One of the first things that anyone arrested on drug charges wants to do is understand the charges. The different charges can lead to different punishments, and some of those punishments are much more serious than others.
In Texas, you can face charges for the possession, manufacture or distribution of drugs under state law. The severity of these charges may vary with the type of drug, the amount and other circumstances, such as the presence of a minor. However, if federal prosecutors believe you broke any federal laws, they may also pursue federal drug charges.
Drug conspiracy is a federal crime
Federal law defines drug conspiracy in 21 U.S.C. § 846. This section is labeled “attempt and conspiracy,” and it follows a list of other offenses, such as the possession, manufacturing, importing and distribution of controlled drugs. There are two remarkable points to this section:
- First, section 846 makes it a crime to attempt or conspire to commit any of the other listed drug offenses
- Second, drug charges filed under section 846 can lead to the same penalties as the crimes that people were supposedly attempting
Drug conspiracy charges are no joke. Whether or not you actually produced, sold or even possessed the drugs you supposedly “conspired” to produce, sell or own, you could face serious jail time and massive fines. In general, federal drug charges are more serious than state charges. Federal charges often carry mandatory minimum sentences, and federal agencies have tremendous resources to build their cases.
What are the defenses against drug conspiracy charges?
The best defense against a drug conspiracy charge will change with the facts of the case. However, there are several considerations. The first of these is what the prosecution needs to prove. To convict someone of drug conspiracy, prosecutors must show:
- An agreement existed between two or more people to break a federal drug law
- The defendant knew of the agreement
- The defendant joined the agreement willingly
Your defense against such charges could focus on the flaws of any parts of this argument. Perhaps someone added your email to a thread by mistake or without your knowledge. Perhaps someone was threatening you, and you felt forced to go along with the plan. Your defense might also focus on the underlying charges. The seriousness of a drug conspiracy charge may depend on the types and amounts of drugs in question.
Know your rights
Facing a drug conspiracy charge means facing the might and resources of the federal government. But it doesn’t mean accepting an unjust conviction. You have rights. Among the most important of these rights are your rights to remain silent, work with an attorney and seek a jury trial. If you face charges, you want to assert your rights immediately. The sooner you exercise your rights, the more likely you can reach a fair outcome.