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Over the many years of representing clients in the Houston area, Federal Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson has handled the cases of many individuals charged with drug charges and or drug related offenses and have come to understand that good people fall into bad times and then bad situations. Sometimes people break the law because they wanted to provide a better life for their families. You begin to understand the forces that shape humans, and you better understand why and how someone could end up in the backseat of a cop car, and you want to help.
Houston Drug Possession Lawyer Charles Johnson sees more criminal cases involving drug charges than probably any other criminal offense aside from drunk driving. In times of economic depression people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of dealing with the stress of job loss and financial insecurity. It is no secret that until the United States Government treats drug use and abuse like a health issue instead of a crime there will always be a need for an Houston Drug Lawyer who specializes in helping people avoid jail time for drug possession charges, drug trafficking charges and/or other drug-related offenses. Our top ranked Federal Drug Lawyers are not only well-equipped to provide you with assistance through your Possession of a Controlled Substance case, but you will also find that they are also willing to listen to what you are going through without judgment or recrimination. We get that no one wakes up and decides to become a heroin or meth addict. It is the end result of a slippery slope that addicts and users have been sliding down for years.
If you are looking at Federal Level cocaine charges or heroin possession that also as related charges of “intent to distribute” or possibly other related offenses that elevate your drug crimes to the level of federal rather than local attention, you need to hire the experienced Houston Drug Trafficking Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm. There is a huge difference in not only the drug possession charges themselves, but how they must be handled. Courts are sometimes willing to overlook a possession of a controlled substance – even cocaine charges if the amounts imply a “personal use” and if it is your first offense. If your case involves not only a drug possession charge but also with intent to distribute, the courts are looking to put you away for a long time. Houston Drug Crimes Attorney Charles Johnson will mount an aggressive offense to suppress evidence, as well as paint you as a human being with a story that is worth listening to.
Those who have been arrested with large quantities of drugs are without a doubt seen automatically as villains, as opposed to those who have personal use levels. These individuals require that their drug offense lawyer suggest drug rehab or other inpatient program that will satisfy the courts that the person is taking the drug possession charge seriously. When, however, you have been arrested in Houston on drug charges that also involve drug trafficking or intent to distribute you must quickly move to mount an aggressive defense that looks to suppress evidence. The Charles Johnson Law Firm will work tirelessly to move to suppress, to push for discovery, and mount a strategic and hard-hitting defense. This is the type of Federal drug defense lawyer you need, not someone who is rushing from court to court handling arraignments and accepting the first plea deal an ADA throws out.
Moreover, you will find as you look around that many of the cheaper, flat-rate attorney’s are actually only marijuana attorney’s and not the type of aggressive drug defense lawyer who can stand up to the Feds and mount the type of defense that will see you back in your home watching the Superbowl next year. You don’t want to find out once it is too late that your drug lawyer has never handled a case of your size before. When you are looking for lawyers for drug charges, especially in cases of distribution or potential trafficking, you must find an experienced drug defense lawyer. Drug possession charges are one thing, drug distribution or trafficking is another. You need a skilled Federal Drug Trafficking Lawyer to handle this type of case.
Federal crimes such as those involving drug trafficking have high conviction rates. Without a dedicated, experienced Houston drug possession lawyer on your side you could very well be looking at a great deal of jail time for your drug-related offense. Houston Drug Attorney Charles Johnson will work aggressively to suppress evidence, create plea bargains or find grounds for dismissal. He will not rest until he finds some means of mitigating, lowering, or dismissing the charges against you. When you are seeking out lawyers for drug charges look to us!
That’s our promise to you. Call Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson today at 713-222-7577 to see how Houston’s #1 rated Criminal Firm can help your case. Attorney Johnson is directly available 24/7.
About Drug Trafficking
Drug trafficking is generally referred to as the manufacturing, transporting and distributing of large quantities of drugs. It often involves more than one person. Drug trafficking charges are wide and varied depending on the scope of the trafficking. Additionally, if the drug trafficking was directed towards minors, then prosecutors will seek enhancements to the charges. State and federal governments have adopted strict laws and severe penalties regarding the trafficking of drugs. Penalties can approach seven figures and decades in prison for severe cases. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson has proven how to successfully approach and handle these types of cases and he should be contacted immediately when an arrest is made for drug trafficking.
Drug Trafficking is probably the most charged offense in federal court and is also quite prevalent in state courts. Because of the severity of the sentences, evidence and all circumstances and conditions regarding your arrest will be thoroughly examined by the Charles Johnson Law Firm and their team of experienced investigators. Drug trafficking cases can be quite involved, and with the vast amounts of drugs coming in from Mexico, prosecutors are aggressively pursuing convictions.
Types of Drug Trafficking Laws
Drug trafficking laws vary by country and region, but generally include distribution, manufacturing, and dispensing certain categories of controlled substances. Usually, the drugs are classified according to type and the addictive nature of the drug. Highly addictive narcotics like heroin and crack typically fall into one class, while marijuana and prescription drugs are considered less harmful. International drug trafficking laws are commonly handled under customs law.
Possession of drugs with the intent to sell routinely falls under drug trafficking statutes. If someone is found with a large amount of narcotics, it may be presumed that he or she intends to distribute the drugs for money. Different regions determine how much and what kind of drug is considered outside limits for personal use. Penalties for violations of these drug trafficking laws are often based on the quantity of the substance and its type.
Those who manufacture drugs may be charged under drug trafficking laws in most places. These sections of the law typically include possession of chemicals or equipment needed to make the controlled substance. Narcotics laws in each country outline the exact chemicals or equipment considered illegal.
Drug trafficking laws may include a provision that allows law enforcement to seize assets used to commit a crime. For example, if drugs are sold from a house or vehicle, a judge may order that those assets be forfeited to the government. The property is typically sold at a public auction, with the proceeds going to fund narcotics operations.
Almost any scheduled narcotic can qualify for a drug trafficking charge. In state courts the amount of drugs (cocaine, cannabis, extasy, crystal meth, acid, heroine, prescription medication) will determine if a possession charges becomes a trafficking charge. Even if you are only going to used the drugs for your personal consumption, the amount that you possess could bring a trafficking charge. You may also qualify for a distribution charge if it appears that a small amount of drugs was packaged for distribution. Each state is different as to the amount necessary for the trafficking charge. Under the federal statute you can be charged for the amount you have and or the amount you were trying to buy from a government agent. You may never actually possess the drugs, but you will be charged.
Supplying drugs to children or using minors to distribute narcotics generally carries tougher penalties than those that apply to adults. In some areas, maintaining a home for the purpose of making or distributing drugs where children live is also considered a more serious drug trafficking offense. Stiffer sanctions might also be imposed for those who sell drugs near schools, playgrounds, arcades, and other areas where children congregate.
Laws also exist that regulate drug trafficking by criminal gangs or organized groups. Penalties might be enhanced if weapons are used in the distribution of a controlled substance. Those with profits from organized sales of narcotics can also be prosecuted under money laundering statutes in some jurisdictions.
Defenses for Drug Trafficking Charges
Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson will provide skilled advice and representation to clients facing state or federal drug charges. He is considered an expert when defending against charges related to:
- Interception of a drug shipment
- Drug conspiracy charges
- Interstate drug distribution
- Undercover interstate trafficking stings
- Illegal sale and trafficking of prescription drugs
- Illegal sale and trafficking of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine (meth), MDMA (Ecstasy)
Drug trafficking charges often hinge on the prosecution’s illegal search and seizure of your vehicle, undercover drug operations, and confidential informants who are attempting to make a deal. As an expert lawyer skilled in drug cases, Attorney Johnson will thoroughly investigate how the prosecution came upon the evidence collected and determine if the method of collecting the evidence is in violation of your constitutional rights.
The court will have no choice but to keep any illegally obtained evidence out of trial. Attorney Johnson’s ability to thoroughly investigate drug cases and vigorously challenge the factual and constitutional merits of the prosecution’s case has proven effective in his defense of clients facing drug trafficking charges involving cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine (meth) or prescription narcotics.
Even if the police find drugs directly in a person’s possession, the drugs and other evidence could be suppressed (thrown away) if the police did not follow the proper procedures required under the U.S. Constitution. One of the first things Attorney Johnson will look for when defending someone accused of a drug offense is whether the police themselves acted in a legal manner. Other defenses include areas such as whether the actual weight of the substance was correct when allowing for hydration, whether the chemical composition of the substance was correct as charged, whether there was joint or constructive possession of the substance which could subject the case to a Motion to Dismiss and whether the accused was entrapped into committing the offense by law enforcement or one of its informants.
Another possible defense for drug trafficking charges would involve a violation of constitutional right to counsel and right to remain silent. Once charged or in custody, you are required to be informed of your rights and given access to legal representation if you request it. Contact Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson immediately upon arrest before saying anything that could be used against you in the future. This can often mean the difference between a conviction and walking away free of any charges. You would be surprised at how many cases result in a conviction due largely to statements made by the accused.
Other possible defenses may include:
- Lack of knowledge
- Mistake of fact (For example, thinking the drug was sugar when in fact, it was cocaine.)
- Duress (For example, if Bob was forced to transport the cocaine because if he refused, something bad would happen to his family.)
- The substance was not intended for human consumption
Lastly, Federal Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson will determine if inappropriate charges were filed. Drug trafficking is a highly political issue, and you may find yourself facing inflated charges. The right attorney can insure that any charges you do face are appropriate to the acts alleged by the prosecutor.
