Federal Crimes Blog

Does the Weight of Drugs Matter in a Criminal Prosecution?

Posted by Hedding Law Firm | Mar 04, 2022

In federal drug crimes, weight is huge because every drug has a specific weight that if you have that weight or greater, it can trigger a five or ten-year mandatory minimum in federal prison.  So, when you're talking about that kind of number, you begin to realize that weight is crucial.

Sometimes, a person will be caught with methamphetamine, for example, and look at a mandatory ten-year minimum because they have over 50 grams. The amount of methamphetamine is very close to that 50-gram marker.

Federal Drug Manufacturing - 21 U.S.C. § 841

Suppose the person believes that they may have under 50 grams. In that case, it's undoubtedly worth hiring an expert to weigh the drugs and test the purity of the drugs for purposes of showing that the government does not meet the weight requirement.

This is crucial as it could mean the difference between a minimum of 10 years in federal prison at 85% and being able to argue for a much lower sentence in a particular drug case.

A lot of times, what we see is when the feds get involved in investigating a drug offense, and they use their agents to pretend they are buyers of drugs, they will ask for amounts of drugs over mandatory minimums to be able to bust the person for a case that either triggers a five or ten-year mandatory minimum.  This doesn't seem fair, but they are permitted to do it, and they do it all the time.

So, weight is huge when it comes to a federal drug case.  There's a chart used to determine whether a particular drug triggers a certain mandatory minimum.  Our federal criminal defense attorneys will review further below.

Federal Drug Manufacturing – 21 U.S.C. § 841

The federal statute making drug manufacturing a federal crime is defined under 21 U.S.C. § 841 and includes several drug crime market provisions.

Simply put, this statute makes it a federal crime to knowingly or intentionally manufacture a controlled substance and lays out severe penalties for anyone who is convicted in a federal criminal court.

A 21 U.S.C. § 841 drug manufacturing crime occurs when someone produces a controlled substance. This law also covers any attempts to make a drug. The most common controlled substances include cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

Drug manufacturing is usually prosecuted at the state level. To become a federal-level crime, drug manufacturing typically must involve a large-scale illegal drug operation.

Under 21 U.S.C. § 841, a federal drug manufacturing case can be filed against anyone participating in drug production. This includes someone providing chemicals or equipment used to manufacture illegal drugs or a controlled substance.

Further, the statute penalizes anyone who is the manager of a drug manufacturing facility or who agrees to help in the drug manufacturing process. The Federal Drug Administration (DEA is the primary law enforcement agency that investigates drug manufacturing cases.

What are the Penalties for a Drug Manufacturing Conviction?

If you are convicted of a 21 U.S.C. § 841 federal manufacturing case, the penalties you face are more severe than a conviction in a state court.

The specific punishments will depend on a range of factors under the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Still, the primary elements include the type and quantity of controlled substances and if weapons were involved.

Penalties for a Federal Drug Manufacturing

A conviction under 21 U.S.C. § 841 drug manufacturing will carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Suppose you are found guilty of manufacturing controlled substances in the specifications listed below. In that case, your federal sentence could be increased to a maximum of 40 years, a fine up to $5 million for an individual defendant, or up to $25 million if it was an organization. The specific amounts are listed below as follows:

  • Methamphetamine – 5 grams or more, or 50 grams of a substance containing meth;
  • Phencyclidine (PCP) – 10 grams or more, or 100 grams of a substance containing PCP;
  • Cocaine – 500 grams or more,
  • Cocaine base – 28 grams or more,
  • Heroin – 100 grams or more,
  • Marijuana – 100 kilograms or more, or 100 plants,
  • Phencyclidine (PCP) – 10 grams or more.

Further, there are other circumstances where the drug manufacturing penalties can be increased. For example, If someone dies after using your controlled substances, you could receive a sentence of life in prison.

Another scenario is a conviction for manufacturing an excessive quantity of controlled substances. For example, there is a sentencing enhancement of an additional ten years or life in prison. The fines would increase to $10 million for a person or $50 million for a group or organization.

How Can I Fight Federal Crime Charges?

When you come and sit down with me in my office, we will go over that chart.  We will discuss what type of drugs you are being prosecuted for and the weight.  I'll show you where you fall on the chart and other factors that determine what your sentence will be in a federal drug prosecution that we will discuss.

Once you leave this meeting, you will go with an idea of where you stand in your federal drug case, what type of time you're facing and what you can do to help yourself be in a better position.

Federal Drug Crime Defense Lawyer

Whether that fights the case, defends it, and wins it at a jury trial, or if the evidence is strong against you, other avenues can be explored and discussed in the privacy of my office so you can make a decision that's best for you.

So, if you or a loved one is charged with a federal drug crime and you're concerned about the number of drugs that were involved triggering mandatory minimums or otherwise, you've come to the right place.

Pick up the phone and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding; I stand at the ready to help you. Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County, but we serve people in California and the United States. We offer a free case consultation.

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