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If you are facing federal drug charges in Shelby County, no one needs to tell you that the matter is serious. Federal prosecutors and investigators typically have tremendous resources and experience handling drug cases, so you need to have experienced professionals working on your behalf as well.

In a major federal lawsuit, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that you have legal rights and that you deserve to have those rights protected. A Shelby County federal drug lawyer who is familiar with how federal drug cases are prosecuted at the local level could work to build a strong defense strategy based on your circumstances and help you achieve the best possible outcome. Call a seasoned attorney today to get started on your case.

Differences Between State and Federal Drug Charges

Most drug offenses in Shelby County can be charged at either the state or federal level because U.S. and Alabama laws are similar in many respects. For instance, both federal and state statutes prohibit the possession of marijuana. As a practical matter, however, most drug crimes are prosecuted in state courts.

When individuals are charged with federal drug crimes, it is often because they have been caught on federal property or by a federal agent. Other times, drug crimes are prosecuted federally because the offense could potentially involve more than one state, such as in drug trafficking offenses.

Drug crimes are also frequently prosecuted at the federal level when the offense is particularly severe, such as crimes involving the sale or manufacturing of controlled substances. If the case against someone charged with a state drug crime looks especially strong, sometimes federal prosecutors will step in and turn a state case into a federal one.

Types of Federal Drug Charges

Federal drug charges apply not only to substances that are illegal in and of themselves such as cocaine or LSD but also to legally prescribed drugs such as oxycodone when they are distributed, manufactured, or used in violation of the law.

Some commonly-charged federal drug crimes include:

  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Possession with intent to distribute
  • Manufacturing or packaging controlled substances
  • Creating or distributing a counterfeit substance
  • Selling controlled substances
  • Drug trafficking
  • Conspiracy

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

One of the key differences between state and federal drug charges are the sentencing guidelines. Terms of imprisonment are often lengthier and more likely to include mandatory minimum sentences at the federal level.

As might be expected based on the complexity of federal drug laws, the guidelines for sentencing those convicted are equally complex. The guidelines take into account a convicted individual’s criminal history as well as the severity of the current offense. Each crime is assigned a basic offense level which, taken together with various other factors, determines which zone the individual is placed in for sentencing.

Sentences in the first zone are the most lenient, ranging from no term of imprisonment up to six months of imprisonment. By contrast, sentences in the last zone can extend up to life in prison. The harsh federal sentencing is why someone who is charged with a drug crime should seek the services of a federal drug attorney in Shelby County. An accomplished lawyer can also assist with federal appeals for drug crimes.

Contact a Federal Drug Lawyer

Despite the severity of federal drug offenses, there may be successful defense strategies that experienced federal drug attorneys know when and how to use to greatest effect. In order to collect relevant evidence and to avoid taking actions or making statements that could jeopardize your case, it is a good idea to secure representation from a Shelby County federal drug lawyer as soon as possible.

If you are facing or expect to face federal drug charges, an attorney who understands federal drug crimes could explain your options and passionately advocate on your behalf to bring about the best possible result in your case.