At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we have the experience and know-how to guide you through this complicated process from the moment of your arrest through trial, if necessary.
The defense of drug-related crimes can be difficult and complex and requires an attorney with special skills, experience and knowledge. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is highly qualified to defend your case. Whether it is identifying a drug addiction issue so that we may assist in getting them treatment or counseling, negotiating a fair resolution in an effort to have charges or a sentence reduced or preparing and taking a case to trial, the Best Houston Criminal Lawyer is available to assist and defend you.
As an extremely experienced criminal lawyer specializing in drug cases at both the Federal and State level, Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is well aware of the strategies, theories and methods employed by prosecutors when they prosecute a drug case. Attorney Johnson will use this knowledge to his client’s advantage while defending their cases to get the best possible outcome on their behalf.
We are proud to represent and care about our clients. We know the devastation that a drug conviction, an addiction or incarceration for a drug offense can bring to an individual or his/her family. We will answer your questions and guide you through the whole process, working to take away some of the confusion and uncertainty that comes along any drug offense charge, while all along seeking the most favorable outcome for you or your loved one.
Drug Trafficking by Criminal Gangs
There are nearly 1 million active gang members in the United States, based on analysis of federal, state, and local data, and the involvement of criminal gangs in domestic drug trafficking is becoming increasingly complex. Since 2001, many gangs have advanced beyond their traditional role as local retail drug distributors in large cities to become more organized, adaptable, deliberate, and influential in large-scale drug trafficking. Much of their growing influence has come at the expense of local independent dealers and small local criminal groups who cannot compete with gangs that establish control in smaller drug markets.
The influence of Hispanic and African American street gangs is expanding as these gangs gain greater control over drug distribution in rural and suburban areas and acquire drugs directly from Drug Trafficking Organizations (“DTOs”) in Mexico or along the Southwest Border.
In 2009, midlevel and retail drug distribution in the United States was dominated by more than 900,000 criminally active gang members representing approximately 20,000 domestic street gangs in more than 2,500 cities. These street gangs vary greatly with respect to their ethnic or racial identities, the types and amounts of drugs that they distribute, their strength and influence, and their adaptability. Their prevalence varies geographically, with the greatest concentration of street gangs occurring in the Great Lakes, Pacific, Southeast, and Southwest Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Regions.
Many Hispanic and, to a lesser extent, African American gangs are gaining control over drug distribution outside urban areas that were previously supplied by local independent dealers or small local criminal groups. Around 2007, Hispanic and African American gangs throughout the country, but especially in the Southwest and Great Lakes Regions, began to command greater influence over drug distribution in many rural and suburban areas. This trend continued in 2009. For example, in 2009, the Avenues street gang based in Los Angeles, California, expanded its operations to distribute drugs in suburban and rural locations throughout southern California.
To increase their control over drug trafficking in smaller markets, street gangs have been increasingly acquiring larger wholesale quantities of drugs at lower prices directly from DTOs in Mexico and along the Southwest Border. Several Southwest Border street gangs, such as Shelltown 38th Street, Tri-City Bombers, and Vallucos, smuggle wholesale quantities of drugs obtained in Mexico into the United States. By purchasing directly from Mexican wholesale sources in Mexico or along the Southwest Border, gangs throughout the country realize cost savings that enable them to sell drugs at lower prices than local independent dealers in small communities, driving these dealers out of business. For example, members of the Chicago-based Latin Kings street gang who operate in Midland, Texas, purchase cocaine from Mexican traffickers in south Texas for $16,000 to $18,000 per kilogram, compared with $25,000 to $35,000 per kilogram from wholesale traffickers in Chicago. With this savings, the gang undersells other local dealers who do not have the capacity to buy large wholesale quantities directly from Mexican DTOs in Mexico or along the Southwest Border.
Hispanic prison gangs, primarily in Southwest Border states, are gaining strength by working directly with Mexican DTOs to acquire wholesale quantities of drugs and by controlling most street gangs in areas along the Southwest Border.
Prison gangs are active in all 50 states and are increasing their influence over drug trafficking in areas along the Southwest Border (see Table B4 in Appendix B). Prior to 2001, the criminal influence of prison gangs was limited primarily to retail-level drug distribution. However, since that time, Hispanic prison gangs have become increasingly involved in the transportation and wholesale distribution of drugs.
Hispanic prison gangs such as Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos (HPL) and Raza Unida operating in Southwest Border states have increased their involvement in wholesale drug distribution activities through cooperative relationships with Mexican DTOs. Through these relationships, Hispanic prison gangs are able to gain access to wholesale quantities of drugs. For example, in September 2009, 21 members of HPL were convicted in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) of conspiring to distribute more than 150 kilograms of cocaine and laundering millions of dollars in drug proceeds. In April 2009, 15 members and associates of the Raza Unida prison gang were indicted for trafficking multikilogram quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine weekly in McAllen and Houston, Texas.
To ensure a consistent profit stream from the wholesale drugs that they purchase from Mexican DTOs, Hispanic prison gangs distribute drugs through street gangs that they largely, if not entirely, control. Through force or intimidation, Hispanic prison gangs exercise significant control over local gangs that distribute their drugs in the Southwest Border region. For example, Barrio Azteca prison gang members operating in El Paso, Texas, collect drug payments and taxes from 47 street-level gangs and independent drug dealers trafficking drugs in El Paso.
Potential Penalties for Drug Trafficking
The penalties for drug trafficking offenses vary and depend on a number of factors. These include the type and amount of illegal drugs (also called “controlled substances”) found in a person’s possession, whether the person is a repeat offender and the state in which the person is charged.
Drug trafficking or distribution in Texas is a felony upon which a wide range of penalties may be imposed. It may be anywhere from a state jail felony, which carries the lightest sentence, to a first degree felony, which carries the harshest. The factors influencing which sentence will be imposed are: (1) the amount of the drug being distributed or delivered; and (2) the type of drug and which of the four groups of drugs it is classified under. The smaller the amount of a drug in a certain group, the lighter the sentence may be.
Texas has some very heavy penalties for drug trafficking. Prosecutors may often offer plea deals to defendants where they may offer a charge with a lesser penalty in exchange for information that would help them gather evidence for a higher priority investigation.
The sentences involved may range anywhere from 180 days to two years in state jail and/or a fine of no more than $10,000 for a state jail felony, to life in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or a term of 15 to 99 years in prison and/or a fine of not more than $250,000 for the heaviest first degree felony. The harshness of the sentence imposed depends on how much of the drug is being trafficked. For example, trafficking or distributing less than one gram of a substance in the first grouping of drugs carries a state jail felony charge, whereas trafficking 400 grams or more of any one of the same drugs carries a first degree felony charge that may include a life sentence.
At the Federal level, the Controlled Substances Act (PL 91-513, 1970, last amended in 2000) provides penalties for the unlawful manufacture, distribution, and dispensing (or trafficking) of controlled substances, based on the schedule (rank) of the drug or substance. Generally, the more dangerous the drug and the larger the quantity involved, the stiffer the penalty. Trafficking of heroin, cocaine, LSD, and PCP, all Schedule I or II drugs (see Table 2.1 in Chapter 2), includes mandatory jail time and fines. A person caught selling at least five hundred grams but less than five kilograms of cocaine powder (seventeen ounces to just under eleven pounds) will receive a minimum of five years in prison and may be fined up to $2 million for a first offense. (See Table 6.1.) The same penalty is imposed for the sale of five to forty-nine grams of cocaine base (“crack”). Five grams are equal to the weight of six plain M&Ms candies, and forty-nine grams are a little more than a bag of M&Ms candies (47.9 grams). The high penalty for selling crack is an expression of the unusual severity with which legislators are trying to curb the use of this drug.
Penalties double with the second offense to ten years in prison and up to $4 million in fines. When higher quantities are involved (five or more kilograms of cocaine powder, fifty grams or more of crack, etc.), penalties for the first offense are ten years, and fines up to $4 million may be levied. For the second offense, twenty years and up to $8 million in fines are given, and the third offense results in mandatory life imprisonment. These examples are for an individual. Higher penalties apply if an organized group is involved or if a death or injury is associated with the arrest event.
These penalties apply also to the sale of fentanyl (a powerful painkiller medicine) or like-acting drugs, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, and PCP. The smallest amount, which can earn someone a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million, involves trafficking in LSD, where a one-gram amount carries a five-year minimum sentence in prison.
Special penalties exist for marijuana trafficking, since it may be traded in large quantities or grown in substantial amounts. The lower the amounts sold or the fewer the plants grown, the lower the sentence. A person cultivating one to forty-nine plants or selling less than fifty kilograms of marijuana mixture, ten kilograms or less of hashish, or one kilogram or less of hashish oil may get a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentences for second offenses involving large amounts of marijuana may earn the trafficker up to life imprisonment.
The penalties for drug trafficking are harsh, and reflect the seriousness of this felony offense and the current political climate. A conviction can lead to jail time, forfeiture of property and fines, but that is only part of the story. It places your current employment in jeopardy, places a severe emotional strain on you and your family, adversely affects your ability to find new work, and places your entire future at risk.
Hire the Best Houston Drug Trafficking Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
A drug trafficking conviction can have an extremely adverse effect on a person’s current and future life in many regards. Both state and federal prosecutors have their eye on a conviction of the most severe charges possible and not on your rights. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson will work diligently with prosecutors regarding any circumstances or conditions that could result in charges being dropped or reduced. If necessary, our firm can take your case to court and present a strong defense on your behalf.
