In the vast majority of drug crime offenses in Houston, the prosecution will take place under state law. That said, there are powerful federal drug crime statutes that could also lead to a prosecution. While basic possession charges are typically heard in state court, federal crimes focus on larger-scale drug operations as well as crimes that occur across state lines. The end result is that federal drug crimes carry some of the toughest penalties available.
If you are facing federal drug charges, the deck is stacked against you from the start. Federal prosecutors have the strength of multiple government agencies to investigate your case. To protect your rights, it is critical that you discuss your case with a federal drug crimes defense lawyer. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to discuss your options.
Federal Drug Crimes Prosecuted in Texas
Most federal drug charges do not occur due to a lucky traffic stop. These cases typically come as a result of months or even years of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Drug Enforcement Agency. These cases often make use of wiretaps, undercover surveillance, and even controlled drug buys.
Federal drug crimes are serious given the potential sentences that are available. This is also not just an issue of a high maximum sentence as federal drug crimes typically carry mandatory minimum sentences. The end result is the potential for a life-changing stint in federal prison.
Types of Federal Drug Crimes
There are a few factors that are common with federal drug arrests. Most drug crimes that land in federal court are the result of a large drug bust. In many cases, they involve transactions across state lines. In other cases, a federal prosecutor could bring a drug charge if the arrest is made on federal property. Attorney Doug Murphy understands federal drug crimes and is prepared to work tirelessly to overcome those charges. Some common types of federal drug crimes include:
- Possession: Like with state law, there are federal laws about possession of a controlled substance. That said, simple possession charges are rare in federal court unless they occur on federal property or are a part of a larger drug case.
- Manufacturing: Large drug manufacturing or cultivating operations are a common target for federal prosecutors. These cases land in federal court when they involve large amounts of drugs or the manufacturing operation stretches across state lines.
- Trafficking: Any effort to distribute drugs – particularly across state lines – could result in a federal trafficking charge.
- Conspiracy: A federal drug conspiracy case involves an agreement between two or more parties to commit a drug crime. This conspiracy could involve elements of other crimes like manufacturing or trafficking drugs.
Facing Federal Charges in Houston
If you face prosecution on federal drug charges, your case will not be heard at a Texas state courthouse. Instead, the proceedings in your case will take place in federal court. Houston falls into Texas' Southern District. The federal court in Houston is located at:
Bob Casey United States Courthouse
15 Rusk Street
Houston, Texas 77002
The prosecution of federal crimes falls under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice. For every federal district, the President of the United States appoints a United States Attorney to oversee the prosecutions in the area. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas is headquartered in Houston.
Attorney Doug Murphy has extensive experience taking on U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of Texas. Understanding how these prosecutors operate is an important benefit as it could provide insight into how your case might proceed.
Penalties for a Federal Drug Crime
Every federal drug crime carries a minimum and maximum penalty. The court still maintains leeway in these sentences, however, as certain factors can adjust a penalty higher or lower. In each case, federal law will provide a sentencing range. For example, trafficking between 100 and 999 kilos of marijuana can lead to a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison or a maximum of up to 40 years.
To determine where in the range of possible penalties a sentence will fall, the court will consider multiple factors. First, the court will review your criminal history, if you have one. They will also consider the impact of the crime. If the crime involved violence or the sale of drugs to children, it is common for the court to apply a heavier sentence.
Collateral Consequences of a Federal Drug Conviction
There are other consequences for a federal drug conviction outside of the penalties prescribed by statute. Known as collateral consequences, these consequences occur as a result of a conviction but are not directly tied to the court proceedings.
Some collateral consequences for a federal drug conviction include:
- Loss of the right to vote
- Loss of the right to own a firearm
- Inability to become a U.S. citizen
- Inability to obtain a travel visa
- Loss of the right to own firearms
- Deportation for non-citizens
- Difficulty finding employment
- Difficulty finding housing.
Other consequences could have a financial impact, including restitution or asset forfeiture. When the federal government believes an asset was obtained illegally or used to further the crime, they can seize it.
While these consequences are severe, it is worth remembering that they usually occur upon conviction (except property can be seized at the time of the arrest or some time before trial). If you beat the charges against you, you can avoid these collateral consequences entirely.
How a Skilled Federal Drug Crimes Attorney Can Help
Taking on the federal government may seem like a daunting – if not impossible – task. On the contrary, with the help of a skilled defense attorney, average citizens beat federal drug charges frequently. While it is impossible to guarantee a positive outcome in your case, you can improve the chances of an acquittal with the help of a seasoned Houston federal drug crimes lawyer.
Attorney Doug Murphy is an experienced defense attorney with a record of success across the Houston area. His aggressive approach to fighting these cases has led to procuring dismissals and acquittals for his clients. To learn how you might be able to beat your drug charge, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible.