Most federal drug crimes result in lengthy prison sentences. Clients of federal criminal attorneys should consider that, unlike the states, the federal government follows mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. Therefore, a minor infraction at the state level can lead to a long sentence if the case is tried in federal court. Other than mandatory federal sentences, the government can impose other penalties on offenders. This article lists some of the most common penalties in federal drug convictions.
Loss of Federal Benefits
A drug conviction at the federal level can result in loss of federal perks such as grants, school loans, licenses, and contracts. Federal trafficking convictions can lead to the denial of benefits for five years in first-time cases, with the length of time increasing for each subsequent conviction. If a person is convicted for a third time, they lose benefits permanently.
Forfeiture of Real Estate and Other Personal Property
A person convicted of a federal drug crime carrying a sentence of over one year must forfeit property related to the crime, such as homes and cars. A seizure warrant can be issued, and the property can be taken when the person is arrested on charges that can result in asset forfeiture.
Federal trafficking penalties can vary according to the quantity of drugs involved. Penalties become more severe for subsequent convictions. If bodily injury or death results from the use of an illegally distributed controlled substance, the person charged with distribution can face a prison term of 20 years to life, and up to an $8 million fine.
In some federal drug cases, a civil penalty of at least $10,000 can be imposed for possession of a small amount of controlled substances. This penalty is imposed regardless of whether the government pursues a criminal prosecution.
Should an Offender Hire a Defense Lawyer?
If a person is convicted of a drug offense at the federal level, they should consult a criminal defense attorney in the area. When the consequences described above apply to an offender, federal criminal attorneys with can explain the person’s legal options and negotiate a far better resolution for the case.