The Charles Johnson Law Firm expertly handles all types of Texas drug-related offenses, from the less severe, like simple possession of a small amount of certain drugs, to the more serious ones, such as participating in an organized drug trafficking business with sale, distribution and manufacturing activities. We also defend charges involving controlled substances, such as, marijuana, crack, paraphernalia, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamines (meth), hallucinogens such as LSD, oxycontin, oxycodone, hydrocode, xanax, and Rohypnol club drugs. We represent all levels of people charged with drug offenses, from the student or small time person, to the professional, medical doctor or person accused of being a large scale distributor or trafficker.
If you have been arrested for drug trafficking in Houston, TX, take fast action with a skilled and resourceful Houston Criminal Lawyer. Contact the Charles Johnson Law Firm immediately anytime night or day for a free phone consultation to discuss your case.
Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson can be reached directly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
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Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is a Federal Drug Defense Attorney. He represents clients who have been charged or are about to be charged with drug charges in Federal Court. The Charles Johnson Law Firm has earned an international reputation as a Leading Federal Drug Law Firm.
Regardless of the federal or international drug charge, Federal Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson has the drug defense experience to handle your case. He has successfully handled sophisticated drug defense cases that included Trafficking, Importation, Distribution and many others. When faced with a federal drug crime there is absolutely no substitute for experience. If you have been charged with drug crime and need a Federal Drug Defense Attorney, contact Attorney Johnson directly anytime night or day at (713) 222-7577. In Federal and International Drug Defense, experience makes the difference.
Federal Drug Crimes Overview
The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, also known as the Controlled Substances Act, classifies narcotics, marijuana and other drugs into five categories, or Schedules. Besides establishing requirements relating to manufacture and distribution of drugs, the law also defines penalties for violations of the Act. Depending on the nature and quantity of the substance involved, as well as the presence of sentence-enhancing factors, the criminal penalties can be severe. If you are facing federal drug charges, call Federal Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson for advice on the law, your rights and how to proceed. He is available around the clock to take your call.
Offenses at the Federal Level
Federal drug offenses differ from those at the state level, even though the conduct in question might be the same. In defining crimes, Congress’ authority comes from its Constitutionally-granted powers over the areas of commerce, taxation and the postal service.
Some of the drug crimes under the Controlled Substances Act include:
- Drug trafficking: manufacturing, distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute illicit drugs
- Manufacturing: operating places for the purposes of manufacturing, distributing or using illicit drugs, or endangering human life while so doing
- Continuing criminal enterprise crimes: trafficking in illicit drugs by a person in concert with five or more other persons
- Conspiracy: involves attempts and the promoting and facilitating of manufacture, distribution or importation of illicit drugs
- Protected location offenses: distributing illicit drugs to persons under age 21 or within a school or playground zone; employing persons under age 18 in drug operations
- Simple possession: possessing controlled substances without a valid prescription from a licensed medical practitioner (unlike trafficking, simple possession does not involve intent to distribute the drugs)
Other drug offenses under the Act include investing illicit drug profits in businesses affecting interstate commerce and unauthorized importation of controlled substances. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces the federal controlled substances laws and regulations.
In addition, drug crimes at the federal level may include violations of tax law, such as tax evasion, or engaging in activities prohibited by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Federal drug laws specify minimum and maximum terms of imprisonment, based on the type and quantity of drug involved. Likewise, under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, these factors are taken into account, along with:
- Whether the offense involved injury to another person
- Whether a weapon was possessed or used
- The defendant’s criminal history
While judges have discretion to depart from sentencing guidelines, they must still stay within the mandatory minimum and maximum terms specified by statute. Where the offense occurs in a school or other protected zone, penalties may be enhanced.
Hire the Best Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Drug crimes can be charged and prosecuted under federal law, state law or both. Because federal drug crimes can carry significantly harsher penalties, it is important to contact a knowledgeable lawyer who is familiar with both federal and state drug laws. If you are facing either federal or state drug charges, call Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson now at (713) 222-7577. He can explain the intricacies of both systems and vigorously represent your interests.
Charged with a Federal Crime? What To Expect
The following is a short summary of what you can expect if charged with a Federal Crime.
By the time you read this material, you or your loved one will have already entered the Federal Criminal Justice System. Whether you are in custody or in the “free world”, one firm rule applies: Do not discuss your case with anyone but your lawyer. Anything you say can and will be used against you. This is true whether you talk to a police officer, a person you just met in a holding cell, or a “friend”.
RELEASE OR DETENTION
The first thing to worry about is whether you are going to be released while waiting for trial. There is no bond set automatically in federal court. Your family cannot simply pay a bondsman to get you out.
Court Appearance: If you were arrested and taken into custody, you will soon appear before a United States Magistrate Judge. This is not the District Judge that will hear your trial. This Magistrate Judge will decide if there are any conditions that would allow your release.
Pretrial Report: In order to assist the Magistrate Judge, a Pretrial Services Officer will interview you and give the Magistrate Judge a written report about your background and criminal history. The Officer will not ask you about the facts of your case and you should not volunteer any information. If you lie to the Officer, it will hurt you later on.
Chance for Release: You are most likely to be released if you have little or no criminal history, if you have solid employment and family ties in your community, if you are a United States Citizen, and if you are not charged with a serious drug trafficking offense or crime of violence. Even if you are not a good risk for release, the Magistrate Judge must still hold a hearing and find reasons to keep you in custody. The only time this hearing is unnecessary is when you are being held in custody for other reasons — such as a sentence in another case, a parole warrant, or a probation revocation warrant.
When you are facing criminal charges, your choice of legal representation is a critical issue. You must ensure that you have legal representation from a proven attorney with a record of successfully defending difficult cases.
In order to protect your rights and to fight a possible Federal drug conviction, it is very important to hire the Best Federal Lawyer you can find. Your future is at stake, and this is not a time to cut corners. A knowledgeable Drug Crime Defense Lawyer will be able to sort out the details of your drug crime charges and diligently work to provide evidence that will benefit you. At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we have been successful at lowering or dismissing charges against our clients and will look to do the same for you. To counteract the aggressive investigation and prosecution from the federal government, you will need an equally aggressive criminal defense attorney. Federal Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson understands federal drug crime cases inside and out and will provide an unmatched dedication, commitment and an aggressive approach when defending your case.
Honesty: Defendants often believe it is better not to tell their lawyers the truth about their case. This is not a good idea. Everything you tell your lawyer is privileged and cannot be told to others. The best defense is one that prepares for all the bad evidence the prosecutor may present against you at your trial. Your lawyer must know all the facts. It is foolish to ignore the dangers and simply hope everything will turn out all right. That is the sure way to be convicted.
Bad Advice: If you are in custody, you will probably get a lot of free advice from other inmates. Unfortunately, much of that advice will be wrong. Many of the other inmates are in state custody and know nothing about federal criminal law. Even the ones facing federal charges may give you bad advice; they may not know any better, or they want to mislead you.
Respect: Treat your lawyer with respect and that respect will be returned to you. Lawyers are human beings who tend to work harder for clients who do not mistreat them.
When people talk about “rights” in the federal criminal justice system, they are usually talking about the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution. These rights include freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to remain silent, the right to legal counsel, due process of law, equal protection under the law, protection from double jeopardy, a speedy and public trial, the ability to confront one’s accusers, subpoenas for witnesses, no excessive bail, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.
Caselaw: There are many books and thousands of cases that discuss what these rights mean. The law is always changing. A court opinion written in 1934 by a Montana court of appeals is probably no help in your case. Your case will mostly be affected by recent published opinions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.
Application: Not all of these rights apply in all cases. If you never made a statement to the police, then it will not matter whether you were told of your right to remain silent. If you consented to a search of your car, then it will not make a difference whether the police had a search warrant.
There are no benefits to being locked up. Jail has many rules and regulations. Some of those rules are made by the jailers. Some of these rules are made by the United States Marshal.
Clothing: You can get clothing two ways. The way to get underwear, tennis shoes, socks, etc, is to buy them through the jail commissary. Despite what others tell you, your lawyer cannot simply bring you these items. In most instances, trial clothing can be brought to the U.S. Marshal’s office shortly before your court appearance. You will be allowed to change in the holding cell at the federal courthouse.
Other Possessions: Sometimes the jail may allow you to receive magazines by subscription or books mailed from a store. It depends on the jail’s rules. Most other items need to be purchased through the commissary. All jails prohibit your lawyer from bringing you any items, such as cigarettes. You may keep legal documents in your possession.
Visits: Your friends and relatives must follow the jail’s rules when making appointments to visit you. You must put the names of these persons on your visitation list.
At some point you will come to court for an arraignment. This is the time when you enter a plea of “Not Guilty”.
Indictment: Before the arraignment, you will have been indicted by a Grand Jury. Neither you, nor your attorney, has a right to be present at the Grand Jury session. A Grand Jury decides if there is enough evidence to have a trial in your case. If there is not, then the case is dismissed. If there is, the Grand Jury issues an Indictment. An Indictment is the document that states what the charges against you are. The Grand Jury sessions are rarely transcribed, so it is usually not possible to receive a transcript of their sessions.
Hearing: The arraignment takesplace before a Magistrate Judge,notthe DistrictJudge who will hear your case. The Magistrate Judge will ask you several questions:
- Do you understand what you are charged with?;
- Do you understand the potential penalties if you are convicted?; and
- How do you plead to the charges?
