Certain illicit drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, are restricted at both the federal and state level. This includes the manufacturing, cultivation, trafficking, distribution and possession of these substances. Conviction on drug charges often carries stiff sentences, including prison time, but sometimes prosecutors will offer plea deals to lower-level offenders in exchange for help with a larger case. Some states have enacted medical marijuana laws, allowing physicians to recommend the drug for certain illnesses while exempting qualified patients from criminal prosecution on marijuana-related drug charges. Other states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. The following articles pertain to drug charges and their respective sentences upon conviction.
Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970
In response to widespread, recreational drug problems in the U.S, Congress in 1970 enacted the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. The Act developed a complex regulatory system designed to control the distribution of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. The CSA established five schedules of drugs, with each schedule representing the degree with which the drug is likely to be abused and the level of accepted medical use.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Overview
Formed during the summer of 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a federal law enforcement agency that is responsible for dealing with drug smuggling and drug abuse within the United States. It is under the U.S. Department of Justice and works directly with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as well as with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Additionally, the DEA has been given the power to conduct United States drug investigations internationally.
Drug Paraphernalia Charges
Possession of paraphernalia, or possession of drug paraphernalia, is a criminal charge involving items that are used in relation to drug crimes. Drug paraphernalia can be divided into two main categories: those used to distribute drugs and those used to ingest drugs. This distinction can be important for someone who is facing drug paraphernalia charges, especially since things like ordinary household items such as scales or spoons can be also used in the distribution or consumption of illegal drugs.
Drug Possession Defenses
There are several ways to defend against a charge of drug possession. Unlawful or illegal search and seizure, the drugs belong to another person, missing evidence, or duress or coercion such as being forced to carry or hold drugs for someone else, are among the most common defenses. Keep in mind, the medical use of marijuana is never a defense in federal court but may be in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. States with such exceptions to marijuana laws typically require a doctor's signed recommendation.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
As with any criminal charge, the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is indispensable if you’re facing drug charges. Besides the criminal penalties involved, a conviction can lead to many negative consequences, such as difficulties in obtaining employment. A qualified criminal defense attorney in your area can provide you much needed legal advice and representation in a court of law.