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Federal Narcotics Charges - Penalties for a Conviction

Many people wouldn't think so, but being convicted of the federal crime for possessing even one marijuana cigarette would subject them to a term of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to one thousand dollars for a first offense. There is no minimum amount of the drug that can be possessed and not be a crime under federal law. A second offense can serve up to a two-year prison sentence and a fine of up to five thousand dollars. Additionally a second offense carries a fifteen day mandatory minimum sentence. For multiple-time offenders (more than two convictions) the penalties of incarceration rise greatly. The mandatory minimum prison sentence is ninety days and can be extended to three years and the fine can be up to five thousand dollars.

Being convicted of cultivation (growing/manufacturing) and distribution (selling) marijuana holds much more severe penalties than simple possession. The majority of cases tried for these types of offenses are for selling or growing less than fifty Kilograms or promoting under fifty plants. Sentences for such a conviction are up to five years in prison and a steep fine of up to a quarter-million dollars. Amounts of Hashish up to ten Kilograms or one Kilogram of Hash Oil also fall under these guidelines. Once these levels by Kilogram are surpassed the penalties for a conviction increases dramatically.

Up to a twenty year prison sentence (up to thirty years for a second offense) with a fine of up to one million dollars is the typical sentence for a conviction for the cultivation or distribution of fifty to ninety-nine Kilograms of marijuana (or fifty to ninety-nine plants). This sentence also holds true for ten Kilograms or more of Hashish and one Kilogram or more of Hashish Oil. When the quantity exceeds one hundred Kilograms up to nine hundred, ninety-nine Kilograms (one hundred to nine hundred, ninety-nine plants) the fine doubles; up to two million dollars (five million dollars for a group) and the prison term is a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. The prison term may also be extended to up to forty years. For a second offense the prison term and fine doubles again. In excess of one thousand Kilos of the drug will dictate a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years of incarceration and can be extended to a lifetime sentence. The fine for such a conviction doubles to a staggering four million dollars and can be as high as ten million dollars if the conviction involves a group. For a second offense for these quantities the mandatory minimum sentence is twenty years in prison and the fine can be up to eight million dollars for an individual and twenty million dollars if a group is involved with the conviction.     

Additionally, all the above prison sentences and fines are doubled from their above-stated prison term and financial implications if distribution occurs within one thousand feet or various areas where children are likely to be present such as public schools, youth centers, game arcades, public playgrounds and parks as well as housing developments. The double sentence will also go into effect upon conviction for selling, or even giving at no cost more than five grams of the drug to a person under the age of twenty-one years.  

For other controlled substances excluding marijuana the fines and prison terms are also very punitive. Trafficking penalties for illegal substances are classified by different Schedules categorized 1-5 (I to V). First offense penalties for Schedule I-IV (1-4) controlled substances carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and can be lengthened to forty years with fines reaching five million dollars for an individual and up to twenty-five million dollars for a group such as a syndicate. A second offense doubles the mandatory minimum prison term and can be increased to a lifetime sentence depending on the circumstances. The mandatory minimum prison term doubles as well as the fine increasing to up to eight million dollars for an individual. Up to fifty million can be imposed for a group labelled a criminal enterprise for a second offense.

All of the above penalties are based on the quantity of the drugs confiscated that fall in Schedules I to IV (1-4).

A conviction for a Schedule 5 (V) offense, such as Codeine as well as Pseudoephedrine (PSE) and Ephedrine mostly due to their use in the manufacture of methamphetamine carries a jail term of up to one year in prison, and the fine will be no more than one hundred thousand dollars for an individual. For a group, the fine can rise to a quarter million dollars. A second time offender faces prison time of up to four years and the fine is raised to up to two hundred thousand dollars. If the conviction is levied against a group, the fine can grow to up to one half million dollars.

If you've come across evidence that a federal narcotics investigation may be targeting you, a friend, or member of your family, it's essential that you retain an attorney who has vast experience in criminal defense and specializes in federal law. Keep in mind that not all criminal defense trial lawyers are expert in federal law. Whether the charges are for simple possession or any of the above-mentioned more serious charges my law firm can help.

For many years as a former Assistant United States Attorney working for the federal government prior to opening my criminal defense practice, now working for you, my strong understanding of the federal legal system in courtroom settings for the other side gives me the ability to craft the best defense for countering any allegations relating to any drug charges that are pending or have been filed by federal prosecution.

To view all of my qualifications and understand what you should do if you or someone you care about is facing federal drug charges, or any other federal criminal allegations, click here.