Facing a Federal Drug Charge in New Jersey
By far one of the most common reasons for an arrest in the United States involves drugs in some way shape or form, whether it be marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, MDMA, or cocaine. Drug crimes can range anywhere from simple possession or distribution cases to trafficking or manufacturing case. These types of crimes have been around since the beginning of time and by their nature, they can be prosecuted in either the local State Court or in Federal Court. It probably goes without saying but when the Federal Government decides to prosecute someone the stakes are definitely raised. Typically speaking, the potential sentences imposed in Federal Court for a drug-related crime will be significantly worse than most would receive in State Court. Most federal drug arrests and prosecutions will involve an allegation of trafficking a significant quantity of drugs or the crime itself occurred on federal property like Sandy Hook or Fort Dix’s. If you are the target of a federal drug investigation by the FBI, DEA or any other agency for that matter or are charged criminally and would like to speak to one of the criminal defense attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law, please call 732.858.6959.
Common Federal Drug Charges Issued in New Jersey
It is no secret that our Country as a whole has been dealing with a major drug problem. When it comes to prosecuting these types of cases, the Federal Government is typically looking to investigate and prosecute those who are trafficking significant quantities. With that being said, they don’t just prosecute the head of the organization, they will prosecute anyone involved down to the individuals who are tasked with breaking down and packaging the drugs. Over the years we have seen a major push from the government to prosecute those distributing prescription drugs, like Oxycontin, Codeine and Percocet’s. In recent times, heroin and fentanyl have become a very common drug that we see being aggressively investigated and prosecuted. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has broken down certain substances into five different categories (“Schedules”): they are as follows:
- Schedule I: Marijuana, Heroin, LSD & Ecstasy
- Schedule II: Cocaine, Morphine, OxyContin, Adderall, Methamphetamine & Fentanyl
- Schedule III: Steroids, Ketamine & Vicodin
- Schedule IV: Ambien, Xanax & Valium
- Schedule V: Robitussin, Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica & Parepectolin
Why am I being Prosecuted Federally?
Drug crimes for the most part fall under by both State and Federal jurisdiction. In fact, there is no prohibition against being prosecuted in both jurisdictions for what amounts to the same conduct. With that being said, if the Federal Government chooses to investigate and prosecute, the State will more likely than not decline prosecution. Typically speaking, the State will be confined to prosecuting crimes that occur within their geographical region. In contrast, the Federal Government can prosecute those crimes that cross State lines or that occur on Federal Property. As one would imagine, for the most part, all drug trafficking and distribution cases will cross State lines, thus giving them the ability to prosecute if they so choose.
Who investigates Federal Drug Crimes?
Even though the FBI, DEA or some other federal agency was the one who formally placed the individual under arrest, a lot of federal drug investigations derive from tips from local law enforcement agencies throughout the State. As a result, these investigations can also involve joint task forces. In other words, they can combine forces so that both actively participate in the investigation. These investigations involve various techniques, including but not limited to the use of undercovers, confidential informants, wire-taps, controlled buys and sting operations. Confidential informants are used often in federal drug investigations as they are always trying to get to the top. Therefore, it is not uncommon for these investigations to linger on for years.
How Serious is a Federal Drug Charge?
As previously stated, when the federal government elects to prosecute an individual for a drug offense, the potential penalties that an individual faces can be harsh. In the Federal system, a number of drug related sentences require the imposition of a mandatory minimum term in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Federal system also includes enhanced penalties for those convicted of two or more serious drug related offenses provided they are deemed a career offender. It is important to note here that any custodial sentence imposed in the Federal system will require the individual to serve at least 85% of their sentence before they can be released. With that being said, depending on the facts surrounding the case and the individual’s prior criminal history, they may be eligible for what is known as the safety-valve, which could eliminate the mandatory parole ineligibility period.
What is the Bail on a Federal Drug Trafficking Charge?
The federal system uses basically a risk assessment scale to determine if an individual will be eligible for pretrial release (bail) and if so, what the conditions of release should be. Some potential conditions could include the following: house arrest, electronic monitoring, cash bail and monthly reporting requirements. Prior to a pretrial detention hearing taking place, pretrial services will be called upon to develop a packet filled with personal background information in an effort to help assist the Judge in making their decision making. The two major factors that a Judge will be forced to consider when making such a decision is whether the individual will pose a danger to community if released and if they are a flight risk. These are important hearings, it is always much easier to defend a criminal case when the client is not detained pretrial.
Being Investigated by the FBI for a Drug Charge in NJ
Being investigated criminally can be extremely nerve-racking but when the FBI or DEA is heading up the investigation, the pressure most feel can be insurmountable. More so then ever, understanding your options when being investigated by federal agents is paramount to mounting a successful defense. If you find yourself as the target of a federal drug investigation, charged with trafficking narcotics or charged federally, and would like to speak to one of the criminal defense attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law, then please feel free to contact us directly at 732.858.6959. We appear in Federal Court in Camden, Newark and Trenton. So if you need any assistance, do not hesitate to contact us.