Since you will have discussed the case with your lawyer by this time, you will be able to answer the first two questions “Yes”. Your answer to the third question is “Not Guilty”. You cannot plead “Guilty” at an arraignment. Pleading “Not Guilty” will never be used against you.
Discovery: Federal law provides only limited access to the government’s evidence against you. Under local rules, you and your attorney are permitted to have copies of only certain types of documents in the government’s file. The rules of discovery must be strictly adhered to, and your attorney will discuss these rules with you more thoroughly as your case progresses.
Motions: Before or after investigating your case, your attorney may feel it appropriate to file a motion(s), which may be heard before or at trial. You should never file your own motions without fully discussing the proper procedures with your attorney. If you have ideas about specific motions that could be filed your case, you should discuss with your attorney whether those particular motions would be appropriate or beneficial to your defense.
Many defendants want a quick trial. This is usually for two reasons. First, defendants who are in custody want to get out of the county jail as soon as possible. Second, defendants believe that if they are not tried within the Speedy Trial Act’s 70-day time limit, then their cases will be dismissed.
Pretrial Detention: There is no question that conditions in the county jail are not good. However, a defendant is rarely ever helped by going to trial as soon as possible. The prosecutor is prepared to try the case when it is filed. Your lawyer is only then beginning to investigate the case. Your lawyer does not have access to offense reports of the law enforcement officers that have already investigated the case. Also, “aging” a case has other benefits — the case becomes less important over time, witnesses’ memories fade, etc.
Dismissal: There are many exceptions to the Speedy Trial Act. Generally, a prosecutor can get a continuance of the trial whenever requested. The usual reason why a prosecutor requests a continuance is because there are codefendants who have not been arrested yet. The speedy trial deadlines do not begin to run until all charged defendants have appeared in court. Also, any time any of the defendants file motions, the time until those motions are decided is not counted toward the speedy trial deadline.
A felony trial in federal court is decided by twelve jurors. The jurors only decide if you are “Guilty” or “Not Guilty” of the charges in the Indictment. Jurors do not decide punishment. The District Judge decides punishment.
Jury Selection: The trial begins with the selection of the jury. A panel of potential jurors is called to court from voter registration lists. The District Judge, the prosecutor, and your lawyer talk to the panel and ask questions. The lawyers are allowed to keep certain members of the panel from sitting on the jury. The first twelve of the remaining panel members become jurors.
Opening Statements: Before the evidence is presented, the lawyers may make opening statements. Opening statements are when the lawyers tell the jury what they believe the evidence will show.
Order of Proof: The prosecutor presents evidence first. You are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You do not have to present any evidence or testify. If your lawyer does put on evidence, it will happen after the prosecutor has finished presenting evidence.
Rules: During the trial, the lawyers must follow the rules of evidence and procedure. These rules are complicated. The rules can both help and hurt you. For instance, the rule against hearsay evidence prohibits a prosecutor from calling a witness to testify how he heard about what you did. The same rule will stop your lawyer from introducing an affidavit made by some person who is unwilling to come to court and testify.
Prior Acts: Although you are only on trial for the charges in the Indictment, there are two ways the jury can learn about other accusations against you. First, if you testify then the prosecutor will be able to introduce your prior convictions. Second, the prosecutor can introduce your prior acts –even if they are not convictions — if they are similar to the crime you are charged with (for example, prior drug sales in a drug distribution case).
Final Arguments: After all the evidence has been presented, the lawyers argue the facts to the jury.
Jury Deliberations: Jurors are usually average working people from the community. They are not specially trained in law. They use their common sense when deciding the case. Although the District Judge will instruct them about “the presumption of innocence” and “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”, jurors rely on many things in coming to a decision in a case. Jurors often rely on things such as: the appearance of the defendant, the defendant’s character, and their own biases and prejudices. They cannot be questioned about how they reached their decision.
Verdict: If you are found “Not Guilty”, you will be released. If there is a “Guilty” verdict, then the District Judge will order the Probation Department to prepare a Presentence Investigation Report to assist the District Judge at sentencing. It takes approximately two months between a conviction and sentencing.
Release: If you were previously on pretrial release,the District Judge may continue thatrelease until sentencing, unless you were convicted of a crime of violence or a serious drug trafficking offense.
Statistics show that most defendants plead guilty. You make the decision to plead guilty. That decision is never simple. Some possible benefits of a guilty plea are that:
- the prosecutor may dismiss some charges;
- the prosecutor may not file new charges;
- the prosecutor may recommend a favorable sentence;
- you may get credit for accepting responsibility, etc.
Plea Agreement: Any promises the prosecutor makes for your guilty plea will be stated in a written plea agreement. That agreement is signed by you, your lawyer, and the prosecutor.
Plea Hearing: You must enter a guilty plea in court before the District Judge. The District Judge must ask you many questions so the record shows you understand what you are doing. During the hearing, the prosecutor will briefly tell the District Judge the facts of the case. You must agree to those facts for the District Judge to accept your guilty plea.
Effect of Plea: Once the District Judge accepts your guilty plea, you are just as guilty as if a jury returned that verdict. Once you are convicted of a felony, you lose certain civil rights, including the right to vote; the right to sit on a jury; and the right to possess firearms.
After Plea: The procedure after a guilty plea is the same as after a conviction at trial. A Presentence Investigation Report will be ordered and you will either be released or detained until sentencing (see “Trial” section).
Some defendants give prosecutors information against other persons for the possibility of a reduced sentence. There is no guarantee that a defendant will get a lower sentence for “giving people up”. Cooperation usually requires a defendant to testify in court or before a Grand Jury.
Many times, federal defendants are first arrested by state officers on state charges. Sometimes, even when federal charges are filed, the state charges are not dismissed. It is possible to be convicted of both state and federal charges for the exact same offense. This is not “double jeopardy”. It is also possible to receive “stacked time” (a consecutive sentence), by pleading guilty to an unrelated state or federal case before being convicted in your federal case. Be careful not to do anything about your other cases without telling your attorney. If you are summoned to “jail call”, do not agree to plead guilty to your state charge in exchange for “time served” without telling your lawyer. Despite what the state prosecutor may tell you, this conviction will affect your federal sentence.
Sentencing takes place approximately three (3) -six (6) months after you have been convicted by a jury or guilty plea. The District Judge decides the sentence. Unlike state court, you cannot simply agree with the prosecutor to serve a particular amount of time or probation.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines: The District Judge decides your sentence based upon a book called the “Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual”. That book works on a point system. You get points for the seriousness of the offense and your role in the offense. Points may be subtracted if you accept responsibility for the offense or if you were only a minor participant. The Manual also considers your criminal history. Your criminal history is the record of your prior convictions in state and federal courts. A chart at the back of the Manual determines your sentencing guideline range, based upon your criminal history points and the points you received for the offense conduct.
Mandatory Minimum Punishments: Some drug and firearms cases have mandatory minimum punishments. These minimum punishments apply even if the Federal Sentencing Guidelines would otherwise give you a lower sentence. For instance, anyone possessing over 280 grams of crack cocaine after August 3 2010, with the intent to deliver it, must receive at least ten (10) years in prison; even if that person is a first offender.
Departures: If the District Judge sentences you to more or less time than your sentencing guideline range, it is called a “departure”. Departures are unusual. The District Judge must have a good legal reason for a departure. The District Judge cannot depart downward below a mandatory minimum punishment, unless the reason is that you have provided substantial assistance to the government in the prosecution of others or you qualify for the “safety valve” provision as a first offender. Only drug cases qualify for the “safety valve”.
Presentence Investigation Report: Before the sentencing hearing,the District Judge will review a Presentence Investigation Report prepared by a Probation Officer. That report summarizes the offense conduct, your criminal history, and other relevant background information about you. Most importantly, the report calculates a range of punishment for the District Judge to consider in your case. The Probation Officer creates the report based upon information from the prosecutor, independent investigation, and an interview with you in the presence of your lawyer.
Interview: It is important to be honest with the Probation Officer at the presentence interview. If you mislead the officer you may increase your sentence for “obstruction of justice”. Also, you will not get credit for accepting responsibility unless you talk truthfully about your crime. Do not talk about any other conduct for which you have not been convicted, unless your lawyer tells you to.
Objections: Before the District Judge gets the Presentence Investigation Report, it will be sent to your lawyer. The probation office will also mail a copy directly to you for your inspection. Review it carefully. If there is anything incorrect about the report, your lawyer can file objections. Some mistakes are more important than others. If the report says your car is red rather than blue, that is probably not important. If the report says you have five (5) prior felonies when you do not, that is important.
Sentencing Hearing: At the sentencing hearing, the District Judge will review your objections to the Presentence Investigation Report and make findings about any facts or legal issues that cannot be agreed upon. Your lawyer will address the legal issues and point out the facts in your favor. District Judges do not want to hear from witnesses who are just there to plead for a reduced sentence. Letters of recommendation and other helpful evidence should be provided to your lawyer well before sentencing so the District Judge can see them before the hearing. Before the District Judge pronounces sentence, you can make a statement.
Concurrent and Consecutive Sentences: No area of law is more confusing to defendants and lawyers than whether multiple sentences (more than one) may be served at the same time (concurrent) or one after another (consecutive).
Present Charges: If your federal Indictment has several related charges, and you are convicted of them, you probably will serve these sentences at the same time. However, it is possible for the District Judge to “stack” unrelated convictions so each must be served before another begins.
