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Criminal charged involving the distribution or trafficking of illegal drugs are serious business – especially at the federal level. Drug distribution can involve illegally transporting, selling, or importing a controlled substance. Controlled substances include cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other similar drugs which are illegal to possess and distribute.
Drug distribution and drug trafficking do not just apply to the unlawful sale or distribution of illicit substances. They also apply to the illegal transportation or sale of prescription drugs, such as prescription pain pills and narcotics.
Federal drug distribution charges can arise when the defendant is accused of illegally selling or distributing drugs across state lines. In these instances, the controlled substance theoretically becomes involved in interstate commerce, and consequently, the federal government can become involved.
If you are facing a charge for federal drug distribution at the federal level, a conviction could have a serious impact on every aspect of your life. Knoxville criminal defense lawyer John Barnes of Barnes Law regularly defends individuals who are facing federal drug crime charges and works towards obtaining the best possible results for his clients. Please call us today at 865-805-5703, or contact us online, so that we can begin preparing a legal defense against your federal criminal drug distribution charge.
When it comes to proving guilt in a federal drug distribution case – or any federal criminal case – the prosecutor bears the burden of proof. In other words, the prosecutor must show that the accused committed the drug distribution offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be an extremely high burden to satisfy. An experienced drug defense lawyer could be helpful to you by poking holes in the prosecutor’s version of the case. If the federal prosecutor is not able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused engaged in drug distribution, then the case could be subject to dismissal.
In many ways, drug distribution crimes are similar to drug possession crimes. This is because, in both types of cases, the prosecutor must show that the accused possessed an illegal controlled substance – and that he or she did so knowingly. In other words, the accused cannot be found guilty or convicted of a federal drug distribution crime if he or she is unaware that the substance in question is actually a drug. Similarly, the prosecutor cannot obtain a conviction against the accused if he or she reasonably (albeit mistakenly) harbors a belief that the substance in question is actually legal.
In addition to knowledge on the part of the accused, in order to sustain a conviction for the crime of drug distribution, a federal prosecutor must also demonstrate that the accused has some involvement (even if minimal) in transporting, selling, or distributing the substance in question. Alternatively, the prosecutor must show that the accused had the intention to deliver or sell the drugs.
Lastly, in order to prosecute the accused for drug distribution, there must typically be circumstantial evidence which shows that the defendant is possessing the illegal substance for some commercial purpose – and not just for independent personal use. Circumstantial evidence which could be used to suggest that the accused was engaged in a drug distribution scheme includes any of the following:
In addition to these types of circumstantial evidence, the federal prosecutor might also obtain the testimony of individuals who allegedly sold drugs to the accused or who bought drugs from the accused. These witnesses could provide valuable testimony about the drug distribution operation with which the accused is involved.
If your case goes to trial and a federal jury ultimately convicts you or finds you guilty of drug distribution, you could face steep penalties. Generally speaking, criminal offenses that involve drug trafficking are punished more harshly than those which involve mere drug possession.
Judges utilize the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for determining the penalty in a particular case. The penalties imposed upon conviction for a federal drug distribution offense typically depend upon the size and scale of the accused’s drug distribution operation, as well as the type of drug that is involved in the trafficking operation. For example, the penalties imposed for heroin trafficking are generally going to be higher than those for marijuana trafficking. Penalties imposed upon conviction could include any combination of the following:
In some instances, sentences are subject to various enhancements, such as when it is determined that the accused sold drugs in a school zone or other area that is in close proximity to young people. In the case of a drug trafficking operation, the accused could also be forced to relinquish all assets which have some relationship to the drug distribution operation, including motor vehicles, bank accounts, or real properties which are used to facilitate the drug distribution scheme. Finally, if the accused is not a citizen of the United States, he or she might subject to possible deportation.
If you have been charged with or convicted of federal drug distribution charges, it’s in your best interest to retain an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney John Barnes of Barnes Law has the experience and skill necessary to handle your case in court and pursue the best result possible on your behalf.
Time may be of the essence in your federal criminal case. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a Knoxville criminal defense lawyer about your pending federal drug distribution charge, please call us today at 865-805-5703, or contact us online.
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