There are many factors to take into account when considering a federal drug offense. Some of these factors include the substance that is possessed or sold, the amount of the substance that is possessed or sold, and the extent to which a potential defendant is involved with the sale or possession of the controlled substance. These factors will be joined with others to determine the penalty for a drug conviction. But no matter the penalty you are given for your drug offense, a Drug Conviction Federal Appeals Lawyers familiar with the federal court system may be able to help with your situation.
Overview Of Drug Conviction Federal Appeals
Any hopes of a successful appeal of a federal drug conviction must start with hiring the right Drug Conviction Federal Appeals Lawyer. The areas of law with which the attorney you hire should be familiar with are:
- Manufacturing and distribution of a controlled substance
- Conspiracy to possess, distribute, or manufacture a controlled substance
- Importing controlled substances
- Exporting controlled substances
- Conspiracy to export or import controlled substances
Drug Conviction Federal Appeals Sentencing Guidelines
The type and quantity of a controlled substance will be the most important factors when a sentence is given for a federal drug conviction. A minimum and maximum range of punishment can be found at 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b) and 960(b). However, it is important to remember a judge possesses the power to increase the maximum sentence if certain circumstances exist.
When a drug offense includes a serious bodily injury, the minimum sentence is 20 years in federal prison. The maximum sentence under this circumstance is life imprisonment. Additionally, an individual who has a previous federal drug conviction and is convicted on new federal drug charges faces a significantly increased sentence.
An understanding of federal sentencing guidelines is important to the process of appealing a federal drug conviction.
Federal Drug Charges and Crimes Explained
Drug-related crimes are distinguished by federal drug statutes. These statutes will determine the seriousness of the crime and the punishment given to the offender. Drug-related offenses included under federal drug statutes are:
Distribution, possession with the intent to deliver, and manufacturing of controlled substances are all included under drug trafficking charges.
Manufacturing is an extremely serious federal drug offense and includes growing and producing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute. These cases usually involve large amounts of a controlled substance.
When an individual acts in concert with others to import, produce, or distribute a controlled substance, a drug conspiracy charge can be the result. The prosecutor must prove the defendant knew the conspiracy was taking place.
Protected Location Offense
The distribution of drugs to persons in a school zone or who are under the age of 21 is considered an offense of protected location.
Federal Drug Schedules
The Controlled Substance Act was created to consolidate the changes that have taken place with federal drug laws over the years. The CSA separates drug charges into ‘schedules’ and groups drugs according to the danger they pose to individuals and their communities.
- Schedule 1 – Ecstasy, LSD, Heroin, and Marijuana
- Schedule 2 – Morphine and Cocaine
- Schedule 3 – Marinol, Vicodin, Anabolic Steroids
- Schedule 4 – Valium, Ambien, Xanax
- Schedule 5 – Cough Suppresants and Lyrica
Sentencing Guidelines And Enhancements
There are a number of factors that will influence the sentence a defendant receives for a federal drug offense. These factors include:
- Prior convictions
- Presence of firearms
- The schedule and quantity of the controlled substance
2014 Sentencing Guidelines Reduction
A unanimous vote was given in 2014 by the Sentencing Commission of the United States to reduce sentencing guidelines for drug traffickers. The Commission decided a few months later that these reductions could be applied retroactively.
Appealing A Conviction
If you have been sentenced for a drug-related offense in a federal court, you still have options. You should seek the services of Federal Conviction Federal Appeals Lawyers who possesses the knowledge and skill necessary to fight on your behalf in a federal appeals court. There are time limitations regarding the appeals process so the sooner you contact a Drug Conviction Federal Appeals Lawyers the better.
The federal criminal courts can be hard to navigate. There is so much case-law that defines the elements of various crimes and when the government has overstepped its bounds. Yet, researching and sifting through it all can be a daunting task. It takes many attorneys a lifetime of research and practice to gain competency. Even then, the laws are changing all the time as the case-law redefines them.
Therefore, when you choose an attorney for a criminal appeal, you’d best choose one that has a successful practice. Hiring your family estate planning attorney to represent you on trial or appeals can be like planning your own funeral. Yet, there are not many issues that present the right of appeal in the federal jurisprudence anymore.
Situations Where One Might Appeal
The appeals in federal courts are extremely limited. In most state courts, you have the potential for many rounds of appellate review. There is usually an intermediate superior court or appellate division thereof and a supreme court. Although it may be harder to obtain review in the state supreme courts, it is far easier than getting the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court, which is reserved for the importance of conduct by big business and pressing national issues.
The other problem that limits the number of appeals is plea bargaining. Plea bargaining is a practice that only recently came into formal acceptance in the late ’60s. There is no provision for plea bargaining in the U.S. Constitution because it essentially tempts defendants to forgo all their rights and challenging the evidence against them in exchange for a more lenient sentence.
As a result of plea-bargaining sugarcoating mass incarceration, lawmakers are pushing for heavier sentences that can undermine the truth-determining process. If you have the option of paying a fine or going to prison for life, surely you will choose the former even if you are completely innocent. In this manner, the legislation can approach a form of involuntary coercion that delegates full faith in the prosecutors to determine who is guilty or innocent, not a jury of ones peers.
The per se effect of bringing a prosecution is nearly equivalent to a conviction when you consider the obstacles in presenting a strong defense and the potential penalties. In most cases, the prosecutor’s office controls all the evidence and can easily withhold information to make anyone appear guilty. This awesome power lacks checks and balances and creates a system where the harm that officials calculate is only held back by their personal sense of conscience.
Therefore, the only surefire method of guaranteeing appellate review is to put your faith in a rickety bridge of defense counsel and appellate counsel to work out the errors, hoping the courts agree. The monopolization of corporate America and the media control by the elite makes it difficult for victims of injustice to highlight the issues. And even when they do, they are often forgotten about without change because they must face a bureaucracy of government attorneys willing to spin things some other way, without conscience.
The Appellate Process
Regardless of the poor state of the Union, there are ways to win on appeal if you do preserve the right. The best way is to hire an appellate attorney who is good at briefing. Since an appeal revolves around the arguments laid out in a written brief, the better that your attorney is at explaining things with words, the more effective he will be in persuading an appellate panel.
The appellate or trial attorney will file a notice of appeal, a simple one-page document alerting the court and opposing parties of your intent to challenge issues. This is followed by briefing and may, in some cases, include short oral argument sessions for your attorney to persuade a panel that is on the fence or confused by an issue. The ultimate relief will be a new trial, reduced sentence, and even a full acquittal in some exceptional cases.