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Drug crimes in the United States can be prosecuted at the federal and state levels. Federal drug crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences. Individuals who are convicted on a federal drug charge are generally sentenced to several years in federal prison and may also be ordered to pay fines. Florida’s geography makes the sunshine state a prime location for drug-related offenses. To the general public, deciphering the differences between a state drug charge and a federal drug charge is often confusing. However, being charged with a federal offense is drastically different than facing a state charge. A federal charge calls for representation by a uniquely qualified attorney. Ohle & Ohle defend federal drug trafficking charges and narcotics manufacturing charges in Fort Pierce and throughout the Treasure Coast of Florida.

How the federal government defines a narcotic

Most people associate heroin and cocaine with the term “narcotics.” The Controlled Substances Act defines a narcotic as any mixture or compound that includes:

  • opium, opiates, and related derivatives
  • poppy straw and poppy straw concentrates
  • cocoa leaves
  • cocaine, cocaine salts, and isomers
  • ecgonine and ecgonine derivatives, sals, and isomers

Federal laws on drug manufacturing

Federal law outlaws knowingly or intentionally manufacturing, distributing, and dispensing a counterfeit substance. An individual may be charged with a federal drug manufacturing charge if he or she participates in any part of the narcotics manufacturing process, including providing production equipment or chemicals. A person can also be charged with violating the federal drug manufacturing law if he or she manages a facility where narcotics are allegedly manufactured. People who are involved in a conspiracy to manufacture or distribute drugs across state lines can be charged in federal court even if the conspiracy never comes to fruition.

Knowledge and intent are required elements in the prosecution must prove to successfully obtain a conviction in a federal narcotics manufacturing case. Therefore, an individual who manages a facility or supplies equipment or chemicals without knowing drugs are being manufactured cannot be found guilty of drug manufacturing.

State vs. Federal narcotics manufacturing charges in Fort Pierce

From inception to finish, the process of prosecuting a federal narcotics manufacturing charge differs significantly from the state criminal court process. State and federal charges are investigated by and prosecuted by different entities. Most federal drug charges are felonies. The federal judges and prosecutors who handle federal criminal cases are generally highly esteemed, seasoned legal professionals. Experienced attorneys who are thoroughly experienced in federal criminal court matters can provide the best representation to defendants who are facing federal drug charges.

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When a drug manufacturing charge becomes a federal offense

In most drug cases, the federal government will defer to the state. This is especially true of cases that involve simple possession or distribution of small quantities of drugs. However, if a drug case involves large quantities or travels across state or international borders, the federal government will typically aid in the investigation and handle prosecution. Federal drug cases will often begin with a local law enforcement agency making an arrest for what appears to be a simple possession charge. When drug charges become federal, you need the expertise of a skilled Fort Pierce federal defense lawyer.

Federal narcotics manufacturing investigations

When the federal government decides to investigate a potential narcotics manufacturing case, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is most often the agency that leads the investigation. The DEA may work in cooperation with county and state police departments to monitor suspicious activities, conduct sting operations, and detain and interview persons of interest.

During a sting operation, one or more law enforcement officers will pose as people who have an interest in selling, purchasing, or participating in the narcotics manufacturing process. They may pretend to be suppliers or people who can aid in the storage, distribution, or transportation of narcotic drugs and the ingredients drug labs utilize to make illegal drugs. The undercover agents will interact with people who are involved in the narcotics trade and attempt to infiltrate criminal organizations. As the agents interact with the involved parties, they gather information until they have enough to conduct an arrest and support a U.S. attorney’s case for criminal prosecution.

In some instances, law enforcement officials may engage in unethical activity to entrap people who may otherwise not have engaged in criminal activity. People who are arrested in sting operations require the immediate assistance of a federal drug crimes attorney to protect their legal rights against potential infringement and wrongful conviction.

Mandatory minimum sentencing in federal drug cases

Federal law classifies drugs based on their potential for abuse and dependency among other factors. Narcotic drugs are typically categorized as Schedule I and Schedule II drugs, which have the highest risk for dependency and abuse. Federal law requires federal court judges to follow mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines in cases involving individuals who have been convicted on a federal drug charge.

Schedule I and II drug offenses are the most serious. Therefore, these offenses carry the harshest sentences among all drug crimes. An individual who is convicted of federal narcotics manufacturing for the first time faces a minimum of five years in federal prison. The maximum sentence for first-time federal drug offenders is 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million.

If a federal drug manufacturing case involves serious injury or death, the mandatory minimum sentence increases to a minimum of 10 years in prison with a possible maximum sentence of life in prison. Repeat offenders face longer mandatory minimum prison sentences. In some cases that involve injury or death, a convicted repeat offender may automatically be sentenced to life in prison.

Federal narcotics manufacturing defense lawyers in Fort Pierce

When facing a federal drug crime, taking immediate action and retaining counsel can dramatically impact case outcome. Even if you have been formally accused of a serious federal crime, you have rights. Consulting retaining a private defense lawyer is the best way to safeguard your rights, protect your reputation, and ensure you have an advocate who will look out for you throughout the criminal court process and after. Contact Ohle & Ohle today to learn more about our Fort Pierce federal drug crimes attorneys.


Why Choose Ohle & Ohle?
“We were in a bar in Port St Lucie minding our own business when this guy started hitting on my girlfriend. The argument escalated into a fight and suddenly the police were there and I got arrested and they charged me with assault. I found criminal attorney Mike Ohle on the internet, called him and set up a consultation that same day. As I described the events of my situation, Mike shared his experience as an assault and battery lawyer defending people wrongly accused of a crime. I’d highly recommend him to anyone who has been arrested anywhere in the Treasure coast.”
~ Max Bannister, Google Reviewer
Unlike many large, high-volume firms, we’ll treat you like an individual, and with compassion and understanding. Whether you’re facing criminal charges, going through a divorce or injured in an accident, what you need most right now is someone who will listen and provide you with the best possible representation throughout your unique case.
Several law firms from West Palm Beach claim to specialize in Treasure Coast cases, when in fact they don’t even have an office here. Leanne and Michael Ohle were born and raised in the Treasure Coast, and know the ins and outs of its legal system. We have offices in Fort Pierce and Stuart, and can come to you, depending on the situation.
The attorneys at Ohle & Ohle have proudly served Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie and the rest of the Treasure Coast for the past 48 years. We pride ourselves on our deep-rooted, strong ties to the community, which we believe gives us a clear advantage over our non-local competitors.
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(772) 460-9801