Other Charges: Sometimes a defendant is already serving a sentence before being convicted in a federal court. Unless the District Judge specifically orders the new sentence to run at the same time as the previous sentence, they will be stacked and will run consecutively. You would have to finish your other sentence before the new one begins. Even if the District Judge runs the new sentence at the same time as your previous sentence, you will not get credit for the time you served prior to sentencing.
If you were on release until sentencing, you may be allowed voluntary surrender. This means about 45 days later you report directly to the federal prison designated for sentence. Otherwise, you would go directly into custody if you received a prison sentence.
An appeal is not a new trial. An appeal is a review of your case by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. You may only appeal after you have been sentenced. A notice of appeal must be filed within 10 days after judgment (your sentencing order) is entered, or you lose that right. Transcripts of all testimony, and all the legal documents in your case, are sent to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals decides whether the District Judge made any mistakes in ruling on the law in your case. If the Court of Appeals decides there were some important mistakes made by the District Judge in your case, the usual remedy is that you will be allowed to have a new trial or a new sentence. That is called a “reversal”. It does not happen often. It is nearly impossible to be released while your appeal is being decided. The decision to appeal should be made only after a careful discussion with your lawyer. The Fifth Circuit is strict about accepting cases that raise legitimate issues. A claim that you received “too much time” will not prevail in the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit will dismiss your appeal if you do not present an issue they consider meritorious. Also, you and your lawyer can be sanctioned (punished) if you present a “frivolous” issue on appeal.
Probation means your term of imprisonment is suspended, you must follow restrictive conditions, and report to a probation officer. Probation is not available for federal drug trafficking crimes. Except for minor fraud cases, most federal defendants do not get probation. “Shock Incarceration” or “Boot Camp” is not probation. That is a military discipline program followed by time in a halfway house. It is available mostly to young, nonviolent, first-time offenders.
Most defendants who are sentenced to prison go directly into custody or continue to remain in custody. Where the sentence will be served depends on several factors.
State Custody: If the reason you first came into custody was a state charge, parole warrant, or probation revocation warrant, then you are in state custody, not federal custody. Neither the United States Marshal, nor the District Judge, has the authority to take you from state custody so that you may begin serving your sentence in a federal institution. This means you will remain in the county jail, or the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, until your State of Texas (or whatever other jurisdiction you owe time) sentence is completely served. Even if you got a federal sentence that is to run at the same time as your previous sentences (see “Sentencing” section), you will do that time in the other jurisdiction’s prison.
Jail Credit: In the federal system, the district judge does not have the authority to award jail credit at your sentencing hearing. See United States v. Wilson , 112 S.Ct. 1351 (1992); 18 U.S.C. §3585(b). Under the statute giving a defendant convicted of federal crime the right to be credited for time spent in official detention before sentence begins, the Attorney General is required to compute credit after the defendant has begun to serve his sentence, rather than the district court at time of sentencing. Statute giving defendant convicted of federal crime right to receive credit for time spent in official detention before sentence begins does not authorize district court to award credit at sentencing.
Federal Custody: You are in federal custody if you were brought in on a federal warrant. It does not matter that you are being held in the county jail or that state charges or revocations are later filed. It is always better to be in federal custody, because the State of Texas will give you credit for serving your state sentences no matter who has custody of you.
Designation: If you are in federal custody, then a federal institution must be designated for your sentence. This designation takes about one (1) month and is made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. During that month, you will probably remain in a county jail. The decision about where you will go depends upon the seriousness of the crime, your criminal history, the location of your family, among other things. A recommendation by the District Judge to send you to a particular place is not binding on the Bureau of Prisons.
Good Time Credit: The Bureau of Prisons can give you up to 54 days a year of “Good Time Credit”. This is time subtracted from your sentence. The credit is a privilege for good behavior, not a right. It does not begin to be counted until after your first year in prison.
Release: There is no parole in the federal criminal justice system. You will serve the majority of your sentence, minus Good Time Credit. You will receive a term of supervised release that begins after you are released. Like probation or parole, supervised release means you have to follow rules and report back to a probation officer. Violating supervised release can mean going back to prison.
You must use your own judgment about writing letters. You should not write about the facts of your case to anyone other than your lawyer. If you have any questions about your case or suggestions about it, you should contact your attorney immediately.
Federal Drug Charges in Houston, TX
Houston is in a unique position because of its convenient location. It is a criminal hotbed for illegal drug activity and because of its reputation, law enforcement; the FBI and the DEA are on high alert when it comes to detecting and convicting those guilty of trafficking or other federal drug crimes. Because drug activity is so rampant in Texas, the state has exceptionally harsh penalties for those who commit federal drug crimes. How one is prosecuted will depend on whether or not they have any priors on their record, the type of drug, and the quantity. A prison sentence for a federal drug crime can be as little as five years or it can be as long as life in prison.
The state of Texas has long been involved in a “war on drugs.” Federal prosecutors in the state of Texas come down hard on criminals involved in selling, distributing and trafficking large amounts of drugs. Not only do you face years in prison if convicted, non-citizens face deportation from the United States. At The Charles Johnson Law Firm, we are here to defend you against Federal Drug Charges.
Houston Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson comprehends the differential factor between State and Federal drug crimes. If in fact you or a loved one are under investigation for a drug crime, or if you have been apprehended for or charged with a drug crime in Texas or Houston, you could face harsher punishment than you expect. If you or a loved one’s alleged crime is based upon large amounts of illegal drugs, transporting or distributing drugs over state lines or over and across the border, or other specific details, you could face federal drug crime charges rather than state charges.
The significant thing to know pertaining federal drug crimes is that a conviction will carry a much harsher punishment, a longer mandatory at the very least sentence, and the possibility of no bond or bail. Attorney Johnson defends cases at the Federal Level that involve drug crimes such as:
- Federal drug trafficking
- Federal drug manufacturing
- Federal drug sales and distribution
- Internet drug distribution
- Federal drug importation and transportation
- Mailing drugs over and across state lines or national borders
- Drug smuggling into or out of the United States
- Other crimes related to drugs and money laundering
Contact Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson anytime night or day to discuss your case. You can speak with him directly by calling (713) 222-7577. If in fact you or a loved one think you are part of a federal drug investigation, don’t wait to contact a lawyer you can trust. Rest assured that The Charles Johnson Law Firm will zealously defend you against any type of Federal Drug Charge.
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A charge of drug conspiracy or intent to distribute drugs carries much harsher penalties than a drug-possession charge. Federal and state drug laws are more strict when the prosecutor has reason to believe that a drug sale or distribution was going to occur.
The Charles Johnson Law Firm, located in Houston, TX, is experienced in defending against drug conspiracy and intent to distribute charges. Contact Houston Criminal Lawyer Johnson anytime day or night to speak with a skilled attorney who has a proven record of success with drug cases.
Intent to Distribute Drugs Criminal Defense
Possession of a large amount of cash, baggies, paraphernalia or a scale all could lead to a charge of drug conspiracy or intent to sell drugs. The prosecutor will use that evidence to argue your possession could only mean you had the intent to distribute the drugs to someone else.
With our significant criminal defense experience in federal and state court, we know how to prepare a successful defense against drug crimes. We may be able to challenge the search or seizure to suppress the evidence against you if you are charged with intent to distribute the following drugs:
- Meth or methamphetamine
- Prescription drugs
If the evidence against you was lawfully obtained, Houston Drug Lawyer Johnson is also an experienced negotiator. Through negotiating and plea-bargaining, you may receive a less-serious punishment or an alternative punishment. Either in trial or in negotiations with the prosecutor, Attorney Johnson will provide personalized service aimed at obtaining an outcome favorable to your situation.
Experienced Drug Crimes Defense Attorney
With a thorough investigation and aggressive defense, we pursue the dismissal or reduction of the charges. Our goal is to preserve your freedom while minimizing any jail time or fines.
Definition of Conspiracy
A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime, and in order for a conspiracy to exist, the conspirators would have to perform at least one “overt act” in an attempt to accomplish the purpose of the conspiracy. It is not necessary for the conspiracy to be successful, that is, for the object of the conspiracy to have been accomplished, and it is only necessary that one overt act be completed (even if the overt act is actually a failure in terms of what the overt act was supposed to accomplish).
Federal Indictments for drug cases most usually allege a conspiracy under Title 21, U.S. Code §846, the conspiracy statute for Title 21 violations. Such a conspiracy is usually plead in the Indictment as a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, a conspiracy to manufacture controlled substances, or a combination of all of these. Quite often, Indictments in federal drug trafficking cases will allege these two allegations/objects of the conspiracy: 1) to distribute, and 2) to possess with intent to distribute.
Generally, conspiracy is considered a common law offense. A civil conspiracy is an agreement between two or more parties to deprive a third party of legal rights or deceive a third party to obtain an illegal objective. The essence of civil conspiracy is damages. The main elements constituting a civil conspiracy are:
- An object to be accomplished,
- Meeting of minds on the objective or course of action,
- One or more overt acts,
- Further, proof of malice or an intent to injure, can be included as essential elements.
However, conspiracy is treated as a crime under many jurisdictions when a conspiracy to commit a particular offense occurs. The crime of conspiracy is defined as two or more persons conspiring to commit any crime, together with proof of the commission of an overt act to effect an objective of the agreement.
A conspirator remains a participant in the conspiracy unless and until s/he communicates a decision to renounce the agreement. Likewise, a person who joins a conspiracy after its formation is equally guilty with the original conspirators. It is to be noted that a conspirator is liable for the acts of his/her co-conspirators.
