Understanding Federal
Drug Crimes in New York

Facing a federal drug crime charge can have a lasting impact on your future. You may feel hopeless and scared. Federal drug convictions usually carry stiff penalties and potentially life-long consequences. It’s imperative that you take immediate action and speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your life, your career, and your livelihood could be at risk.

At the Melanson Law Office, you are much more than a criminal accusation. I have the knowledge and resources necessary to strategize a relentless defense. As a former prosecutor, I know the other side’s approach and will come prepared. Contact me today for a consultation. I represent clients throughout the Hudson Valley including Kingston, Hudson, Catskill, and Highland, New York.

What is Considered a Federal Drug Crime?

Common federal drug crimes can involve possession, manufacturing, distribution, and conspiracy. However, whether or not your case is charged at the state or federal level is dependent upon a wide range of factors, including, but not limited to:

Where you were arrested: If you were arrested for having or using drugs on federal property, such as a national park, then you will be charged with a federal drug crime.

Who you were arrested by: If you were arrested by a federal officer, then you could be charged at the federal level. A federal officer could be involved through an operation with local law enforcement, or due to you being on federal property.

Whether a cross-state shipment was involved: If a multi-state operation, wherein drugs were moved across state lines, is uncovered through an investigation, then you, as well as anyone involved are likely to be charged with federal offenses.

The quantity of drugs involved: If you are arrested for possession or trafficking a small amount of drugs, then it is probable that you will be charged at the state level. If you are alleged to be involved with, say, an operation involving growing large quantities of marijuana, then you will likely be charged at the federal level. While every case is different, it is typical that an arrest involving the sale or possession of large quantities of drugs will be handled at the federal level.

The scope of the conspiracy: A drug conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit a drug crime. A federal drug conspiracy involves an agreement to violate federal drug laws. If you are charged with criminal conspiracy to commit a federal drug crime, you can face a sentence that is as severe as those who were charged with, for example, manufacturing or trafficking the drugs involved. This makes the element of conspiracy incredibly important to consider.

The severity of the punishment of the crime you are charged with will depend on a wide range of factors such as the type of drug involved, as governed by the Controlled Substances Act.

Controlled Substances Act

When a substance is defined as “controlled,” this means that the use and distribution of that particular substance is governed by law. Drugs that are considered controlled substances, as defined by the Controlled Substances Act, are divided into five schedules. 

These schedules categorize drugs depending on whether or not they have any medical use in the United States and their level of possible dependence or abuse. Schedule V encompasses drugs that are regularly prescribed for medical treatment while Schedule I drugs have no use in medical treatment.

Some examples of drugs in each schedule are listed below:

  • Schedule I: LSD, Heroin
  • Schedule II: Morphine, Cocaine
  • Schedule III: Hydrocodone, Codeine
  • Schedule IV: Benzodiazepines
  • Schedule V: Cough medicine with codeine that is available over-the-counter

The schedule of the drug that is involved in your charge will impact the severity of your punishment, with the punishment increasing as the schedule of the drug involved decreases. 

Possible Penalties for a Federal Drug Crime

The penalties for a federal drug crime vary and increase depending on many factors, a few of which are:

  • The amount of the controlled substance involved
  • Whether or not weapons were involved
  • If the location of the crime was in close proximity to a school
  • If you are a repeat offender

Typically, there is a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment when you have been convicted of a federal drug crime. This minimum sentence could range from less than a year in prison to life, depending on the factors listed above. 

How Melanson Law Office can Help

According to the Center for American Progress, in 2015, the federal government spent an estimated $9.2 million every day to incarcerate people with drug-related offenses. Dealing with a federal drug crime is incredibly serious and requires the help of a competent and skilled attorney. As your criminal defense attorney, I will consider all of the possible defense strategies when examining your case. Some possible defenses may include:

  • Lack of intent
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Entrapment

The important thing to remember is that, if you have been arrested on a federal drug crime charge, you should seek legal help as soon as possible. This does not have to define your life. I can help you move forward.

Contact Melanson Law Office today in Kingston, New York for an attorney you can count on.


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