It is no secret that federal drug charges are very serious matters. You are likely going to face time in the federal prison system if you are convicted. This alone should spur you into action, which means that you need to take a serious look at what options you have for your defense.
Drug charges may come with mandatory minimum sentences on the federal level. While many cases are passed on to the state courts, there are some that are tried by federal prosecutors. Here are some things that you should know about federal drug offenses:
Mandatory minimum sentence impacts
When a drug charge associated with a mandatory minimum is levied against a defendant, there is a good chance that he or she will face a lengthy prison sentence upon conviction. These penalties have been applied in a broader manner than what it's believed that Congress initially anticipated. This also has had a big impact on the federal prison system, although these sentences are usually associated with very serious drug crimes. It is also noted that recidivism isn't as prevalent when a mandatory minimum sentence is handed down in drug-trafficking cases.
Type of drug does matter
The type of drug that you are charged with can have a big impact on what happens with your case. All controlled substances are divided into schedules. Schedule I is the most highly regulated and Schedule V is the least regulated. Here are some of the drugs in each schedule:
- Schedule I: Marijuana, heroin, LSD
- Schedule II: Cocaine, PCP
- Schedule III: Codeine, hydrocodone
- Schedule IV: Xanax, Valium and other benzodiapzepines
- Schedule V: Cough medicines with codeine
Charge type matters
The type of drug charge you are facing also matters. Possession is the least serious and trafficking is the most serious. Others in the middle include selling, distributing and manufacturing. Some defendants choose to accept plea deals on their charges because the charge was reduced to one that isn't as serious.
If you are facing a federal drug charge, make sure that you know your options. Thinking about how each one impacts your case can help you to make a decision about the direction of your case.