Drug Crimes

Federal drugs crimes are among the most severely sanctioned crimes under the present, advisory Guidelines system.  Indeed, most Federal drug crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences.

Types of Federal drug crimes

Federal drug crimes can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Drug trafficking/conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, cocaine, or marijuana;

  • Importation of substantial amounts if controlled drugs;

  • Manufacture of methamphetamine or the cultivation of marijuana; and

  • Possession of large amounts of controlled drugs with the intent to distribute.

All Federal drug crimes and their commensurate sentences are amount driven.  The simple rule of thumb is "more drugs, more time in prison."

"It's all bad" ― Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Mandatory minimum sentences have been widely criticized, and much of that criticism has come from federal judges, as mandatory sentencing laws prevent judges from imposing lenient sentences on individuals who deserve them.  They prevent judges from taking into account any mitigating circumstances, such as the minor role a defendant played in a conspiracy.  They give prosecutors (rather than judges) control of which defendants receive harsh sentences because prosecutors decide who will be charged with offenses carrying a mandatory minimum sentence.

To make matter worse, prosecutors have the power to ask the Court to sentence cooperating witnesses and confidential informants (or "snitches") to below the mandatory minimum and thus reward them for informing on, or testifying against, other individuals suspected of drug crimes.


In a nutshell, judges cannot sentence a defendant below a mandatory minimum unless a prosecutor authorizes them to do so.


Mandatory minimum sentences, therefore, shift sentencing authority from judges to prosecutors.

Examples of federal mandatory minimum sentences include:

5-Year Mandatory Minimum

  • Distributing at least 100 G but less than 1 KG of heroin

  • Distributing at least 500 G but less than 5 KG of cocaine

  • Distributing at least 28 G but less than 280 G of crack

  • Distributing at least 50 G but less than 500 G of methamphetamine (or 5 G to 50 G of pure methamphetamine)

  • Distributing at least 1 G but less than 10 G of LSD

  • Distributing at least 100 KG but less than 1,000 KG of marijuana (or growing 100 to 1,000 plants)


10-Year Mandatory Minimum

  • Distributing 1 KG or more of heroin

  • Distributing 5 KG or more of cocaine

  • Distributing 280 G or more of crack

  • Distributing 500 G or more of methamphetamine (or 50 G or more of pure methamphetamine)

  • Distributing 10 G or more of LSD

  • Distributing 1,000 KG or more or marijuana (or growing more than 1,000 plants)

  • Committing any of the crimes listed above under “5 year mandatory minimum” after a prior state or federal conviction for a drug crime


20-Year Mandatory Minimum

  • Committing any of the crimes listed above under “10 year mandatory minimum” after a prior state or federal conviction for a drug crime

  • Committing any distribution offense if serious injury or death results (but if the defendant has a prior state or federal conviction for a drug crime, the mandatory sentence is life)


No margin for error

Given the severe sentences listed above, defendants simply can't afford to hire an attorney who's not experienced defending Federal drug crimes, who's not versed in calculating the advisory, Federal sentencing Guidelines and who doesn't thoroughly understand "safety valve" relief and when it applies.

Thankfully, there are defenses to Federal drug crimes charges.  Consider, for instance, lack of evidence, lack of intent, and improper police conduct.  

Don't give up; there is hope

Which is why it's critically important to hire an experienced Federal criminal defense attorney to develop an effective defense strategy and to fight the Government on key issues such as knowledge and intent and to file motions to suppress evidence when practicable.

If you or a loved one is arrested and charged with a Federal drug crime, please call our 24-hour telephone number 305-461-1066 to set up an appointment and free consultation so we can assess your particular case and provide you with the best legal advice on how to proceed.

We are solely a Criminal Defense Law Firm.  That's all we do and all we have done since 1987.


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