When you face federal drug charges in South Carolina, know that you are up against some of the sternest prosecutors who push for some of the stiffest penalties. In addition to disrupting your immediate life, many of these penalties have the potential to disrupt your long-term future.
If you were arrested for a federal drug crime, or if you suspect an arrest is coming, retain the help of an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer in South Carolina right away. The team at Shealey Law Firm is closely familiar with federal drug laws and can help build a strong and viable defense.
Federal Drug Crimes We Defend Against
We defend all manner of federal drug crimes at Shealey Law Firm. Our criminal defense team has a long track record of success in the following types of drug cases.
Possession is the most minor of the federal drug charges and entails knowingly or intentionally carrying a controlled substance without a prescription and with the intent to use it for personal reasons. Though the penalties for possession vary depending on the type and amount of the drug in question, this charge could result in thousands of dollars in fines and years in prison for a first-time offender.
Manufacturing and distribution
Drug manufacturing and distribution are more serious drug offenses that come with the possibility of between one and 20 years in prison and many thousands in fines. Penalties increase depending on the severity of the crime, the drugs involved and whether you have prior offenses.
Depending on the drug and amount of drug in question, trafficking can have some harsh penalties. Depending on the schedule of the drug, you are looking at maximum sentences between one and 30 years and potential fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Though typically a state crime, prescription fraud becomes a federal offense when one or more persons conspire or attempt to conspire to commit prescription fraud. When several people are involved, the federal government considers it a “pill mill” operation, triggering swift and active investigations from federal law enforcement agencies.
Regardless of the type of federal drug charges you face, do not take a chance with your future. Retain the help of a federal drug lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you understand federal drug laws, navigate the legal system and do what is necessary to defend your rights.
National Drug Scheduling
If you face federal drug charges in South Carolina, it may prove helpful to understand the federal drug schedule. The drug schedule classifies drugs and ranks them based on their recognized medical use and likelihood of abuse and dependency. Below is a brief overview of the national drug schedule:
- Schedule 1: These are drugs that have a high risk for misuse and that have little to no recognized medical usage. They include drugs such as marijuana, LSD, heroin and ecstasy.
- Schedule 2: The DEA considers Schedule 2 drugs to be dangerous and to come with a high risk of abuse and both psychological and physical dependence. Drugs within this category include oxycodone, methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine.
- Schedule 3: Schedule 3 drugs are drugs that carry little risk for abuse but that can trigger dependency. They do have recognized medical uses. Drugs within this category include ketamine, steroids, Tylenol with codeine and testosterone.
- Schedule 4: Drugs within this category include Ambien, Valium, Tramadol and Xanax. They have recognized medical uses and a low risk for abuse.
- Schedule 5: Schedule 5 drugs are considered the most “safe” and, as such, can be sold over the counter. They include Robitussin, Lyrica and Lomotil.
Though the federal government takes all drug offenses seriously, the penalties are more severe the lower on the schedule the involved drugs fall.
When Is a Drug Charge Considered a Federal Crime?
There are a few instances in which state drug crimes may become federal drug crimes. If you face drug charges, it is important to understand the nuances that could elevate a state crime to a federal one and vice versa — those that may reduce a federal charge to a state charge. Your federal drug lawyer can help you better understand what factors may affect your charges.
However, in the meantime, consider that most courts elevate charges when the following circumstances exist:
- There is a large number of drugs in question.
- A large drug trafficking conspiracy is part of the equation.
- You cross state lines while in possession of any amount of drug.
- You commit a drug crime on national lands, such as in a national park or on a military reserve.
- A federal agency was hired to investigate your drug crime.
These are just a few factors that may elevate state drug charges to federal ones.
What Is the Difference Between State vs. Federal Drug Charges?
There are a few factors that distinguish state drug crimes from federal charges. At the most basic level, the difference lies in who does the prosecuting. If you face state charges, your state court will oversee your case. If you face federal charges, on the other hand, the federal courts will handle it.
Another and more meaningful difference between state and federal drug charges is the severity of punishments. Most state prosecutors attempt to keep drug charges at a misdemeanor level, which means more lenient penalties. Federal courts, however, often charge all drug crimes as felonies.
Moreover, the federal courts maintain mandatory sentencing minimums for drug crimes, with most crimes carrying five- or 10-year mandatory minimum prison terms.
Fight Federal Drug Charges With Skilled Lawyers Serving South Carolina
Federal drug charges are serious, and their consequences have the potential to haunt you for a lifetime. For this reason, if you face federal charges, do not attempt to fight them on your own.
Retain the help of an experienced federal drug attorney in South Carolina. For the aggressive and competent legal help you need at this difficult time in your life, contact us at Shealey Law Firm today.