Severe Penalties in Federal Court

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT DEFENDING YOUR CASE

I AM CHARGED WITH A DRUG OFFENSE IN FEDERAL COURT AND HAVE HEARD THAT THERE ARE SEVERE PENALTIES FOR DRUG CASES IN FEDERAL COURT, IS THAT TRUE?

Yes, this is true. Most drug cases involve not only the sentencing guidelines, which are quite harsh in drug cases, but also involve various mandatory minimum sentences, which are dependent upon the amount of drugs involved. A defendant can be held accountable for drugs possessed by another person simply if the defendant and the other person engaged in "joint criminal activity" and the other drugs were "foreseeable" to the defendant. Sentences are particularly harsh in cases involving crack cocaine. For example, if it is found that a defendant, with no criminal history, possessed with the intent to distribute 50 grams of crack (or even if only part of the 50 grams was possessed by the defendant and the rest was possessed by a coconspirator and "foreseeable" to the defendant), the defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison.

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