As state and federal law enforcement agencies increased their efforts to combat both illicit and prescription drugs in the United States in recent years, a new class of drugs emerged collectively referred to as “synthetic drugs.” For the most part, synthetic drugs are substances that were once legal and marketed as things such as bath salts, incense, or potpourri. Both state and federal authorities, however, have since passed laws making many of these synthetic drugs illegal. As a result, if you have been charged with synthetic drug trafficking you are facing serious penalties.
At Haas Law, we have the experience, skills, and commitment to successfully defend clients who have been charged with synthetic drug trafficking by the federal government. Let us put our experience and resources to work protecting your rights and defending the accusations made against you if you have been charged with trafficking synthetic drugs.
What Are Synthetic Drugs?
Synthetic stimulants, commonly referred to as “jewelry cleaner” or “bath salts,” are synthetic cathinones, and include such drugs as MDPV, a-PVP, pentedrone, pentylone, mephedrone and methylone. Known by such names as “K2,” “Kush,” and “Spice,” synthetic marijuana involves synthetic cannabinoids that have been applied to plant material such as damiana or marshmallow leaf. While these substances may be labeled as not for human consumption, the manufacturers often label them that way specifically to avoid the oversight of the Food and Drug Administration.
According to the Office of the National Drug Control Policy, the effects of synthetic cannabinoids include severe agitation and anxiety, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia (fast, racing heartbeat), elevated blood pressure, tremors and seizures, hallucinations, dilated pupils, and suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions. Similar to the adverse effects of cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamine, synthetic cathinone use is associated with increased heart rate and blood pressure, chest pain, extreme paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, and violent behavior, which causes users to harm themselves or others.
Potential Penalties for a Synthetic Drug Trafficking Conviction
The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, part of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act of 2012, placed 26 types of synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Drugs listed in Schedule I of the CSA are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Federal law also allows many synthetic drugs to be treated as a listed controlled substance if they are chemically and/or pharmacologically similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance. The penalties you may face if convicted of synthetic drug trafficking, therefore, are often the same as those for illicit or prescription drugs.
As a general rule, a conviction for trafficking Schedule I or II drugs as a first offense exposes you to a minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison. For a second offense, your potential sentencing range is 10 years to life and if death or serious injury occurs, you face life in prison. If larger quantities are involved you face a potential punishment of 10 years to life for a first offense and 15 years to life in prison for a second offense.
For Schedule I or II drugs that are not considered chemically and/or pharmacologically similar to a listed drug, you may still face up to 20 years in prison for a first offense and up to 30 years for a second offense.
Common Defense Strategies for Synthetic Drug Trafficking
Ultimately, the defense strategy that you and your attorney decide on will depend on the unique facts and circumstances involved in your case; however, there are some common defense strategies used in synthetic drug trafficking prosecutions, including:
- The substance fails to qualify as a “synthetic drug.” By their very nature, synthetic drugs are chemically complex substances. Frequently, the addition or subtraction of a single ingredient, or changing the formula of known ingredients, can turn a legal substance into an illegal drug. After expert analysis, your defense attorney may be able to prove that the substance in question does not meet the definition of a synthetic drug.
- Challenging the legality of a search. Law enforcement officers are allowed to conduct legal searches and seizures; however, they must follow proper procedure from start to finish for the search to be legal. Challenging the legality of a search and seizure is a common defense strategy in drug trafficking cases. If the search was conducted illegally, any evidence seized during the search will be inadmissible at trial.
- Insufficient evidence. The prosecution bears the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in the U.S. criminal justice system. If the evidence is flimsy, the best defense strategy may be to simply rely on the fact that the prosecution cannot meet that burden.
Get Help from Experienced Orlando Synthetic Drug Trafficking Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of synthetic drug trafficking by the federal government, consult with an experienced synthetic drug trafficking defense attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the prosecution of your case.
At Haas Law, our synthetic drug trafficking defense attorneys have the knowledge, experience, and commitment necessary to protect and defend you throughout the prosecution of your case.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. Because we understand that time is of the essence when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you, our calls are answered 24 hours a day, allowing you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.