Maryland Federal Drug Trafficking Lawyer
Federal drug trafficking is a crime that carries significant penalties as anyone convicted of federal drug trafficking in Maryland is subject to mandatory minimum sentencing. Even a first conviction of interstate drug trafficking could bring a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison. Depending on the quantity of the substance(s) involved, a mandatory minimum sentence could be as high as 10 years in prison with a maximum life sentence, even for a first federal drug trafficking offense, if the offense results in someone’s serious bodily injury or death. A seasoned Maryland federal drug trafficking lawyer can come to your aid if you’re charged with a serious drug trafficking crime and help you aggressively fight these charges.
Drug Trafficking Overview
Most drug crimes in Maryland are prosecuted as state offenses. Drug possession, cultivation or manufacturing, and simple distribution cases are typically handled in state Circuit Courts or District Courts in counties across Maryland. Sometimes, however, a drug offense may fall under federal jurisdiction. Typically, federal prosecutors focus on the following criminal acts: (1) possession with intent to distribute, (2) distribution, (3) manufacturing, and (4) or conspiracy to do any of the aforementioned activities. Their prosecutions typically focus on so called “narcotics enterprises” or large drug organizations, although they are not limited to these kinds of targets.
Whether you are accused of trafficking from within Maryland or from Maryland to other states or you are subject to highway drug interdiction along I-95, I-81, or investigated for federal drug trafficking for some other reason, a federal drug trafficking charge can lead to decades in prison, forfeiture of assets considered to be drug proceeds, and other legal ramifications.
Under federal law and the United States Constitution, you are entitled to certain rights, including the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to avoid self-incrimination (the right to remain silent), and the right to effective assistance of counsel. Preserve your rights by calling a skillful and experienced Maryland federal drug trafficking lawyer who can provide the legal counsel and defense representation that you need to challenge the prosecution’s case against you.
Federal Drug Trafficking Laws
Federal drug laws are codified as the Controlled Substances Act in Title 21 of the United States Code. The Controlled Substances Act prohibits unauthorized distribution of controlled substances—including both illegal and prescription drugs. It also assigns various controlled substances to a drug schedule based upon the each substance’s risk of abuse and legitimate medical purpose (or lack thereof). Penalties are most severe for illegal possession, distribution, or trafficking of Schedule I and Schedule II drugs, but any federal drug conviction can have lifelong consequences.
The federal statute against drug trafficking is found in 21 U.S.C. Section 841. This law specifies certain quantities of a particular controlled substance to elevate the offense from basic distribution to trafficking.
The penalties associated with a drug trafficking conviction depend upon the type and quantity of the drug(s) involved. The federal narcotics statute penalizes those accused of drug trafficking based on the amount of the substance which contains a “mixture containing a detectable amount” of the controlled substance. Thus, the “purity” of the suspected narcotics is not relevant for purposes of mandatory minimums. Anyone convicted of possessing with intent to distribute, distribution, or manufacturing or conspiracy to do any of the aforementioned activities, the following amounts of a controlled substance, faces 5 to 40 years in prison:
- Cocaine – 500 grams
- Cocaine base – 28 grams
- Fentanyl – 40 grams
- Fentanyl analogue – 10 grams
- Heroin – 100 grams
- LSD – 1 gram
- Methamphetamine – 5 grams pure, 50 grams mixture
- PCP – 10 grams pure, 100 grams mixture
These penalties are applicable for even those convicted of their first drug trafficking offense. Penalties are enhanced to 20 years to life if serious bodily injury or death occurs. A second offense is punishable by 10 years to life in prison. Drug trafficking fines could range from $5 million to $50 million.
For greater quantities of drugs, the penalties are more severe meaning contacting a Maryland federal drug trafficking lawyer becomes even more important. Federal drug trafficking laws apply a sentence of 10 years to life in prison for a first offense of trafficking, including possession with intent to distribute, manufacturing, distributing , or conspiracy to do any of the aforementioned activities, involving the following quantities:
- Cocaine – 5 kilograms
- Cocaine base – 280 grams
- Fentanyl – 400 grams
- Fentanyl analogue – 100 grams
- Heroin – 1 kilogram
- LSD – 10 grams
- Methamphetamine – 50 grams pure, 500 grams mixture
- PCP – 100 grams pure, 1 kilogram mixture
The Controlled Substances Act also specifies penalties for trafficking in other drugs:
- Schedule I or II substances, GHB, and Flunitrazepam – 20 maximum for first offense, 20 years to life if serious bodily injury or death results; 30 years maximum for second offense, life in prison if serious bodily injury or death results
- Schedule III – 10 years maximum for first offense, 15 years for serious bodily injury or death; 20 years maximum for second offense, 30 years for serious bodily injury or death
- Schedule IV – 5 years maximum for first offense, 10 years maximum for second offense
- Schedule V – 1 year maximum for first offense, 4 years maximum for second offense
One of the most commonly used and trafficked illegal drugs is marijuana. Although the federal government recently narrowed the scope of its marijuana trafficking prosecutions in an August 29, 2013 Department of Justice Memo, marijuana trafficking remains illegal under federal law. Trafficking in marijuana, hashish, or hashish oil is punishable depending on the quantity of drug involved:
- Less than 50 kilograms– 5 years maximum first offense, 10 years maximum second offense
- 50 to 99 kilograms or plants – 20 years maximum first offense, 20 years to life for serious bodily injury or death; 30 years maximum for second offense, life for serious bodily injury or death
- 100 to 999 kilograms or plants – 5 to 40 years first offense, 20 years to life for serious bodily injury or death; 10 years to life for second offense, life for serious bodily injury or death
- 1,000+ kilograms or plants – 10 years to life first offense, 20 years to life for serious bodily injury or death; 20 years to life for second offense, life for serious bodily injury or death
Mandatory minimum sentencing and millions of dollars in fines hang in the balance for anyone convicted of a drug trafficking offense. Thus, it is imperative that you retain an experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive federal drug trafficking attorney in Maryland.
Federal Drug Trafficking Defense in Maryland
Felony drug crime conviction not only carries the potential for lengthy prison sentences, but it can also have tremendous collateral consequences, including loss of firearm rights and an inability to receive certain federal benefits including food stamps, federal public housing subsidies, and federal student loans.
If you are investigated or indicted for drug trafficking crimes, you will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys or other federal prosecutors with evidence in some cases gained from specialized agencies such as the FBI, DEA, ATF, or elite local law enforcement units.
While it may seem bleak, all is not lost. Call today to speak with a Maryland federal drug trafficking lawyer prepared to handle the challenges of your case.