Federal Drug Charges with Mandatory-Minimum Sentences More Likely

On May 10, 2017, much to the dismay of many advocates of criminal justice reform, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions informed federal prosecutors in a memorandum that the Justice Department would return to aggressively enforcing Federal drug laws.  This change, which represents a sharp departure from the policies of the Obama administration, almost certainly means that those prosecuted for drug trafficking crimes in federal court will face far more severe penalties when convicted, including stiff mandatory minimum sentences that can range from five years to life in prison.

Federal Drug Crimes and Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Former-Federal Prosecutor Heath M. Lynch

It is commonly known that the Obama Administration substantially rolled back federal drug prosecutions, particularly the charging of crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences.  But in the May 10 memorandum, A.G. Sessions announced that prosecutors must once again charge the “most serious, readily provable offense[s],” which he defined as “those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”

This national policy change means that federal prosecutors will once again be expected to use mandatory minimums frequently and aggressively.  For defendants who have been convicted of one or more drug felonies in the past, federal prosecutors may also file a “supplemental information” that doubles the applicable mandatory minimum from five to ten years, or from ten to twenty years.  When sentencing a defendant convicted of such a drug crime, the federal sentencing judge has little to no discretion and must sentence him or her to at least the minimum term.

If you have been charged or anticipate being charged with a drug trafficking crime in state or federal court, you need experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel.  The vast majority of federal drug cases begin with investigations and charges by state prosecutors, which are then “adopted” by agents of the DEA, ATF, FBI, and other federal agencies for federal prosecution.  Timing can be critical, and intervention and aggressive representation by experienced defense counsel can make a real difference, often saving defendants years in prison. Knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys know when to challenge search warrants, traffic stops, and other law enforcement tactics.

Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law is experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to drug trafficking prosecutions.  In fact, two of the firm’s attorneys worked as federal drug prosecutors before coming to the firm.  Both spent years leading and directing drug investigations, know exactly how federal agents develop a drug case, and can help identify potential weaknesses in your case. Two other attorneys are former FBI Special Agents who investigated federal crimes and helped build cases for federal prosecutors.

If you or a loved one are facing federal drug charges, please visit our federal drug crimes web page or call 616-458-5500 for a free case evaluation.