What Are Some Of The Most Common Types Of Federal Drug Cases That Your Firm Typically Handles?
Distribution or possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and meth are most commonly seen in federal court. Typically, for a drug case to get to federal court, the amount possessed must be significant (usually over a kilogram).
Opioid cases are becoming increasingly common, whether they involve heroin, oxycodone, or any other type of opioid that people can get their hands on. The opioid crisis in this country is exploding, which has been well-publicized. The demand for opioids on the streets is so strong that vast conspiracies are created – medical doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists set up elaborate organizations where patients are recruited, and their Medicare and Medicaid numbers used to charge Medicaid and Medicare for opioids. The medical professionals are supported by a network that includes patient recruiters, coordinators, drivers or runners to transport the patients, and the patients themselves who are needed to go in and fill the prescriptions. In these schemes, the “patients” are paid a small amount of money to let the organization get their hands on the opioid so that it can be given to people who sell it on the streets.
The organization includes patient recruiters (i.e., people out on the streets recruiting patients to come to the doctor’s office or clinic), runners (i.e., people whose job it is to pick up the people and drive them to the doctor’s office or clinic), billers (i.e., those who bill Medicare and Medicaid for the opioids), doctors who prescribe fraudulent opioid prescriptions, people who take those prescriptions to a pharmacy to get them filled, and sellers (i.e., the people who sell the opioids on the streets).
There has been an explosion of this type of opioid-related fraud, including Medicare and other healthcare fraud cases in federal court. I tend to have two or three of these cases at any one time. Each opioid-type case is complex and intertwined. Opioid cases can take years to go through the courts. Federal prosecutors are taking an aggressive stance going after the various members of these conspiracies. Opioid-related cases are becoming common in federal court, especially when it comes to federal court cases involving drugs.
What Is The Difference Between A Federal And State Drug Charge?
The main difference between a federal and a state drug charge has to do with the quantity of the drug and the seriousness of the charge. Federal cases typically involve larger amounts of drugs (i.e., over one kilogram). Federal charges also carry significantly higher guideline ranges than their state-court counterparts, and frequently include mandatory minimum sentences depending on the quantity of the drug. If there is a five-year or 10-year mandatory minimum, the judge is required to issue the 5 (or 10) year mandatory minimum sentence, even if they would prefer to cut the defendant a break.
The most common charge in federal court for every crime, but certainly for drug offenses, is conspiracy. While it is illegal to possess a kilogram of cocaine, possess with the intent to distribute a kilogram of cocaine, or distribute a kilogram of cocaine, it is far more common to see federal prosecutors charge conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to possess cocaine, or even conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
The conspiracy laws in federal court are very pro-prosecutor and anti-defendant. For starters, Federal prosecutors do not have to prove many of the elements that they would have to prove in a straight possession with intent to distribute or distribution case. The elements of a conspiracy charge are very simple: the agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime. In addition, conspiracy law authorizes U.S. Attorneys to admit into evidence several forms of hearsay statements made in furtherance of the conspiracy. For this reason, conspiracy drug charges are easier to prove, which makes them the most commonly Indicted federal drug crime.
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