Federal Crimes Blog

How are Huge Federal Criminal Drug Cases Resolved Before Trial?

Posted by Hedding Law Firm | Feb 29, 2020

If you or a family member has been indicted in a big federal drug conspiracy case and you're wondering how if there's more than ten individuals indicted that case is going to end up resolving itself?  I can give you an idea having been doing these cases for the past 26 years. Our federal criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

I was on one of the original indictments in Los Angeles many years ago, so I have an idea of how these cases end up getting resolved. Federal criminal prosecutions that involve drug distribution often include accusations under 21 U.S.C. § 846, which is the common statute used for all types of drug-related criminal conspiracies.

Plea Agreement with Federal Prosecutor

On the one hand, the feds don't usually indict people for drug crimes unless they've got evidence, so they're going to have wiretap evidence.  They'll have videotaped surveillance.  They'll have people who have been busted who are cooperating with them.  So most of these cases are going to be resolved by way of a plea agreement.

Federal Criminal Drug Cases

Let's say it's a 20-person indictment.  A very small percentage of those typically are going to end up going to trial.  Most of them will end up working out a deal with the government.  Some of them will cooperate and sit down with the government and give information about themselves, other people in the indictment and maybe even other people who aren't in the indictment.

Other people will just take their medicine.  They'll realize that the government has the goods against them and are going to be able to prove the case.  Maybe they're on wiretap admitting that they're involved in a drug conspiracy or maybe they were caught with a bunch of kilos of narcotics — whatever the case may be.

There will be those handful of defendants though, usually in my experience, the leaders, the organizers, the more high-ups in the conspiracy that don't want to take a deal. Either because they're looking at so much time, they figure it's worth their while to fight the case.

Maybe they actually have a good defense in the case because they've kept themselves separate from the other defendants in the case.  That very small handful of defendants will go to trial and of course all the marbles will be on the line for them because if they get convicted, usually they're looking at mandatory minimums in double digit time in federal prison.

Plead Guilty and Cooperate with Government

A lot of times some of the other people who pled guilty will cooperate against them and come and testify against them.  Ultimately, a jury will decide whether they're innocent or guilty.

If they're found innocent they'll be done.  If they're found guilty, then the judge will sentence them according to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, obviously what their attorney argues and what the prosecutor argues for at the time of the sentencing.

A lot of times in some of these big indictments people will cooperate which will cause other indictments to be triggered because the feds will find other people who were involved in the drug conspiracy or related to the drug conspiracy and they will charge them either in that same indictment with the other defendants, or they'll just create a completely separate indictment.

Sometimes, people are able to give information about individuals involved in a drug conspiracy outside the district where the case is pending, in other states for example, and the federal investigators in those states will be given information.

They will investigate it and then indict more people in those states.  Of course, the people who gave the information will be given credit through what's called a downward departure and their sentence will be mitigated accordingly, depending on how helpful they were to the government and how the government perceives their cooperation — whether or not it was of a substantial benefit to the government.

Contact our Federal Criminal Lawyers for Help

So, a lot of these multiple-person indictments are going to get chopped down to a handful of defendants, if that, and then the case will go to trial with that small amount of defendants.  Very rarely are you going to see a whole host of defendants going to trial unless it's a real bad case filed by the federal government, which they rarely do because they don't really file cases unless they think they can win.

So, if you or a loved one is charged with a big federal drug conspiracy case, even if RICO charges are involved, pick up the phone.  Make the call.  I'm more than happy to put my 26 years of experience to work for you.

Hedding Law Firm is a federal criminal defense law firm located at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0994.

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