Drug Crime Lawyers | Lancaster Office | Serving Gorham, NH
16 Park, Lancaster, NH 03584
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Drug crimes are some of the most common crimes in the United States, ranging from (unlawful) possession of a controlled substance to large-scale drug trafficking and racketeering. Drug crime typically involves the possession, distribution, manufacture, cultivation, or illicit sale of recreational drugs, from morphine to heroin to cannabis.
Nearly any drug offense could see you end up in the federal system because these substances are all banned under federal law. If federal officers, such as those with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), are conducting operations in your area, an arrest by one of those officers would likely lead to federal charges. Using illegal drugs on federal property, such as national parks, can also lead to drug charges. While federal officials often target distributors and traffickers more than people possessing a small amount of drugs, the potential does still exist.
Drug crimes involve any actions related to the use of local, state or federally banned narcotics like heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. Some common drug crimes include selling, distributing, consuming or possessing these substances. The illegal use of prescription drugs like oxycodone and Vicodin also falls under this category. For example, if police find you with oxycodone, but you do not have a prescription for it, you are likely to be arrested.
The most common drug crime in the U.S. is drug possession. Having one or more illegal drugs on one’s person constitutes the crime, whether an offender is under the influence of said drugs. Some states consider possession of small amounts of marijuana to be a petty offense or infraction if they prosecute it at all. This leniency in the face of increasingly common relaxation of laws regarding cannabis consumption does not apply to most other drugs scheduled by the federal government.
Drug possession with intent to distribute (or simply possession with intent to distribute) is a charge which straddles the gap between simple possession (of small amounts, personal amounts of a controlled substance) and drug trafficking (which involves the large-scale movement/dealing of illicit drugs). A “street dealer” moving moderate quantities of cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, etc. may be charged with drug possession with intent to distribute if a case can be made based on the evidence provided by law enforcement.
Drug trafficking is the highest order of drug offenses, at both the state and federal levels. Almost always classified as a felony, drug trafficking refers to conducting unlawful trade in controlled substances, generally involving great quantities of the drug(s) in question.
While simple possession of most scheduled drugs (particularly cannabis) results in, at most, misdemeanor charges — and typically, a drug diversion program or rehabilitation — possession with intent to distribute and drug trafficking are prosecuted more aggressively.
Those convicted of large-scale drug trafficking could see between 10 years to a life sentence if convicted. At the state level, drug trafficking charges typically range from three years to a life sentence, depending on the drug being moved and the quantity being transported. If death or serious injury results from the trafficking of these drugs or the demonstrable use of the drugs, penalties are almost always enhanced to 20 years to life.
Possession with intent to distribute is generally charged at the state level, and penalties vary based on the context of the crime as well as the jurisdiction laws of each state. In some states, possession of cannabis with intent to sell is classified as a third degree felony. If found guilty of these charges, offenders could face up to five years behind bars. If the substance in question is instead cocaine, the maximum sentence is increased to 15 years incarceration. A range of between one to five years is common for first-time offenders, with penalties increasing for repeat offenders or for more harshly scrutinized drugs.
You can be handed a probation requirement in response to a conviction for a drug-related crime or even as part of a potential plea deal. The likelihood that you receive probation as part of your sentence depends on the severity of the alleged offense and a variety of other factors, so it is vital to speak with an attorney to determine if you can reasonably expect to get probation. Regularly meeting with your probation officer, abstaining from drugs or with those who use drugs, and other conditions may be part of your probation.
If you are facing charges related to drugs or drug-related crime, you should seek the services of a skilled criminal defense attorney at your earliest opportunity. A conviction in response to a drug crime, even simple possession, can create a lifelong disadvantage in the form of a permanent criminal record.
Retaining proper legal counsel not only increases your chance of avoiding conviction, but in situations where the prosecution has a viable case, your attorney may be able to negotiate a lesser sentence in exchange for your cooperation. Together, you and your lawyer can craft the best defense possible in the event that you decide to proceed to trial, and if not, your lawyer can help to guide you through every option available to you.
Specialized legal help is available for most legal issues. Each case is unique; seeking legal help is a smart first step toward understanding your legal situation and seeking the best path toward resolution for your case. An experienced lawyer understands the local laws surrounding your case and what your best legal options might be. More importantly, there are certain situations and circumstances – such as being charged with a crime – where you should always seek experienced legal help.
Prepare for your consultation by writing down notes of your understanding of the case, jot down questions and concerns for the attorney, and gather your documents. Remember that you are trying to get a sense of whether the attorney has your trust and can help you address your legal issues. Questions should include how the attorney intends to resolve your issue, how many years he/she has been practicing law and specifically practicing in your area, as well as how many cases similar to yours the attorney has handled. It can also be helpful to broach the subject of fees so that you understand the likely cost and structure of your representation by a specific attorney and/or legal team.
A reputable attorney will be very upfront about how he/she will charge you. The three most common fee structures that attorneys use to charge for their services are:
Depending on your specific legal situation, it’s possible that only one type of fee structure is available. For instance, criminal defense attorneys almost always bill by the hour. In a flat fee arrangement, an attorney accepts a one-time payment to help you resolve your issue. With a contingent fee agreement, the client pays little to nothing upfront and the attorney receives a percentage of the money recovered if you win your case.
Personal jurisdiction – Requirement that a particular court have authority over a person, in order to bind that person to the judgment of the court, based on minimum contacts. International Shoe Co v. Washington is a landmark Supreme Court case outlining the scope of a state court’s reach in personal jurisdiction.