Cocaine has long been a primary target of the “War on Drugs” in the United States. Consequently, federal law enforcement agencies frequently conduct investigations into alleged cocaine trafficking and distribution operations. Those investigations may result in arrests for possession of cocaine or possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
If you have been charged with possession of cocaine by the federal government, you need an experienced federal defense attorney on your side to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the judicial process. At Haas Law, we have the experience, resources, and dedication necessary to protect and defend you if you have been charged with possession of cocaine by the federal government. Attorney David Haas has years of experience as a federal prosecutor and understands the ins-and-outs of the federal system. He will put his experience and knowledge to work fighting the charges against you.
Potential Penalties for Cocaine Possession
In the United States, state law enforcement agencies and courts tend to handle most cases involving the illegal possession of a controlled substance. Federal law enforcement agencies, on the other hand, usually target large-scale manufacturing and distribution operations. It is, however, illegal under U.S. federal law to possess a controlled substance unless you have a valid prescription. Because cocaine is not something for which you can ever have a valid prescription, possession of cocaine is always illegal. Whether you are arrested by a federal law enforcement officer by chance or you are caught up in a larger drug trafficking investigation, the penalties for possession of cocaine in federal court, if convicted, are serious.
A conviction for possession of any controlled substance at the federal level carries a potential penalty of up to one year in prison and/or a minimum fine of $1,000. A second conviction is punishable by not less than 15 days but not more than two years in prison and a minimum fine of $2,500. Subsequent convictions are punishable by not less than 90 days but not more than three years in prison and a minimum fine of $5,000.
If you were arrested as part of a large-scale drug manufacturing or trafficking investigation, you will likely be charged with a more serious offense, such as conspiracy to distribute cocaine and/or trafficking cocaine. Cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance according to the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The potential penalties for trafficking 500-4999 grams of a substance containing cocaine include a term of imprisonment of five to 40 years and/or a fine of up to $5 million. If death or serious injury occurs, you face 20 years to life. If convicted a second time, you face a term of imprisonment of ten years to life and/or a fine of up to $8 million. If death or serious injuries occur, you are facing a sentence of life in prison.
Possible Defenses to Cocaine Possession Charges
When federal law enforcement officers are responsible for a narcotics arrest, there is a good chance that they have been watching and/or listening to the parties involved for weeks, even months. That makes it especially important to consult with an experienced defense attorney right away – as soon as you suspect you are being investigated or as soon as you are aware of allegations against you.
As a defendant, you have several important constitutional rights; however, you must know when and how to assert those rights for government officials to provide the intended protections. An experienced cocaine possession defense attorney will look out for your rights and make sure they are protected. In addition, your attorney will start working on a defense plan immediately, which may include any or all the following potential strategies:
- Moving to exclude evidence. Evidence may have been obtained through a wiretap, audio or video surveillance, or a traditional search and seizure. If any of that evidence was obtained without the law enforcement officers first obtaining the proper authority, it may have been obtained illegally. If so, your attorney may try to get the evidence excluded so that it cannot be used against you at trial.
- Challenging the strength of evidence. To convict you of possession of cocaine, the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes, the case against a defendant is weak, and the prosecution cannot prove its high burden. When that is the case, it is often best to simply focus on the prosecution’s failure as a defense.
- Questioning the reliability/credibility of an informant. Drug investigations frequently make use of a “Confidential Informant (CI).” The prosecution must prove that the CI is reliable and credible for anything the CI said/did to be used against a defendant. Your attorney may attack the reliability and/or credibility of a CI, if one was involved in your arrest.
Get Help from Experienced Cocaine Possession Federal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged by the federal government with possession of cocaine or another criminal offense involving cocaine, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced cocaine possession defense attorney right away. Consulting with a cocaine possession defense attorney at Haas Law early on will allow us to protect your rights from the outset, as well as provide us with sufficient time to develop and prepare an aggressive defense strategy for your case.
When you are facing serious federal drug charges, you need a serious, strong defense. At Haas Law, we put our years of experience, knowledge and skills to work building the strongest defense possible for you. You can depend on us to provide the kind of defense you need to protect your rights and fight for your future.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. We understand that time is of the essence when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you, so our calls are answered 24 hours a day to allow you to schedule an appointment to discuss your legal options as soon as possible.