Olsinski Law Firm team

Federal Drug Conspiracy

Experienced Charlotte Criminal Defense Law Firm Representing Clients Throughout North Carolina District Courts

Facing any criminal charge can be overwhelming. Knowing that your freedom is on the line can be a lot to handle. And when the federal government claims you engaged in a drug conspiracy, the situation is especially serious. Under federal drug conspiracy laws, prosecutors can charge you with a felony narcotics offense even if you were not the one who made the transaction. This is because the broadly phrased conspiracy law allows the government to prosecute anyone who planned to commit a federal drug crime and took some action towards committing the offense.

At the Law Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our Charlotte federal criminal defense attorneys have decades of combined experience aggressively defending clients facing drug charges in federal court. We understand what the government needs to prove to establish a conspiracy and how to make their job as difficult as possible.

What Is a Federal Drug Conspiracy?

A federal drug conspiracy is a criminal charge based on allegations that two or more people agreed to commit a drug-related crime. This charge is based on the Federal Drug Conspiracy Statute, 21 U.S.C. § 846, which makes it a federal offense for anyone to conspire to manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.

There are three elements to a conspiracy charge:

  • An Agreement

    There must be an agreement between two or more people to violate federal drug laws. The agreement does not have to be formal or in writing. In fact, prosecutors often rely on circumstantial evidence to establish an agreement.

  • Knowledge and Intent:

    Participants must knowingly and intentionally enter into the conspiracy. They must be aware of the conspiracy’s purpose and voluntarily join it. In other words, you can’t be tricked into joining the conspiracy.

  • An Overt Act:

    In most cases, the prosecution must establish that the defendant charged with made an overt act to advance the conspiracy. For example, exchanging drugs for money, arranging a meet-up between other co-conspirators, dropping off money or drugs, or laundering money you knew came from a drug transaction can all be considered overt acts.

Does a Crime Need to Be Committed to Be Charged with a Federal Drug Conspiracy?

No. Section 846 makes it clear that the crime is committed once someone engages in the conspiracy, regardless of whether the crime is completed. In fact, in many conspiracy cases, it ends up that one or more of the other parties involved is working with the government, meaning it was factually impossible for the crime to have ever been completed.

What Is the Punishment for a Federal Drug Conspiracy?

Drug conspiracies in the federal system are punished identically to the underlying narcotics offense. Thus, in most cases, the seriousness of a federal drug conspiracy charge depends on the weight or amount of drugs. In this way, all conspirators are in the same position. However, the federal sentencing guidelines can very well result in co-conspirators receiving different sentences based on their individual aggravating and mitigating factors, as well as their prior record.

The Defense of Renunciation

There are many defenses to conspiracy charges, most of which are identical to those in any other drug case. However, the defense of renunciation is unique to conspiracy cases. Renunciation, which is also referred to as withdrawal, is the term used to describe a situation where a conspirator backs out of the conspiracy. However, once an overt act is taken, backing out isn’t enough. To effectively run a renunciation defense, the defendant must also make their intentions known to all other conspirators and do so before the crime was committed.

Are You Facing Federal Drug Conspiracy Charges?

If you were recently arrested and charged with federal drug crimes, it is essential that you get started on your defense as soon as possible. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we’ve successfully defended countless clients charged with drug conspiracy charges and know what it takes to reach the best possible result in your case. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our Charlotte federal criminal defense lawyers, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach our Cabarrus County defense attorneys at 704-918-4747. We represent clients in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western District of North Carolina and Middle District of North Carolina.

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