Federal Drug Crimes
Drug crimes have skyrocketed in recent years, and federal regulation of controlled substances has led to many individuals facing stressful drug charges. Any criminal offense can be overwhelming, but federal offenses often carry the possibility of more serious penalties. You could be facing decades of jail time or tens of thousands of dollars in fines, and the government may even be able to seize your property.
A Houston defense attorney can help defend you against your charges, but not all lawyers are able to represent you at a federal level. Federal laws are different than state ones, and only certain attorneys are licensed at a federal level. To protect your future, you need the help of someone who has experience defending individuals against drug crimes on a federal level.
Federal Drug Charge Defense Attorney in Houston
Matt Horak represents those charged with federal crimes in Harris and Montgomery County, and he can take on your case. He can work to protect your assets and property while building a strong defense for your difficult circumstances. Matt Horak and his legal team can represent you at all phases of your trial and answer your questions about the confusing process ahead of you. Call Horak Law at (713) 225-8000 today to schedule an appointment to discuss your case and explore your options.
Drug Crimes on a Federal Level
The DEA is a federal law enforcement agency that pursues felony drug crimes like drug possession, manufacture, distribution, delivery, or trafficking. Drug matters typically fall under the DEA's jurisdiction if a large amount of drugs is involved, drugs were taken across state or national borders, or an organized operation is involved. In most instances, the DEA is concerned with far-reaching or large scale drug offenses, not simple possessions charges that might be prosecuted by local law enforcement.
While an individual cannot be charged for the same offense on both a state and federal level, they may face different offenses on different levels. For instance, an individual may be charged with trafficking on a federal level and possession on a state level.
The federal government categorizes controlled substances into "classes" based on their potential for abuse and dependency and any potential medical benefits.
Schedule I drugs – these drugs offer no accepted medical benefits and carry a high potential for abuse. Examples of this type of drug include: marijuana, LSD, heroin, and Ecstasy.
Schedule II Drugs – these drugs have a high potential for abuse and dependency.
Examples of these are: morphine, oxycodone, opium, amphetamine, codeine, and hydromorphone.
Schedule III Drugs – these substances have comparatively less potential for abuse than a schedule I or II drug, but they have a high probability of psychological dependency and a moderate potential for physical dependency.
Examples include: products with less than 90 milligrams of codeine such as Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and benzphetamine, and combined products with less than 15 grams of hydrocodone such as Vicodin.
Schedule IV Drugs – these substances have less potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs.
Examples of this type include: lorazepam, Xanax, diazepam (Valium), and carisoprodol.
Schedule V Drugs – these drugs have a comparatively low potential for abuse and dependency.
Some examples are: cough drops containing less than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters and ezogabine.
Federal Drug Crime Penalties
The penalties for federal drug crimes vary depending on several factors, such as the amount of the substance in question if a person's life was endangered by the offense, if a weapon was involved, and the offender's prior criminal history. If the offense occurred in a protected zone such as a school, the offense's penalties man increase.
Drug trafficking involves manufacturing, distributing or selling illegal drugs. A trafficking charge for a first time offender carries the potential for a mandatory minimum of 5-20 years in prison with a ptotential for life in prison in some situations. The offender may also be fined between $1 million and $50 million. For a third offense, an individual will automatically face life imprisonment.
A possession charge barring mitigating circumstances carries the following potential penalties:
- First offense- at least $1000 in fines and / or up to 1 year in jail
- Second offense – a minimum of $2,500 in fines, and / or 15 days to 2 years in jail
- Third offense – at least $5,000 in fines, and / or 90 days to 3 years in prison
Other offenses include:
- Establishing manufacturing operations: this includes making a place available for making drugs and carries a penalty of up to $500,000 in fines and / or up to 20 years in jail.
- Smuggling goods into the United States: any instance of bringing illegal drugs across the United State's national borders carries the potential for up to $250,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison.
- Employment of persons under 18 years of age: if a person willfully uses a person under 18 to manufacture or distribute drugs, they face up to twice the normal penalties for a federal drug offense.
- Trafficking in drug paraphernalia: if a federal system such as the postal service is used to sell or transport illegal drug paraphernalia, an offender faces up to $250,000 in fines and up to 3 years in prison.
Federal Drug Crime Resources
Law Enforcement Action Partnership - The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) is an organization founded by police officers that aims to get support from law enforcement to support drug policy reforms across the country. LEAP explicitly wants to end the war on drugs and offers 200 criminal justice professionals that give speeches, testimony, and media appearances in furtherance of this objective. Follow the link to learn more.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - The Houston division of the DEA is in charge of enforcing federal drug laws in Houston as well as San Antonio, Austin, Beaumont, and Galveston. Following the link will show you information about various busts and enforcement actions of the DEA in the state. You can also learn information about drug enforcement and submit tips. Below is the Houston DEA's contact information:
1433 West Loop South
Houston, TX 77027-9506
Choosing the Right Texas Attorney for a Federal Drug Charge
You're facing the possibility of serious penalties and how you proceed can affect your entire future. It can be difficult to pick the best way to proceed, but a Houston criminal defense attorney can help minimize your stress.
Don't trust your defense to just anyone. If you've been charged with a federal drug crime in Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County or Brazoria County, call Horak Law at (713) 225-8000 to schedule your consultation about your charges.