There are various elements that constitute conspiracy. A criminal conspiracy will be complete if it fulfills the following main elements:
- An agreement about the objective of the conspiracy;
- Specific intent to achieve that object;
- An overt act in furtherance of the agreement.
- Conspirators are jointly liable in conspiracy. If a defendant claims that s/he was not present at the time of the alleged conspiracy, or if s/he was unaware about the means to be employed for committing conspiracy, or defendant was put under coercion by the co-conspirator to commit conspiracy, these will not amount to a defense in criminal conspiracy.
By definition, as referenced above, a conspiracy necessarily includes an agreement between persons to perform, or attempt to perform, an illegal act, i.e., possess large quantities of an illegal drug with the intent to distribute it to others (possess with intent to distribute), or actual transactions where the illegal drugs are transferred to other persons (distribution). Because of the nature of such allegations, it is common place for some defendants to know other defendants in the Indictment, and to even have had contact with them regarding the allegations.
However, it is also common to find that many defendants of a multi-defendant Indictment do not even know many other defendants, especially those “down the line” in the Indictment. That is, if many persons, say, twenty (20) or more, are indicted, often a defendant anywhere in the Indictment may not know those who are listed as say number ten (10) or lower. Frequently, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will include many persons who are allegedly involved in the distribution chain of the controlled substances, and those who are allegedly involved in the collection of monies for the same. This scenario often leaves one, two, or three persons named near the top of the Indictment as the supposed common link(s) between them and various others in the Indictment.
A conspiracy allegation is generally easier for the government to prove than substantive counts, as the evidence needed to prove a conspiracy would have to show that there was an agreement and at least one person performed or attempted to perform an overt act to further the object of the conspiracy. A conspiracy count often is more attractive to a federal prosecutor who has some, but limited evidence, on a defendant.
Elements of the Crime
The crime of conspiracy is defined as two or more persons conspiring to commit any crime, together with proof of the commission of an overt act in furtherance by one or more of the parties to such agreement. However, mere association of two or more persons will not constitute a criminal conspiracy. The main elements of conspiracy are a specific intent, an agreement with another person to engage a crime to be performed, and the commission of an overt act by one of the conspirators in furtherance of the conspiracy.
An unlawful agreement is an element of a criminal conspiracy. Generally, the crime of conspiracy is complete when parties enter into a conspiratorial agreement. Moreover, if there is an agreement between two or more persons for an unlawful purpose, it is considered a criminal conspiracy even where there is no agreement regarding the details of the criminal scheme or the means by which the unlawful purpose will be accomplished. The agreement will determine whether single or multiple conspiracies exist between the parties. A single conspiratorial agreement will constitute a single criminal conspiracy and multiple agreements to commit separate crimes will constitute multiple conspiracies.
Similarly, conspiracy is considered a specific intent crime. A specific intent crime is one in which a person acts with knowledge of what he/she is doing and also with the objective of completing some unlawful act. The intent can be determined from words, acts, and conduct. If the conspirators agree or conspire with specific intent to kill and commit an overt act in furtherance of such agreement, then they are guilty of conspiracy to commit express malice murder.
Another element that constitutes criminal conspiracy is knowledge. To be more specific, to make a person liable for criminal conspiracy as a coconspirator, he/she must have knowledge of the existence of the conspiracy and knowledge of the illegal object of the conspiracy. At the same time, a person having no knowledge of a conspiracy cannot be considered a conspirator.
Hire the Best Drug Conspiracy Criminal Defense Lawyer in Houston
Similarly, in order to satisfy the statute, the government must prove that a conspirator committed an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. A conspiracy conviction requires proof of the commission of at least one overt act by one of the conspirators within the five-year statutory period in furtherance of the conspiratorial agreement.
In federal Indictments, in addition to conspiracy counts, often the government charges specific events of transfers of illegal drugs, referred to in the federal system as “distribution(s).” In various state court Indictments, such transfers of drugs are known as “deliveries.” These charges are much more specific as to what occurred and when it happened. That is, a distribution count in the federal Indictment concisely alleges that on a certain date, a named defendant distributed a certain amount of a controlled substance to another named person or a government agent.
Possession With Intent to Distribute Charges
Like a specifically-pled distribution count, a substantive count alleging possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance more specifically (than the wording in a conspiracy) states the date, quantity, persons involved and sometimes the location. The element of the crime “with intent to distribute” has to be proven just as the other elements of the alleged crime, including possession and controlled substance. The government will attempt to prove the element “with intent to distribute” in one of two ways: 1) the quantity alone can show that it was much more than personal use amounts; and/or 2) testimony from cooperators who have knowledge of the discussions and plans of the co-defendants.
A person can be charged with manufacturing a controlled substance under Title 21 of the United States Code, but more commonly any allegation of manufacturing will be alleged in a conspiracy.
Defenses for a Conspiracy Charge
Entrapment is a defense available in conspiracy cases. A defendant can make an entrapment defense by stating that s/he was persuaded and induced by a law enforcement officer or agent to participate in a conspiracy and that s/he had no previous intention to conspire. In such cases, the conviction is excluded by the court as a matter of policy.
However, the defense of entrapment will not be available to a defendant who avails him/herself of the benefit of the opportunity provided to him by the government official with an intention to commit conspiracy. But if there is evidence to show that the intention to participate in a conspiracy was the result of the persuasion or inducement from the government official then a defendant will not be convicted.
A defendant who takes the defense of entrapment must show the following:
- that the idea of conspiracy came from the government official and not from the defendant;
- that the government official persuaded or induced the defendant to commit the crime; and
- that before inducement, the defendant was not ready to commit the crime.
- A defendant who becomes successful in proving an entrapment will be exempted from being punished for conspiracy. However, the defendant will not be exempted if the defendant was part of a conspiracy group of more that two persons. In this case, the defendant can get an exemption only if the other conspirators testify to the defendant’s entrapment.
If the objective of the conspiracy is of a nature that it was to be performed by the government official alone in exercise of his/her official duty, then the defendant will be exempted from punishment. However some courts have refused to accept this principle on the ground that it is the agreement that constitutes the crime of conspiracy and not the attainment of the objective.
When a defendant makes the defense of entrapment, it is the duty of the government to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was not entrapped by the government official.
Abandonment or Withdrawal From Crime
Abandonment or withdrawal from conspiracy is a defense available to a conspirator to escape liability. In cases of conspiracy requiring an overt act for conviction, a defendant can escape from the liability if s/he proves that they have withdrawn from the conspiracy prior to the performance of an overt act. Any withdrawal or abandonment taken subsequent to an overt act’s performance will not protect a defendant from liability. The defense of withdrawal or abandonment is not applicable in the case of a conspiracy that does not involve an overt act.
To make the defense of withdrawal or abandonment, a defendant must satisfy the following conditions:
- a defendant must take some positive action to withdraw from conspiracy;
- a defendant must make a timely communication of the withdrawal with the co-conspirators;
- a defendant must make the withdrawal prior to completion of conspiracy’s object; and
- a defendant must prove that there was a sufficient interval between the withdrawal or abandonment and commission of the conspiracy.
- When a defendant makes the defense of withdrawal or abandonment, s/he must prove the withdrawal or abandonment before the court. However, withdrawal or abandonment will not be fulfilled by the mere cessation of activities of the co-conspirators[ix]. A conspirator’s arrest or incarceration also will not constitute a withdrawal or abandonment.
But if a defendant, after withdrawal, stays in touch with the co-conspirators and takes part in the goals of the conspiracy, then the defense of withdrawal or abandonment will be nullified by the court.
Former jeopardy is a defense available for a conspiracy offense. Generally a conspiracy to commit a crime and commission of a crime are considered two separate offenses. Prosecution for conspiracy and commission of a crime are treated as separate proceedings and they do not qualify under the double jeopardy prohibition. Thus, a former conviction or acquittal for a crime will not bar a subsequent prosecution for conspiracy to commit that crime. Similarly, a former conviction or acquittal for conspiracy to commit a crime does not bar a subsequent prosecution for that crime. The order of acquittal passed in prosecution proceedings of the crime and a subsequent order of conviction for the offense of conspiracy to commit the same crime will not be treated as inconsistent. The conviction of a person for both the crime and conspiracy will not be treated as prosecuting a person twice for the same offense.
The commission of an overt act which forms an element of a conspiracy can by itself constitute a crime. In such cases, an acquittal for the crime on the ground that the overt act was not committed will operate as an acquittal for the offense of conspiracy of that crime. In like circumstances, the defendant can take the plea of former jeopardy to defend against a conviction for conspiracy. However, if the acquittal was rooted on some other ground, that will result in a conviction for the offense of conspiracy.
In some circumstances a person may be accused for two separate crimes done in one action and for conspiracy to commit both crimes. For example, person A committed murder and lurking house trespass under a conspiracy. Here A is liable for the offense of murder and its conspiracy and for lurking house trespass along with its conspiracy. Convicting such a person severally for two conspiracies would amount to convicting a person twice for the same crime. However, person A who is charged with the offense of murder in pursuance of a conspiracy cannot claim jeopardy on the basis of the prior conviction or acquittal for the offense of lurking house trespass that is committed under the same conspiracy.
However, a state court is not barred from convicting a person against an order of acquittal by the Federal court on identical facts involved in the case which came before the state court. Similarly if any case comes before the Federal court with facts identical to the facts of a state case that granted a conviction, the Federal court can grant an acquittal in such a case without considering the state court’s decision for conviction.
