In Dallas, drug offenses are prosecuted in both state and federal courts. If you are facing federal drug charges, it is critical that you immediately reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney. The government prosecutes federal drug crimes aggressively, and you could face harsh penalties.
What are Common Federal Drug Charges in Dallas?
There several federal drug offenses the government can charge an individual with in Dallas. Some of the most common federal drug charges include:
- Possession of a Controlled Substance. You can be charged with possession of a controlled substance if you possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription.
- Drug Trafficking. Drug trafficking under 21 U.S.C. Section 841 is manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with the intent to distribute illegal drugs.
- Drug Importation. You can be charged with drug importation under 21 U.S.C. Section 952 and Section 960 if you import a controlled substance into the United States.
- Drug Conspiracy. A drug conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit a federal drug-related crime. You can be convicted of drug conspiracy under 21 U.S.C. Section 846 and Section 963, even if the crime was not completed or you did not personally commit the crime.
- Protected Location Offenses. You can be charged with a protected location offense if you either distribute illegal drugs to individuals under the age of 21, distribute illegal drugs within a school zone, or employ individuals under the age of 18 in drug operations.
Many times, federal and state drug crimes overlap in Dallas. In general, you will be prosecuted in federal court when the offense is more severe. Examples of serious offenses include drug trafficking large quantities or if the defendant has a lengthy criminal history Simple possession of a small quantity, on the other hand, is more likely to be prosecuted in Texas state court.
What are the Penalties of a Federal Drug Conviction?
Being convicted of a federal drug offense is very serious. The penalties are more severe at the federal level as compared to the state level. Potential penalties include:
- Mandatory minimum prison sentences ranging from one year to life imprisonment,
- Substantial fines,
- Asset forfeiture, and
In addition, a federal drug crime conviction comes with many potential collateral consequences, including:
- Losing your professional licenses,
- Difficulty finding or keeping employment,
- Losing your ability to possess firearms, and
- Losing your public benefits, like housing assistance.
What Factors Influence Sentencing in Federal Drug Cases in Dallas?
Several factors influence sentencing in federal drug offense convictions.
- Type of Drug
Under the Controlled Substances Act, there are five different drug schedules. The schedules under federal law are similar but not identical to Texas state law. Common drugs in each schedule include:
- Schedule I: marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, mushrooms, LSD, peyote
- Schedule II: Cocaine, Ritalin, opium, methadone, morphine, oxycontin, Percocet, methamphetamine, PCP
- Schedule III: Ketamine, Codeine, Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet
- Schedule IV: Xanax, Valium
- Schedule V: cough suppressants with codeine
Schedule I drugs carry the harshest penalties, and Schedule V drugs carry the lightest sentences.
- Amount of Drug
- Location of the Offense (e.g., school zone)
- Prior Criminal Record
- Whether the Offense Harmed Another Person
- Whether There Was a Weapon Involved
- Whether Minors Were Involved
Defense of Federal Drug Charges in Dallas
Just because you have been charged with a federal drug crime, does not mean you will be convicted. There are several effective defenses that an experienced attorney could argue on your behalf.
- Unlawful Search and Seizure. If the police or federal agents violate your constitutional rights during your arrest, any evidence illegally collected may be thrown out of court. This can lead to lesser charges or the case being dismissed.
- Challenge drug lab results. The evidence presented could be challenged if there was faulty crime lab analysis or that was evidence that was lost or tampered with.
- Entrapment is a defense if you were induced by law enforcement officers to commit a drug offense, and you would not have otherwise committed the offense but for the improper coercion of the officer.
- Valid prescription. You cannot be convicted for possession if you have a valid prescription or license to possess the controlled substance.
Speak to an Experienced Dallas Attorney
If you or someone you know is facing federal drug charges, you should immediately reach out to a local Dallas criminal defense attorney. You should not speak to the police or federal agents before seeking representation.
Philip D. Ray is an experienced criminal attorney and former prosecutor who will provide you with a skilled and aggressive defense. He has years of experience defending individuals against federal drug charges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Call The Law Office of Philip D. Ray today at (469) 588-6770 for a consultation.