Since the “War on Drugs” began back in the 1970s in the United States the penalties relating to offenses involving controlled substances have increased in severity, both at the state and the federal level. While crimes involving mere possession of a controlled substance are typically not pursued or prosecuted at the federal level, crimes involving the manufacture, distribution, or sale of a controlled substance may fall under the purview of federal law enforcement agencies, and subsequently the federal court system. If you were caught smuggling drugs, therefore, you may legitimately be concerned that you will end up in federal prison. Only an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney can evaluate the specific facts and circumstances of your case and provide you with individualized advice and guidance; however, a basic understanding of how drug related offenses are handled in the state and federal criminal justice systems may also be helpful.
In the United States we operate under a federalist form of government, which means we have a strong centralized government (the federal government) along with numerous smaller governments (state governments). Both the federal government and each individual state government has a criminal justice system as well as various law enforcement agencies that investigate criminal activity, such as crimes relating to controlled substances.
At the federal level, the Controlled Substances Act, or CSA, regulates the possession, manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of substances covered under the Act. Although we commonly use the terms “smuggling” and/or “trafficking” when referring to the transportation and/or distribution of drugs, the CSA uses the terms “importation” and “distribution.” The State of Nebraska also has laws that make it illegal to “manufacture, distribute, deliver, dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, deliver, or dispense a controlled substance.”
Though federal law enforcement agencies often have the right to investigate and charge crimes involving smaller amounts of drugs, they typically only become interested when a large quantity of a controlled substance is allegedly being imported, distributed, sold, or manufactured. Consequently, if you were arrested by federal law enforcement officers, and are now facing federal charges, there is a good chance that the amount of drugs involved was significant. This matters because the penalties you face will depend, to a large extent, on the amount of drugs involved. If you are convicted of “smuggling” drug in federal court there is a good chance you will be sentenced to serve a period of incarceration in federal prison.
Always keep in mind, however, that being accused of any criminal offense is not the same as being convicted. If you have recently been arrested by federal law enforcement officers for a drug related offense, or you have reason to believe you are being investigated for one, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney right away to determine what legal defenses may apply in your case. Contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
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