The plea of res judicata is a defense available in conspiracy cases. Although the defense of res judicata appears to be similar to the defense of former jeopardy, the former differs from the later in its legal implications.
An order of acquittal passed in a former case will operate as res judicata on a subsequent case only if the matter in the former case was tried and adjudicated properly. A verdict can be said to be a properly adjudicated one only if the issues involved in the case were fully considered and determined.
An order of acquittal made in a prosecution of a crime will not operate as res judicata to bar the subsequent prosecution for conspiracy to commit that crime. However an order of acquittal resulting from a prosecution for conspiracy of a crime will operate as a bar on the prosecution for the commission of the crime on the ground that there is re-litigation of the same question of fact that was already determined in the previous prosecution. Whereas if an order of acquittal results from a conspiracy prosecution where the prosecution attorney was unable to convince the jury on the conspiracy, this proceeding will not operate as res judicata to a subsequent proceeding to prosecute the commission of the crime.
However, an order of acquittal for conspiracy will operate as a bar to a subsequent proceeding against the defendant for aiding and abetting the commission of a crime, if evidence of the agreement between the abettor/defendant and the abetted is essential to prove the crime.
The following arguments will not constitute a defense to a criminal conspiracy:
- that it was the co-conspirators who committed the conspiracy’s objective;
- that the defendant was not present at the time and place of an alleged conspiracy(plea of alibi);
- that the co-conspirator is an undercover police agent who extended cooperation and made the agreement for conspiracy;
- that a conspiracy’s object was not achieved due to impracticability in performance;
- that the defendant had withdrawn from the conspiracy before any overt act is performed in furtherance of the conspiracy agreement which did not require an overt act;
- that the defendant was unaware about the means to be employed for committing conspiracy; and
- that the defendant was put under coercion by the co-conspirator to commit conspiracy, if there is evidence supporting the defendant’s willful knowledge and participation in a conspiracy.
Punishment and Sentencing
Penalties for convictions of federal drug statute violations are driven by the type of controlled substance, and by the quantities involved. Usually in federal drug prosecutions, the statutory range of punishment is either five (5) to forty (40) years, or ten (10) years to life. Title 21, U.S. Code, §841 sets forth the drug and quantity listings for these statutory penalties. Some, but fewer, federal prosecutions are for charges that carry from zero (0) to twenty (20) years.
Also, more significantly, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”) play a huge role in sentencing a defendant in federal courts. In summary, the U.S.S.G. function as a point system, driven by drug quantities and other point enhancements, such as the use of a weapon or organizer/leader. The more points accumulated, then the higher the prison range exists for a defendant’s potential sentence. A defendant can receive points subtracted from the total offense level for acceptance of responsibility upon a plea of guilty, and cooperation with the government provides an avenue for the possibility of a reduced sentence.
Punishment and sentencing in a conspiracy conviction depends on the evidence set forth in the case. Punishment will be given in conformity with the applicable statutes.
While imposing a sentence, a court can use its discretion reasonably to consider various factors. An appropriate sentence considers a defendant’s age, social and cultural background, past criminal record if any, education, and experience. The defendant’s manner and attitude are also taken into consideration. The motive to commit the offense and the nature of the offense are additional factors considered when imposing a sentence.
The maximum penalty for conspiracy is usually limited to the maximum punishment fixed for the crime that the conspirators conspired to commit. A court can grant a sentence in a crime of conspiracy to the extent of the maximum punishment fixed for the crime. Some state laws do not require a strict ratio between crime and sentence. However, the sentence must not be extremely inconsistent with the severity of the crime.
An enhanced sentence can be given considering the nature and circumstances of the offense committed. A conspiracy to kill or injure a person is a crime of violence and the conspirator to that crime would be sentenced based on the rules of sentencing related to a crime based on the use of physical force. The gravity of the offense will be considered and the conspirators are subject to enhanced punishment. Likewise, if the crime was not due to a sudden provocation but planned, the crime is more severe and the sentence could be more severe.
Under some state laws, the trial court’s sentence can be reversed only on appeal:
- if it violates constitutional requirements;
- if a judge was influenced by ill-will, prejudice, or impermissible considerations; or
- if the sentence exceeded the limit prescribed by a statute.
- Generally, criminal procedures permit multiple sentencing. Hence it does not violate the Constitution. For example, a federal statute provides that, whoever is being prosecuted for any crime of violence or drug trafficking, if he/she uses or carries a firearm in relation to that crime, they may be sentenced to an additional period apart from the sentence for the original crime.
The Best Houston Conspiracy Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Drug crime convictions are serious and can result in jail time, heavy fines, asset seizure, and a permanent criminal record. Not to mention the additional penalties that can result from a charge of conspiracy. Houston Drug Attorney Charles Johnson has significant experience investigating and defending drug conspiracy crimes and will fight to ensure the protection of your freedom. Depending on your crime and the particular facts of your case, there may be many defenses available against your charge.
Contact Houston Lawyer Johnson today for a Free Consultation at (713) 222-7577 anytime day or night and learn which defenses may work for you.
Facing An Arrest for Conspiracy? Hire the Best Houston Criminal Lawyer
by Charles Johnson
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The Most Dedicated Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is going to be accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to take your call. He will make himself accessible to meet with you for an initial totally free consultation to talk about your case at a time and date and location that’s convenient for you.
Consulting with the Best Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson is suggested for individuals charged with a crime, simply because persons accused of crimes will probably be able to better understand the charges that have been brought against them and what defense is available for those charges. It’s a constitutional right for anyone charged with a crime within the United States to have fair and competent legal counsel in a court of law or to have the capability to represent themselves in a court of law, based on the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Houston Criminal Defense: Hire the Most Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney » Charles Johnson
Anyone that has been charged with a crime should consult the advice and also the representation of the Best Houston Attorney to help comprehend the nature of the charge, what defenses are available for the crime, if plea bargains are available, and what could occur if the defendant is convicted of the crime. They can also help to identify pretrial problems and bring about essential motions either prior to or throughout the trial that can help to have the charge dismissed or have the charges lessened. Consulting with your attorney can mean the difference between serving a 20 year jail term and having your case dismissed. Charles Johnson is skilled in defending those charged with a selection of various crimes and studies the ever changing laws.
State vs. Federal Crimes
There are differences in between becoming charged having a state criminal offense or a federal criminal offense. Any individual charged for a crime ought to inform their attorney as to which level crime they’ve been charged simply because the defense that the lawyer prepares will probably be different if the crime is a state level charge or a federal level charge.
If You are Charged with a Felony or Misdemeanor
Waiting to consult a criminal defense attorney until a person is charged with committing a crime can be detrimental to that person’s case. An individual suspected of committing a crime, whether or not they actually committed the crime, ought to consult with the Most Dedicated Houston Lawyer instantly. Immediacy is an important factor when creating a defense to a criminal charge and Attorney Johnson will start working on a defense as soon as feasible.
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Virtually all drug charge convictions bear severe consequences, but the state of Texas makes every effort to crack down on drug manufacture cases. From meth laboratories to marijuana grow houses, in the event you or a loved one faces criminal charges surrounding the cultivation of drugs; you need to speak to the Finest Houston Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm prior to taking any sort of legal action on your own.
The Top Houston Drug Crimes Attorney Charles Johnson will have many years of experience protecting the accused within the courts throughout Texas and is going to be willing to respond to your questions and reduce the damages facing you following your drug manufacture arrest.
When you initially step into their office, the Top Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm will talk about your case, talk about what happened, and how the criminal charges you face might be affected by a prior criminal record. Listening to your side of the story, they’ll help you explore any and all potential defenses.
Understanding your side of the story is important. They will tell you about the court in which your charges are being heard. In all instances, they will want to hear your side of the story before beginning to fully evaluate your choices.
Hire The Recommended Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm
Texas defense attorneys see many drug distribution cases due to the sheer volume of interstate highway traffic. Sadly, it’s all-too-easy to move drugs along the interstate highway system in all directions. In particular within the Houston area, our law enforcement officers have noticed patterns when searching for drug traffickers. It is common for vehicles to be stopped along northbound interstates and for big amounts of drugs to be found. When suspect automobiles are stopped heading southbound, big amounts of currency are occasionally found. Whether the criminal arrest will be sale, distribution, or drug trafficking depends upon the kind and also the amount of drugs in question. However the difference you face in penalties is substantial.
A first degree felony drug conviction usually results in a minimum five-year prison term, but in large-scale drug manufacturing or drug distribution cases, jail terms can jump to a minimum of 15 years.
If excessively big sums of U.S. currency are found inside your vehicle (or perhaps a vehicle you are riding in), you may face charges of money laundering. Amazingly, the penalties at the federal level for possessing big amounts of money are similarly severe to those for possessing big amounts of drugs.
You might also discover yourself dealing with conspiracy charges, something federal prosecutors might add on to drug crime cases.
The Recommended Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Charles Johnson will have handled numerous state and federal drug cases in Texas courts, from drug manufacturing cases involving meth laboratories and marijuana grow houses to international drug trafficking. No case is too big or complicated for their firm to handle.
Seizure of Assets
Law enforcement officers doing drug interdiction work have the legal right to seize assets that had been utilized in furtherance of a criminal offense or purchased using the proceeds of criminal activity. This indicates they not only confiscate drugs; they also seize money, cars, boats, various other personal property and even real estate. The police or law enforcement agency is able to then sell the assets and keep the proceeds or just keep the property altogether for their own purposes. This is especially typical with vehicles.
