Drug Conspiracy Charges and Penalties

A drug conspiracy is defined as an agreement between two or more people to commit a drug crime. A federal drug conspiracy is an agreement to violate the federal drug laws.

To prove that a person is guilty of drug conspiracy charges, the government must have sufficient evidence of two things: (1) there was an agreement between two or more people to violate a federal drug law; and (2) each alleged conspirator knew of the unlawful agreement and joined in it.

The sentence for participating in a drug conspiracy depends on the type and quantity of drugs involved in the offense.

For marijuana, if there is no quantity of marijuana alleged, there is no mandatory minimum sentence, while the maximum sentence is 20 years. If there are 100 kilograms or more of a substance containing marijuana, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum sentence of 40 years. If there are 1000 or more kilograms of a substance containing marijuana, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

For cocaine and “crack” cocaine, if there is no quantity of cocaine or crack cocaine specified, there is no mandatory minimum sentence, while the maximum sentence is 20 years. If there are 500 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine or 28 grams or more of a substance containing crack cocaine, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum sentence of 40 years. If there are 5 or more kilograms of a substance containing cocaine or 280 grams or more of a substance containing crack cocaine, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

For methamphetamine, if there is no quantity of methamphetamine specified, there is no mandatory minimum sentence, while the maximum sentence is 20 years. If there are 5 grams or more of a substance containing methamphetamine, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum sentence of 40 years. If there are 50 or more grams of a substance containing methamphetamine, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

For heroin, if there is no quantity of heroin specified, there is no mandatory minimum sentence, while the maximum sentence is 20 years. If there are 100 grams or more of a substance containing heroin, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum sentence of 40 years. If there is 1 or more kilograms of a substance containing heroin, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Law enforcement is also now prosecuting drug conspiracies involving opioids, especially fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. A controlled substance “analogue” is a chemical compound that is “substantially similar” to a controlled substance, both in chemical structure and in the effects it produces when consumed.

While fentanyl is a Schedule II drug, a fentanyl analogue is classified under Schedule I. There are no mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes involving fentanyl or fentanyl analogues.

https://www.justice.vic.gov.au/justice-system/laws-and-regulation/criminal-law

Drug conspiracy is one of the most frequently charged drug-related crimes in the United States. This type of criminal charge is common in federal drug cases, mainly because it is easier for federal prosecutors to prove that a defendant conspired to commit a drug crime than it is to prove that the defendant actually committed the crime. In fact, a crime doesn’t even have to take place for the prosecution to prove a drug conspiracy case, nor does the prosecution have to have any hard evidence of the defendant’s guilt, such as drugs in his or her possession. That means you could end up being charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs whether or not you actually delivered or distributed any of the drugs in question; so long as the prosecution can show that you conspired with someone else to commit the crime, it can prove its case.

The federal government takes drug conspiracy charges very seriously. As a result, the penalties for committing drug conspiracy crimes have become increasingly serious as the so-called “War on Drugs” has grown. In an effort to get drug dealers off the streets for good, mandatory sentences have been enacted to make sure that anyone convicted of committing a drug conspiracy crime will spend time in federal prison, without exception.

Charges and Penalties

With prison sentences ranging up to 40 years, a conviction can significantly affect your life and freedom.

Federal charges can be initiated in one of three ways: a grand jury “indictment,” an “information,” or a “criminal complaint.” In federal felony cases, the U.S. Constitution requires that the prosecutor present the case to a grand jury to decide whether charges should be issued. A grand jury is comprised of 16-23 members of the public who are called to serve on jury duty. Sometimes federal prosecutors use a criminal complaint or an information as a faster way to issue charges — particularly when a grand jury is not in session.

All three methods require the same level of proof: probable cause that a crime has been committed. But the process is different. For “criminal complaints” and charges by “information,” a judge decides that there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, as opposed to a grand jury making that determination. In a felony, the government has a limited amount of time to bring the case before a grand jury, or the charges must be dismissed.

Besides conspiracy charges, there are other tactics the government can use to expand the reach of the federal drug laws. For example, the government can charge people who attempt to commit a crime, or who aid and abet another in committing a crime, as if they are responsible for the full offense. The government can also bring federal drug charges for offenses involving “analogue” drugs, which are substances that are substantially similar to Schedule I drugs and that have a similar effect but a slightly different chemical makeup.

 

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Evidence in Federal Drug Cases
The most common types of evidence in a federal case include:

Witness testimony – Police officers or agents, cooperating witnesses, informants, bystanders, friends, family, neighbors, and others who are called to testify under federal subpoena.
Expert testimony – People with particular knowledge about a topic that is outside the normal understanding of jurors, often in scientific fields like DNA and lab testing.
Digital files – Cell phone content, emails, text messages, photos, videos, social media accounts, private messages, app usage, computer files, cloud accounts, and other digital media.
Cell phone records – Call records, location information, and other data that comes directly from the cell phone company.
Seized drugs – Drugs seized during the course of the investigation, such as through a search warrant, in plain sight, or subject to an exception to the warrant requirement.
Lab reports – Drug weight, type, potency/purity tests, and other scientific testing.
Physical evidence – Digital scales, plastic baggies, pipes, needles, money, notes, firearms, documents, and other items tying the defendants to the crime.
Location information – Cell tower records, tracking devices, and GPS records.
Audio/video recordings and phone tapping – Surveillance videos from pole cameras or recording devices, security camera footage, recordings made by undercover officers or informants, and audio recordings of phone conversations acquired through a wiretap.

Source: https://www.pagepate.com/experience/criminal-defense/federal-crimes/federal-drug-conspiracy/

Source 2: https://federalcriminaldefense.pro/federal-crimes/drug-conspiracy-charges/

Source 3: https://criminaldefenselawventura.com/federal-defense/drug-conspiracy/

Source 4: https://www.springsteadbartish.com/federal-criminal-defense-attorneys/drug-charges/