Defending Drug Trafficking and Sales Cases in Federal Court

October 29, 2019 12:44 pm Published by

Our criminal defense law firm has experience representing clients who were charged with drug trafficking and sales of narcotics in California State and federal courts – in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841. We have helped clients minimize or eliminate penalties for federal drug charges.

It should be noted that prosecution for these types of federal drug offenses will depend on the quantity and type of narcotics involved. However, any type of federal drug crime conviction will expose you to large fines and significant time in a federal prison.

Federal drug trafficking cases are not put together quickly. Local law enforcement, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will often take several months, or even years, to build a solid criminal case.

If you have reason to believe you are under federal criminal investigation, you will need to get a criminal defense attorney involved as soon as possible in the investigation.

It’s not uncommon for mistakes to be made by federal law enforcement agencies during the initial stages of your case that violate your rights. We know how to challenge evidence obtained through the illegal search and seizure of your property.

We might be able to prevent formal charges from being filed against you. We can negotiate with the federal prosecutor to reach deal or secure reduced penalties and alternative punishments.

There are several important legal issues that tend to recur in drug related cases which an experienced criminal lawyer has to be familiar with to provide effective legal representation for a favorable outcome.

While the general principles of criminal and constitutional law applies equally to drug related cases as to all criminal cases, there are some specific factors that are of special importance in these type of cases. Our federal criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Distinction Between Drug Trafficking, Transportation, and Sales

It should be noted that the distinction between a trafficking, transportation, or federal drug sales case and a simple possession case is crucial. Obviously, drug possession is illegal under State and federal law, and the penalties for possession only for personal use is substantially less than a sales or trafficking case.

This major distinction is often the difference between probation or even a diversion program that could lead to case dismissal rather than decades in a federal prison.

Some drug crime cases clearly fall into one category or another, but having an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer can often make the difference on what appears to be a drug sale case, or possession for sales. In some cases, the prosecutor might also charge a defendant with a federal drug conspiracy case if there was an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime.

Quantity of Drugs 

A primary factor to determine whether a case involving illegal drugs is a sales case or a possession case is clearly the quantity of drugs that were seized.  It would prove to be difficult to convince a jury or judge that your possession of a large quantity of narcotics was simply for personal use. Massive quantities tell a much different story.

Imagine someone who has been stopped by police in a routine traffic stop and was found in possession of several ounces of methamphetamine. While they certainly have more quantity than an average person, this amount is not large enough to just rule out the possibility of possession for personal use.

Conduct of Defendant

In these type of situations, other facts and circumstances about their conduct will become crucial. For example, were they also in possession of a large amount of cash?  Did they also have baggies, scales, or other paraphernalia typically involved with selling narcotics?

A common tactic by law enforcement is to seize their cell phone in order to review the pattern of calls, text messages, or social media interaction that would give them evidence they were in fact setting up drug transactions with potential buyers?

It’s also common for law enforcement to have set up surveillance on a defendant prior to their arrest. Was the evidence obtained from this surveillance consistent with drug sales? For example, were there several people coming and going from their home in all hours of the night?

Federal Criminal Lawyer Creating Reasonable Doubt

In situations where it’s a borderline case, presentation of evidence of an experienced federal criminal attorney that rely on these specific details discussed above, could potentially raise reasonable doubt that drug sales actually occurred.

Even in situations where a defendant was clearly engaged in federal drug trafficking and sales, a challenge over the quantity of drugs could be crucial to obtaining a favorable outcome through a plea bargain.

Particularly in federal courts, where outdated sentencing guidelines  can carry substantially increased penalties for a defendant based on the quantity of drugs involved in the case, it’s critical to aggressively litigate exactly what type and quantity of drugs was seized by federal law enforcement agents.

While this may seem like a straightforward matter as the illegal drug are weighed on a scale.  However, a seasoned criminal defense lawyer will be familiar with the type of situation where it’s not just a straightforward matter.

For example, there are often situations where the packaging used to hold the narcotics was included in the total weight, or where there were multiple substances, or different substance purities were involved.

In the end, all federal drug sales and trafficking cases will have unique facts and circumstances and the potential legal defenses will always depend on a thorough review of all the evidence obtained in discovery, along with an independent investigation by our law firm, which includes the possibility of a defense expert who is a specialist in federal drug crime cases.

Search and Seizure – Motion to Suppress

A recurring issue in federal drug trafficking and sales cases is search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects everyone from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Typically, warrants have to be obtained before searching someone or their home – but there are exceptions to this rule.  Whether an exception to the warrant requirement applies to your case has to be litigated in court through a motion to suppress.

If this motion is successful, it will normally result in the dismissal of the charges because all the evidence of a defendant’s possession of illegal narcotics will be deemed inadmissible in court.

If you or a family member has been accused of any type of federal drug trafficking, manufacturing, or sales, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841, contact our law firm a consultation. Our federal criminal defense attorneys defend clients nationwide.

Eisner Gorin LLP
1875 Century Park E #705
Los Angeles, CA 90067
877-781-1570

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