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What Options Do I Have If I Am Convicted Of a Federal Drug Charge?



Once you are convicted of a federal drug charge or you plead guilty to it, at that point the sentencing is going to be up to the judge. The judge will have the discretion on whether or not you will receive a large sentence or a small sentence or something in the middle. A probation department would get involved. They would do a report and make a recommendation to the judge as to what they think the sentence should be. Your criminal defense attorney will be able to put a sentencing position in with the judge and argue on your behalf. Finally, the prosecutor will be permitted to put in their position as to what they think the sentence should be. The judge will then hear from you if you choose to make any statement. The judge will then make a decision as to what your sentence should be.

Can I Appeal A Federal Drug Charge Conviction?

Convicted Of a Federal Drug ChargeOnce you are found guilty and sentenced in the case you will be advised that you have a certain period of time in order to file a notice of appeal. Once that notice of appeal is filed then you will either be appointed counsel, you can represent yourself or you can hire your own criminal defense attorney. Your criminal defense attorney is the one who decides what issues are appealable and what issues are not appealable. Not all cases should be appealed because sometimes there is no issue to appeal. In order to be successful on a federal appeal, there is going to be some need for issues that are appealable. The federal court decides that certain things done at the trial, for example, were not fair, such as certain jury instructions were allowed in or certain evidence was allowed in. This is really a question that you need to talk to your attorney that did the trial for you about or talk to a new attorney. Let them review the trial transcript, talk to you about what happened and then make a decision as to whether or not an appeal is in your best interests and worth your while.

How Long Do Federal Appeals Take In Drug-Related Cases?

Federal appeals in drug-related cases do take quite some time to appeal and that is kind of determined by how much evidence there is for your appellate lawyer to go over. If there was a trial, for example, how much trial testimony was there? It’s kind of determined on the size of the case and what the appellate lawyers do in order to get prepared to file their opening brief and then litigate the case on your behalf. It could take months and it could even take years in order to get an appellate case off the ground and actually get the judges to rule on some of the appellate issues. As far as your chances on appeal, that’s going to be determined on whether or not you have appealable issues. This is something that needs to be discussed with a seasoned federal criminal defense attorney who knows your case and knows what the issues are related to it.

What Is The Federal Indictment Process In a Drug-Related Case?

The federal indictment process in a drug-related case is when a branch of the federal government will investigate your case, whether it is the FBI, Secret Service or Homeland Security. There is a whole list of federal agencies that investigate drug crimes. Once they get this information together, they will typically take the information to a federal prosecutor. They are called an Assistant United States Attorney. They will review it and then they will determine whether or not a case can be filed against you. The indictment is basically the charging document that is utilized in order to charge you with the crime. You are given a copy of that and then your attorney is permitted to review it as well and decide exactly how to deal with the indictment.

Another way to be indicted of a crime is by way of the federal grand jury. Federal grand jury proceedings are secret and the prosecutors will put the evidence that they have in front of them. The federal grand jury will assess and evaluate it and then make a determination as to whether or not you should be indicted based on the federal grand jury information that is provided by the Assistant United States Attorney.

Should I Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney Prior To Being Charged With A Federal Drug Offense?

If you believe that you are under investigation for a federal drug crime or any federal offense, you should immediately get a federal criminal defense attorney and let them know what’s going on. A lot of people just think they can talk their way out of a federal drug crime or any crime and that’s the absolute wrong answer. I can’t tell you how many times where people could actually have a great defense and be very successful in their case but the one piece of information that is killing them and they cannot get around is their own statement to the federal authorities.

An attorney can discuss the case with you under the cloak of attorney-client privilege and then they can best advise you as to how to proceed, who to talk to, what to say. A lot of time what I would do is call the federal prosecutors or the federal agents myself and let them know I represent you. I let them know that you are not going to be making any statements. I also ask them whether you are a target in the case, whether you are a subject, or whether you are a witness. Once we get that information, you and I will discuss it. We will decide what the best course of action is and we will protect your interests.

Will I Have To Testify In Front Of a Grand Jury If I Am The Target Of A Federal Drug Investigation?

Typically, grand juries are held without the defendant being involved. The prosecutors present the evidence they have to the federal grand jury and then the grand jury decides whether or not there is enough evidence to indict the person and charge them with a federal crime. If someone were to be summoned in front of a grand jury, they would obviously want to make sure that they have their own criminal defense attorney available to advise them. A lot of times you don’t want to make any statements at a grand jury and your attorney is going to advise you to assert your rights to not make any statements, not incriminate yourself and to not say anything that could later be used against you.

What Sets You And Your Firm Apart In Handling Federal Drug Cases?

I’ve been handling federal drug-related offenses for the past 25 years. I’ve been all over the nation handling cases because if it is a federal case, attorneys can go to different states. Depending on the rules of the state, they can associate with other attorneys in the state to assist them or many times you can just handle a case yourself. Having done this for 25 years, having handled many federal drug offenses, dealt with prosecutors and dealt with judges, I have a pretty good feel for how these cases are prosecuted and what the different policies are in the different jurisdictions that handle these federal drug cases. I’ve had a lot of success with clients using all the various tools that are available to a federal criminal defense attorney who knows the jurisdiction, who knows their client’s case and who has the experience in order to successfully defend a federal drug case.

For more information on Post-Conviction Options In A Federal Drug Case, an initial consultation is your best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 374-3952 today.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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