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Understanding federal drug indictments

Understanding federal drug indictments

A large-scale investigation over the course of 21 months has resulted in nine people, including several Minnesota residents, receiving indictments on federal drug charges. According to the Wahpeton Daily News, a joint task force involving the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and agencies from two other states discovered that more than $2.5 million worth of methamphetamine had been funneled through two counties in Minnesota. The defendants were all charged with distribution of a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute.

Laws at the federal level and in every state prohibit the manufacture, sale and possession of controlled substances such as methamphetamine. A drug crime lawyer Minneapolis understands that federal indictments can be far more serious than cases handled at a state level.

What is a federal indictment?

There are several ways someone may be charged at the federal level instead of in a state court, and those situations including the following:

  • Committing a drug crime on federal property
  • Committing a drug crime that involves an undercover federal agent
  • State and federal prosecutors decided to try the case at the federal level

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 30,000 people were arrested in 2010 on federal charges of drug trafficking or other drug crimes, which constituted 16.1 percent of all federal arrests.

Typically, cases handled at the federal level involve trafficking and the distribution of large amounts of illegal drugs. Therefore, someone who is caught selling or making illegal substances may face a federal charge. Someone who is charged with possession will usually deal with the matter in a state court.

Penalties involved

As a drug crime lawyer in Minneapolis knows, a key difference between drug charges at the state and federal level is the severity of consequences should a defendant be convicted. A federal conviction typically carries much harsher penalties, including longer prison sentences. In fact, some federal drug charges come with a mandatory minimum sentence of five to 10 years. Federal judges follow the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide a point system to determine the punishment. A judge will typically weigh a defendant’s role in the illegal activity in order to hand down a sentence surrounding drug indictments.

In the case involving the Minnesota residents, the defendants were sentenced to punishments ranging from one year to 68 months in prison. Some of the people involved were identified as career criminals, which means they could face as much as 360 months to life in prison.

Anyone with questions regarding state or federal drug indictments should speak with a drug crime lawyer in Minneapolis.

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