Federal Criminal Defense
Federal crimes range from mail and wire fraud to gun licensing violations and drug trafficking. Federal crimes are investigated by federal agencies such as the FBI, the IRS or DEA. When a federal case goes to trial, it is prosecuted by a United States Attorney rather than a district attorney, who prosecutes a state crime.
If there is a conviction in a federal case, the sentencing follows federal guidelines. A finding or plea of guilty can result in incarceration in a federal prison. In general, federal sentences and penalties tend to be longer and more severe than state penalties for similar violations.
Examples of Federal Crimes include:
Are You Facing Federal Charges?
If you were arrested in Maine by a federal agent; or if you received a target letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, you are facing federal charges.
Do not delay in contacting a Maine criminal lawyer with federal court experience. There are defensive steps that may be taken to protect you, and the sooner they are prepared and implemented, the better.
Call 207-879-4000 now for a free legal consultation with a top federal defense attorney in Maine.
We encourage you to continue reading for general information that may be helpful. However, we strongly advise speaking directly with an attorney who has the specialized knowledge and experience to assist you personally.
Federal Drug Charges
Nichols & Churchill defend against federal drug charges which result from a variety of drug offenses. Federal drug crimes are codified in 21 U.S. Code 841. If convicted, these laws carry severe penalties that range from 5 years in federal prison to life.
Trafficking in Schedule I and II drugs, which include cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, LSD and fentanyl, can trigger a mandatory minimum sentence. For example, if you are arrested in possession of from 500 grams up to five kilograms of cocaine, you can expect a minimum five year prison term at sentencing.
However, if you are at the lower end, have no criminal record and were not violent, your federal drug crime lawyer can apply for 1st time offender relief from the mandatory minimum. Continue reading or contact us now to learn more.
What Is Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking is the making, buying, selling and/or distributing of illegal drugs in large quantities. An illegal drug is any unlawfully possessed controlled substance.
Types of drug trafficking cases commonly prosecuted in Maine include:
- Possession w/ Intent to Distribute
- Conspiracy with intent to distribute
- Grow house trafficking schemes
- Trafficking in methamphetamine
- Trafficking in fentanyl
- Trafficking in heroin
- Trafficking in cocaine
An indictment charge for trafficking in opiates is the most serious federal drug crime you can face. You and your defense lawyer can fight the charges based on strategies such as demonstrating that the evidence was illegally obtained.
You and your federal drug crime attorney may also choose to contest the level of offense by showing that the role you played was minimal. These are strategies that can result in most if not all of your federal charges being dropped or dismissed.
What Causes a Drug Crime to be a Federal Offense?
What makes a drug crime federal varies, although the U.S. Attorney’s office will likely take interest in the case if:
- You were arrested by a federal agent, such as a Drug Enforcement Administration officer or DEA agent.
- There were large quantities of drugs involved.
- The alleged offense resulted in death/s.
- Large amounts of drugs were transported across state lines.
- You were charged with possession on federal land such as Acadia National Park.
- The alleged offense is trafficking involving illegal drug prescriptions.
Is Drug Trafficking a Federal Crime?
Yes. Drug trafficking is a federal felony and is more serious than drug possession. In general, if you are found with large quantities of narcotics, you can be charged with drug trafficking because the assumption is that you are selling the drugs, versus possessing smaller amounts for personal use.
First Time Offender Drug Trafficking
Under new federal sentencing guidelines, if a drug trafficking defendant is a nonviolent first offender accused of committing a lower base offense level crime (Zone A or Zone B), the court can consider imposing a sentence other than incarceration.
If you have no prior record and did not use violence, a firearm or other dangerous weapon in connection with the offense, you can qualify for an alternative sentence such as home detention and/or probation.
A federal drug crime lawyer experienced in Maine federal court procedures, sentencing guidelines and drug trafficking laws is in the best position to garner a reduced or alternative sentence on your behalf. If you need assistance, call Nichols & Churchill now for a free case review of your drug trafficking charges.
Quick Facts: Mandatory Minimum Penalties for Drug Crimes
- Nearly half of all drug trafficking offenders in a given year have little to no criminal history.
- Many drug crime offenders receive sentence reductions if convicted.
- Federal drug crime lawyers successfully request relief from mandatory minimums during sentencing. Nearly half of all convicted drug traffickers in 2016 received relief from mandatory minimums.
- Defendants shown to have had a minimal role in the offense -or low culpability -receive significant sentence reductions where minimums are not triggered.
- Defendants with addictions to the drug can receive leniency through a drug treatment and sentence diversion program.
- 40 g of fentanyl; 5 g of meth; or 100 g of heroin are threshold quantities triggering a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 5 years.
- First time non-violent offenders may avoid mandatory minimums with the assistance of counsel.
- Possession of a gun or other weapon aggravates the offense and results in an increased sentence, unless the evidence is successfully challenged.
Federal drug offenses are very serious and most cases involve complex elements that include extensive investigations, multiple defendants or co-conspirators and other federal charges. The team at Nichols and Churchill has the specialized knowledge, skills and experience in the Maine federal court system to get you the best outcome possible.
Human Trafficking Federal Statute
Involuntary servitude and sex trafficking fall under Human Trafficking Crimes as defined at 22 U.S.C. s 7102. Any commercial sex act is prohibited under federal law and persons who are compelled and/or coerced into sex trafficking have protections under The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act.
If you or a loved one have been caught up in a sex-for-drugs scheme, or have been subjected to a sex trafficking ring, your federal drug crime charges may be reduced and/or dismissed.
A coerced or addicted offender is often granted leniency if the defense shows their vulnerability or subjugation by abuse to the court. At Nichols & Churchill, we get to know our client personally, so we can fight for the solutions that benefit them the most now, and in the future.
Attorneys Matthew Nichols and Sarah Churchill have successfully represented coerced offenders in Maine state and federal courts. There is help. Call us now or fill out the free case review form on this page to receive a confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.