Drug Trafficking

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

Drug trafficking is a serious federal offense that requires an experienced and well-seasoned federal defense attorney. Our lawyers are well-experienced and well-known. We are familiar with all the federal drug crime laws and familiar with the federal court process. We will help you if you have been charged with drug trafficking.

If you are caught transporting, manufacturing or selling controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin, you will be charged with drug trafficking. 21 U.S.C. § 841 states that it is a crime for any person to knowingly or intentionally manufacture, distribute or possess a controlled substance.

The severity of the penalties for a drug trafficking conviction depends on numerous factors such as the type of drug trafficked; the amount of drug trafficked; whether the crime was committed domestically or internationally; criminal background, and any prior drug convictions.

What Makes Drug Trafficking A Federal Crime?

Drug trafficking is an umbrella term the federal government uses when people sell and move drugs throughout states and across state lines. For example, many people will grow large amounts of marijuana in one state before moving and selling it in a different state.

Several people are involved in an act of drug trafficking, including those who manufacture the drugs, transport the drugs, sell the drugs, and use the drugs.

Over the last few decades, the American government has really gone to war against drugs, which will not change. Many people do not realize how damaging a federal-level drug conviction can be, especially since there are mandatory minimum sentences that will be imposed.

A person who has been convicted of this type of crime will likely have to serve 85 percent of the sentence they receive, will lose their privilege to vote, be disallowed from ever owning or using a weapon, and will be supervised by a probation department.

If someone has been found or pleads guilty to a drug charge, they can appeal the case. However, once someone pleads to a drug charge and works out a deal with the government, their appellate rights will be waived, and it will be very difficult to appeal at that point.

In order to do so, they would have to mount an ineffective assistance of counsel argument, which is a very tough standard to meet.

If someone loses a case at trial, it could certainly be appealed for a number of reasons, such as a bad ruling, the admission of evidence that should have been barred, or the absence of evidence that would have supported their argument. In order to appeal a case, a notice of the intent to appeal must be submitted within a certain amount of time, and an opening brief would have to be filed.

In addition, numerous procedural rules apply when it comes to federal appellate work. It will be necessary to obtain a lawyer who specializes in and understands the process of federal appeals. An appellate lawyer will review the entire trial transcript and speak with the original defense lawyer in order to determine whether or not there is a solid basis upon which to argue an appeal.

There are different levels of punishment: there is a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life sentence in prison, a mandatory minimum of 5 years to 40 years sentence in prison; and a sentence of zero to 20 years in prison.

Our federal drug trafficking attorneys are here to contest all the evidence presented against you and to fight against any mandatory minimums the prosecutor may be trying to impose. We are aggressive, persistent, and determined to get you, as our client, the best possible results.

Our duty to you is to help you, direct you, and ultimately fight for you! If you are facing federal drug trafficking charges or any other federal drug crimes, you can not afford to waste any time. Contact our law firm and set up a free face-to-face consultation.

Distribution or Manufacturing of Drugs at the Federal Level

The feds will come in very harshly and with great power if someone is manufacturing narcotics or any type of drug to a large degree.  The main concern they have is public safety that somehow, something is going to blow up and injure people.

Also, when people are manufacturing things, if they don't do it the right way, whatever they create or manufacture could end up killing someone or seriously harming them, and then there are, of course, people who are addicted to all these different drugs — methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and the plethora of drugs that are coming into the United States and that are also being manufactured within the United States itself.

So, obviously, the federal government will get involved if it involves a manufacturing situation where there's a danger to the public.

Typically, they will team up with state enforcement agents, and both will go in, get a search warrant, raid a location and if they find manufacturing equipment and they find a situation where there's a danger to the public — especially if there's anything near any schools.

They will arrest that person, and they will try to do everything they can to take all of their equipment away from them, prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, put them in federal prison, and really teach them a lesson and protect society.

Again, these manufacturing cases are so dangerous, and there's so much on the line that the feds will typically use their most sophisticated prosecutors to deal with these cases and try to put people in prison for a long time. So, if you have a manufacturing case related to drugs, related to anything at the federal level, come and sit down with me.

We'll go over the situation.  Maybe there's more than meets the eye.  Maybe there's a different version of events as to what's going on, but regardless of the situation, you need someone that is very well-versed in criminal defense and knows how to deal with these federal manufacturing cases. The federal crime of Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE) primarily targets large-scale drug traffickers participating in extensive drug conspiracies.

How to Get the Best Result in a Major Federal Drug Case?

These major federal drug cases are serious business because many times, people charged with them face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, serving 85%. 

Also, if the person is caught with a gun being used in the crime, that's an additional five years on top of the ten years, and this is a minimum sentence of 15 years in that particular example. It certainly could be higher. 

Also, if the person has prior drug convictions, two for example, and they've got a new drug conviction related to sales or possession for sales and the previous cases were sales of drugs cases, they're facing a career offender punishment which can sometimes equal 20 years in prison.

Experience Matters

So, with all these things on the line, you want to figure out your best approach to the case. So, of course, number one is hiring a federal criminal defense attorney with much experience in federal drug cases. 

I've been handling these cases for approximately 30 years and was involved in some of the first RICO drug charges in federal court in Los Angeles County Central District, so I have a good foundation.  I understand exactly how these cases are handled and what it takes to get the best result. 

Review of the Evidence

We must first consider where you fit in in the big scheme of things.  In other words, consider the following factors:

  • Are you a significant player where your name is high up on the indictment?
  • Are you a small player who is more of a mule and didn't have much involvement or collect much money? Therefore, why should you be in a position to face somewhere north of 10 years in federal prison?

Safety Valve

We also look at whether or not you might be safety valve eligible.

What that means is there is something called a “safety valve,” and if you can meet specific criteria which helps those new offenders who don't have much of a criminal record be able to be put in a position where they can get below the 10-year mandatory minimum and get an additional two levels knocked off their sentence. 

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines control everything.  That's why we'll go over those guidelines when you meet with me.  We'll look at them and see how they work.  We'll look at your criminal history. 

We'll look at what you're charged with, and then we'll be in a better position to start talking to you about some things that can be done to help you.

5K Departure

The last thing that makes sense being brought up in a federal drug conviction to figure out the best angle relates to cooperation with the government, also known as a 5k departure. 

This is where you sit down with the government and its agents and give them information to help them catch other people, guns, drugs, whatever the case. This is not an easy decision for many people because they're concerned that potentially, the people could find out that they're cooperating and their life may be in danger. 

So, this is something that we have to talk about and decide whether it's something that makes sense for you or not. You've come to the right place if you're charged with a big federal drug case.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. 

I worked for the prosecutors early in my career. Then a superior court judge, and finally, in the early 1990s, I started defending people like you for significant federal drug cases.  Pick up the phone now.  Make the call.  I stand at the ready to help you.

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Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about Federal Criminal Defense issues in Los Angeles and Encino California. We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.