Asset forfeiture sometimes goes too far, with the police taking property that doesn’t belong to anybody charged with the criminal offense, property and assets that in fact belongs to totally innocent family members or third parties. The Most Dedicated Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm handles asset forfeiture cases, helping customers fight to recover seized assets .
Creating Your Drug Manufacture Defense
Most drug manufacturing criminal charges, whether they involve marijuana or methamphetamines, are heard in state court. Quite often, marijuana grow houses and meth houses are discovered following informants report activities to the authorities.
If you have been turned in by a third party, the Best Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm will attack the reliability of the source. Nevertheless, in every case the quality of the evidence is different. That is why we analyze possible actions on a case-by-case basis.
Contact the Recommended Houston Drug Crimes Attorney Charles Johnson for a free consultation. They’ll fight hard to protect your rights throughout the legal process.
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Hire the Finest Houston Drug Crimes Attorney!
Drug possession is a severe criminal charge in Texas carrying a wide range of punitive measures from probation to lengthy prison sentences, depending on the quantity of the drug. A conviction on drug possession charges could have serious implications for you mainly because of the likelihood that you might have to go to jail and pay stiff fines reaching into the thousands of dollars, in addition to the probability the authorities may perhaps seize your vehicle or other assets.
Drug possession charges will follow you with a criminal record which can also keep you from certain jobs and professional licenses. If you are charged under the possession law, it means the state has arrested you for transporting or having access to a controlled substance including marijuana, cocaine, or Ecstasy.
A drug possession conviction may possibly bring about a six month driver’s license suspension under Texas statutes, so it makes sense to contact an criminal defense attorney for more information on alternatives to pleading guilty should you require the ability to drive. Law enforcement will be able to charge you with drug possession should they find drugs in your pockets or anywhere else on your body, or they can certainly charge you under a claim of “constructive possession“. This means the drugs had been in a place that you normally control or could very easily reach, that could be your car, your apartment, or the cushions of a couch where you had been sitting when police officers entered.
Speak to a Houston, Texas law firm to schedule a free of charge preliminary consultation with a qualified, aggressive Drug Possession Defense lawyer.
Aggressive Drug Possession Defense
The Most Effective Houston Criminal Lawyer will have a great deal of working experience providing vigorous defense for adults and juveniles confronting defense criminal charges for possession of illegal substances, that include:
- Crack cocaine
- Methamphetamines (meth
- Other illegal drugs
The penalties for a drug conviction can range from fines of $2,000 and 180 days in jail to fines of $50,000 and an entire lifetime in prison. The level of misdemeanor or felony charge is based upon the amount of drugs confiscated. By way of example, possession of five ounces of marijuana would lead to state felony charges with a sentence potential of up to $10,000 and a couple of years in prison.
A drug possession conviction might lead to criminal penalties, including fines and incarceration, and other penalties, such as license suspension, damage to reputation and loss of ability to acquire student loan financing. The Most Qualified Houston Criminal Lawyer will make every effort to minimize or altogether avoid such drastic repercussions through providing zealous defense counsel.
Drug Possession Sentencing
Judges will typically attempt to determine if the drugs had been for personal use or drug possession for sale and distribution when sentencing. Quite often the fines are quite major and quite often the sentence will include at least random drug testing and probation if not some jail time. Drug awareness classes and community service hours are quite often the initial option for the majority of judges, once it has been confirmed that the drugs had been for personal use.
Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson can help prove this, or simply prove that the drugs were definitely not yours in situations where they were recovered from an automobile or residence.
Protect Your Rights
You have a right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer – USE THEM. The Recommended Houston Drug Crimes Attorney investigates the methods in which the evidence was acquired in order to uncover violations of your constitutional rights.
Elicited confessions and the seized drugs are quite often the only evidence creating a case against you. This will certainly provide leverage in plea negotiations and even lead to dismissal of drug criminal charges. Any evidence that is obtained in violation of your legal rights is inadmissible in court – which means the evidence can’t be utilized in a case against you. Any time a confession was obtained unlawfully or unlawful drugs had been confiscated with an invalid search warrant (illegal search and seizure), your attorney should fight to suppress the evidence. As a highly skilled drug possession criminal defense lawyer, Charles Johnson understands how to mitigate damaging evidence.
Will I have to go to Jail on my Drug Possession Criminal Charge?
State possession law allows counties to set up diversion programs for men and women charged with offenses concerning the use or possession of drugs, including marijuana. And, judges are required to give probation, or community supervision, in certain drug possession court cases.
The state health code also requires any county with a population of more than 200,000 to establish a drug court program to send some drug offenders to treatment as opposed to jail.
The punishment primarily depends on the quantity of drugs involved and your prior conviction history, but it is very conceivable you could possibly not have to serve time for a drug possession conviction if it’s your initial offense for a relatively small amount./p>
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure makes community supervision and mandatory drug treatment programs a sentencing requirement for folks convicted of possessing:
- Less than 1 gram of drugs such as crack or meth.
- Less than 5 units of drugs that include LSD.
- Less than 1 gram of drugs including Ecstasy (MMDA) or PCP.
- Less than one pound of marijuana.
Nevertheless, the judge doesn’t have to sentence you to probation if you have been found guilty of a previous felony, or in the event you have violated an earlier probation sentence. In those cases, it is up to the judge whether or not you go to jail or get probation.
If your attorney can show the officers did not have probable cause, your consent, or a search warrant, your attorney may possibly be able to challenge the legality of the search that turned up those drugs and get the evidence suppressed, keeping the state from making its case against you.
To do that, the prosecutor must show that law enforcement officials found the drugs on you or in your control following a legal search. The judge also can sentence you to serve three to six months in jail before starting probation. Bear in mind, the state must first prove the criminal charge of drug possession before you may be sentenced. I highly recommend you get in touch with your lawyer for a free of charge consultation on your Texas drug possession charge, and your lawyer will walk you through the basic facts of your case, and your ideal legal defense solutions. As you can see, drug possession court cases get complicated very quickly.
Hire The Very Best Houston Drug Possession Defense Attorney: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
If you are confronting misdemeanor or felony drug possession charges following a drug charge in Texas, defend your liberties and future. Contact the Best Houston drug crime defense lawyer to schedule a free preliminary consultation. Many times the first arrest on Drug Possession criminal charges can be dropped down to a disorderly conduct, resulting in less significant penalties that usually do not include incarceration. Additionally, the Best Houston Drug Crimes Attorney could possibly even be able to have the criminal charges dropped in situation where you had been merely within the vicinity where the drugs had been located.
Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson will definitely negotiate these types of arrangements to avoid you from having a drug related charge on your record.
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Hire the Most Qualified Houston Drug Crimes Attorney!
Drug crimes are covered by both federal and state laws in Texas. Federal offenses are regulated by The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, known as the Controlled Substances Act.
The Controlled Substances Act covers almost all of the drug offenses in Texas and is codified within the Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapters 481 through 486. Because Texas is an international border state, drug traffic offenses are a major concern. The state of Texas also has a number of state drug laws which may not be applicable in other states.
What are the penalties for a drug conviction in Texas?
Drug offenses are amongst probably the most severe charges in criminal law. They carry with them severe penalties and can have other consequences in areas of one’s life such as family life and employment. The legal penalties for drug crimes will depend on the nature of the drug offense, and will generally consist of a fine and/or a lengthy prison sentence. If you’re charged having a drug related crime, you need to contact the Leading Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Charles Johnson Law Firm as soon as possible. The penalties for committing a drug crime may be fairly severe, such as actual prison time, occasionally for numerous years in larger high profile drug cases. A conviction for a drug-related offense could not just damage your personal and professional reputation, but could result in actual termination from employment or the suspension or revocation of your professional licenses. It’s not whether you’ll acquire a lawyer, rather, it’s who you will get to represent you at your most vulnerable time.
What kinds of elements are considered in sentences for drug crimes?
In determining the sentence for a drug crime, a Texas court will take into account the following elements:
- The type of drug: The Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs into 5 “Penalty Groups”, with Group 1 being probably the most serious. For instance, cocaine is classified as Penalty Group 1, whereas prescription drugs are Group three.
- The quantity of drugs in possession: Prison sentences or fines will increase according to the quantity of drug possessed. Greater amounts of the same drug will result in greater sentences.
- The purpose for which the drug is utilized: Simple possession is usually considered less severe than other crimes, such as possession with intent to distribute, or manufacturing and delivering drugs
- Location of the violation: Drug offenses are regarded as more severe if they take place in particular areas, for example near a school or day care center
Another essential factor that a court will consider is whether the drug offense was combined with another offense. Numerous drug offenses are related to other crimes such as conspiracy, theft, or assault. If the drug offense is related to an additional felony, particularly a violent crime, the penalties will probably be much more severe.
Do I require a lawyer for a drug offense?
Drug offenses are serious and can lead to felony charges. Therefore, the services of the Finest Houston Drug Crimes Attorney can be crucial when dealing with drug charges. This is especially true if the defendant is involved in multiple or repeat offenses. A skilled lawyer can help explain the numerous requirements under Texas drug laws. If you or perhaps a family member is charged with a crime in the Houston area, contact the Most Respected Houston Drug Crimes Lawyer for a free consultation with successful criminal defense lawyer. They can provide compassionate legal counsel, accessibility and personal attention, years of encounter, and aggressive protection of your rights.
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