentially terrible consequences of "relevant conduct". Relevant conduct is the secret weapon the government has that can send people away for years or even decades. It's important that any plea agreement or proffer protect the person's assistance. In addition, it's important that any assistance be done safely and securely so that the person and the person's family are not harmed or injured.

In addition, it's important that if the case can be won on the facts, meaning that the person can achieve a not guilty verdict at trial, that the federal drug lawyer in Raleigh you hire understands the importance of putting on the strongest possible trial defense to win at a federal jury trial.

Too often I encounter clients who have talked to or previously hired lawyers who specialize in other areas of law to handle federal criminal cases. It is always a very dumb decision to hire an attorney who may specialize in a different area of the law to handle your federal drug case. An aggressive federal drug lawyer will be able to handle your case to achieve much better results than a lawyer who is unfamiliar or doesn't know how to handle such cases.

Drug Crimes

We defend people charged with various state and federal drug conspiracies and crimes, from felonies to misdemeanors. We help clients achieve outstanding results through deferred prosecution agreements, favorable plea agreements, cooperation agreements, and trial.

Sex Offense and Child Pornography Crimes

We represent people investigated for sex offenses and child pornography related crimes, including rape, indecent liberties, sexual assault, a sexual exploitation with a minor.  We advise people in pre-arrest and investigations, and have helped our clients avoid prosecution in numerous instances through methodical and careful preparation and interaction with investigating authorities.  We have achieved outstanding results in both federal and state courts.

We have represented parents, teachers, grandparents, uncles, coaches and minors accuses of illicit conduct.

We are familiar with the investigative techniques, the Internet and peer-to-peer technologies at issue, and steps, through treatment and counseling, our clients can take to show they are not a danger to society.

Fraud, Embezzlement and White Collar Crimes

We represent people accused of embezzlement, fraud and other white collar crimes, including accusations of theft from employers, investigations into employee misconduct, mortgage fraud investigations, tax fraud, health fraud prosecutions, and small- and large-scale embezzlement cases.  We have helped clients avoid prosecution through private restitution agreements, have resolved investigations by producing evidence of innocence, and have advised our clients through grand jury and cooperation with state or federal authorities.

Federal Criminal Defense

We represent people facing federal prosecution throughout North Carolina in investigations and prosecutions. We have achieved remarkable results, including non-prosecution during federal investigations, whistleblower rewards involving pollution from ships, Safety Valve, 5K1.1, and 3553(e) reductions, and significant mitigation at sentencing.

We have represented people charged with federal drugs, guns, public corruption, tax and Medicaid fraud, homicides, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO), kidnapping, animal abuse/dog fighting, and child pornography offenses.

Child Abuse and Shaken Baby Syndrome Cases

We defend people against charges of child abuse, including, in particular, shaken baby syndrome cases.  We have taken these cases, where necessary, to trial and won, and we have secured favorable dispositions for clients that allow them to maintain parental rights.  We are well-versed in the latest scientific and medical literature regarding Shaken Baby Syndrome and Abusive Head Trauma diagnoses.

Assaults and Domestic Violence

We have advised hundreds clients accused of assault and domestic violence charges, successfully resolving many of them through deferred prosecution, not-guilty results at trial, or dismissals.  We have represented people accused of the most serious felony by strangulation and malicious maiming charges, and assault with a deadly weapon, stalking, domestic violence protective order, and assault on a female cases.

Kidnapping, Robbery, Burglary & Theft

We have defended (and won) at trial people accused of kidnapping, robbery, and conspiracy charges.  We have negotiated drastically reduced punishments for clients charged with similar crimes, and burglary and theft offenses.  We have avoided prosecution in cases involving home invasions.  And we have defended people charged with kidnapping and interstate kidnapping offenses.

 

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