Federal Sentencing Guidelines

The federal sentencing guidelines are basically a set of guidelines that outline the various penalties associated with a variety of different drug trafficking crimes. Even if you’re not a ‘drug trafficker,’ you could still be caught up in federal sentencing guidelines, depending upon how much of what type of drug was found in your possession. These guidelines have mandatory minimums for certain types of drugs and the amount associated with an arrest. They also have different penalties for first-time, second-time and third-time offenders. It’s important to understand that many of these guidelines were designed as an essential part of the War on Drugs. If you’re facing federal drug trafficking charges, you need to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case.

What Are Mandatory Minimums?

Mandatory minimums are basically the least severe sentences you can get in certain situations. This means that no matter what, if the mandatory minimum is 10 years, you’re going to do at least 10 years, if convicted. These laws were designed to lock people up and keep them there as long as possible. These draconian laws have essentially taken discretion completely out of the sentencing process, and although it is now possible for a judge to make a ‘downward departure’ on the federal guidelines, it’s quite rare.

The War on Drugs

The so-called War on Drugs has fueled the privatized prison system and put America at the top of the list for most incarcerated people, worldwide. Many of these people are non-violent drug offenders. Thanks to mandatory minimums and other drug-specific sentencing guidelines, even first-time non-violent offenders can be sent away for years. If you’re facing any kind of federal drug charge, you need to get in touch with a skilled and proven criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to get the ball rolling on your defense. You and your lawyer can develop a strategy for the best possible outcome on your case.

What About First-Time Non-Violent Offenders?

Just because this is your first arrest, doesn’t mean that the government can’t throw the book at you. Thanks to the War on Drugs and mandatory minimums, there is virtually zero discretion when it comes to charges and sentences. Your individual circumstances may not even get taken into account. It doesn’t matter if you’re a star college student or a model citizen that got caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you’re facing federal drug charges, there are federal sentencing guidelines involved. Whether it is your first offence or your third, you need to speak with an experienced defense attorney immediately after your arrest.

Different Drugs and Different Penalties

It’s important to note that the federal drug sentencing guidelines involve different penalties for different types of drugs. Typically, drugs that are more popular in lower socioeconomic areas have higher sentences associated with them. If that sounds unfair, well, it is. Marijuana charges also have their own set of trafficking penalties. You can read the entire list of federal drug trafficking penalties for drugs based on their classified schedule at the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) website.

10, 20, Life

You’ve probably heard of “10, 20, Life.” It basically describes what penalties offenders might be facing if convicted on their first, second and third offense with certain types and amounts of drugs. For example, For a first cocaine offense of 5 kilograms or more, you can face not less than 10 years. For a second offense, you can face not less than 20 years, and for your third offense, you are looking at life imprisonment. If other factors were involved, like injuries or weapons, you could also be facing additional charges.

What About Plea Bargains?

Every federal drug case is different. Depending upon the unique situation and circumstances surrounding your case, a plea bargain might be an option. Of course, your lawyers ultimate goal should be to get you cleared of all charges. When that’s not possible, you can discuss potential strategies for the best possible outcome of your case with your experienced and proven criminal defense attorney.

When to Call a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or somebody you love is facing federal drug trafficking charges, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney who has successful federal drug case experience. These cases can be highly complex and involve multiple investigating agencies. You need somebody with experience and a proven record to have your back.

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a federal drug crime, contact the skilled team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC at (877) 231-1600 for an immediate case consultation.

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