The following is important information you should know regarding federal drug cases in Washington, DC and how they are treated by the courts and law enforcement officers. If you have already been charged, consult with a DC federal drug lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case.
Federal prosecutors tend to treat drug cases more harshly than, for example, financial crimes because they have mandatory minimum sentences at their disposal. Often, prosecutors try to use those mandatory minimum sentences to their advantage because Federal judges are bound by them. Defense attorneys are constantly trying give judges a way to sentence below the mandatory minimum during the sentencing stage of the trial. Overall, however, prosecutors treat drug cases very harshly and are usually very aggressive in litigating these cases.
One of the most hotly contested pieces of evidence in federal drug cases is the meaning of the recorded communications between people that are used as evidence by the prosecution.
Additionally, the amount of drugs involved tends to be contested vigorously because the government will sometimes try to extrapolate larger drug amounts from unclear communications. Prosecutors will say, “Well, we have evidence of one transaction. We think ten others occurred, so the actual drug amount involved is ten times the amount of the one we have evidence of,” and they’ll make associative leaps without any real basis to do so. During trial, the jury has to find the specific drug amount that was charged, and that amount can drastically effect what a potential sentence is.
Another hotly contested issue in federal drug cases is whether or not a person actually took any sort of actions that would show that they specifically intended to engage in a conspiracy.
Finally, there are also Fourth Amendment issues that are often contested because there are so many electronic communications in a conspiracy case that we often litigate. When this sort of evidence is being presented, it’s important to establish whether the government used constitutionally legitimate methods to get that data.
Role enhancement is sometimes a very important factor in federal drug cases. This is because sometimes you’ll have a client in a large drug conspiracy who is the lowest-level participant.
If you end up at a sentencing, someone could be deemed to have either been minor or a minimal participant, and if they are designated as such, their offense level could be reduced fairly significantly. On the other hand, if someone is deemed to be a leader or an organizer, there is an enhancement. Those issues are litigated pretty aggressively in federal drug cases.
It’s important to hire an attorney with experience in federal drug cases because there are a many issues that need to be litigated in those cases, and a comprehensive understanding of these issues is only formed after having dealt with them in various forms in case after case. An attorney who has a lot of experience litigating these cases knows what to look for, which is a major benefit when you’re looking to formulate a proactive defense strategy.
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