Conspiracy charges are the bread and butter of federal prosecutors. They build most of their cases through the use of a conspiracy charge because it is easier for federal prosecutors to charge more defendants.
The prosecution only needs to prove that there was an agreement to do something illegal and that the person who is charged exhibited the intent to participate in the illegal agreement. That enables prosecutors to use tools like wiretaps to search people’s emails and text messages and not have to depend on finding hard evidence like drugs, money, or weapons in a drug conspiracy case.
If you are currently facing or may be facing DC federal drug conspiracy charges, it is crucial to hire an experienced attorney who can defend your rights and liberty.
The primary tools or investigative techniques used by law enforcement officers are wiretaps and informants. Wiretaps are an easy way for prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to gain access to a large group of people once the authorities identify their main target, leading them in different directions and helping them to build their case.
Problems occur when agents interpret these wiretaps. These are not necessarily the most clear-cut investigations. There can be different interpretations of innocuous language that law enforcement agents interpret otherwise. An interpretation can become very dangerous when law enforcement agents want to believe that a drug conspiracy exists. Any language they find in communications could be interpreted as being language about a drug deal.
Undercover agents and informants are also frequently used in DC federal drug conspiracy investigations, but an undercover law enforcement agent cannot be the second party in a conspiracy.
The rules regarding what the government must prove are relaxed with a drug conspiracy case as opposed to a regular conspiracy case. In a non-drug conspiracy case, prosecutors must show that there was an agreement to so do something illegal among two or more people, as well as an overt act by someone in the conspiracy doing something, not necessarily illegal, in furtherance of the conspiracy.
In a drug conspiracy case, prosecutors must show that there is an agreement to do something illegal. They must prove that the person who is charged exhibited an intent to participate in a conspiracy. This does not necessarily have to be an overt act. Many times, prosecutors try to show an overt act because it is more palatable to a jury. However, they are not required to do so.
Penalties in a DC federal drug conspiracy case depend on the quantity of the drugs involved and the person’s prior criminal record. A person can be eligible for a “career offender” sentence if they have two prior violent felonies, two prior drug felonies, or a combination of both. That can greatly increase someone’s sentencing guideline ranges in a drug case.
There are also mandatory minimums associated with certain quantities of certain drugs. The statute prescribes mandatory minimums for certain drugs, so a person can end up with a five-year, 10-year, or 20-year mandatory minimum sentence. It is very important for the defense attorney to know that when litigating a drug case.