Within the American justice system, there are a number of different types of legislation that relate to drug related crimes. In most circumstances, drug conspiracy laws are addressed at a federal level, which means they are not only broad reaching, and therefore cover a number of activities involved with drug conspiracy but they also carry a series of very significant penalties.
Interestingly, the area of law that addresses drug conspiracy dates back to the war between states, when Congress took steps to protect the country from harm by carefully enacting laws regarding conspiracy that remain largely the same to this day. The basic idea behind regulations on drug conspiracy is that a group of people planning to purchase, make, or distribute drugs probably represents a far greater threat to the United States than simply a single person. Many cases that could be prosecuted at a state level are therefore upgraded to federal crimes when possible, because these laws are far more inclusive.
Usually, when cases of drug conspiracy are under consideration, the drugs in question are those that are deemed illegal narcotic substances, in other words, not the pills you might get through a prescription, although the decision to pedal prescription drugs in a large-scale organization may also lead to a conviction of drug conspiracy.
In Massachusetts, drug conspiracy is covered by Section 40 of Chapter 94C of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Examples of Drug Conspiracy
Unfortunately, at this time, crimes that involve an act of drug-based conspiracy reflect one of the most ambiguous offenses within the criminal system. In other words, it is possible to be charged with drug conspiracy without ever having actually purchased, possessed, made, or sold any type of narcotic at an illegal level. In fact, the concept of drug conspiracy itself means that if you had a conversation with another person about the idea of selling drugs, when that person is under investigation for drug based charges, you could be considered as working in a "conspiracy". Many other situations can also lead to conspiracy charges, such as choosing to let someone borrow equipment or property that is then used to commit a drug related crime.
Obviously, the idea of drug conspiracy in relation to the law is a complicated one, but there is a general idea of what is a conspiracy. Officially, a conspiracy takes place when an agreement is made between two or more parties with the intent to commit a crime. To prosecutors and police, it often doesn't make much difference whether or not the accused in question had any true intention to commit a crime so long as the indication is there. Although there are some actions that must be taken in order for illegal narcotics to be possessed, almost anyone can face criminal charges associated with drug conspiracy.
In most states, being charged with drug conspiracy is perhaps the most common way in which alleged drug offenders might be charged with a federal crime regarding the possession or trafficking of drugs. The government, however, has a responsibility to prove certain factors before a case can be prosecuted successfully. Not only must there be a proven agreement in place to violate a law regarding drugs, but it must be proven that each conspirator was aware of that agreement, and there must have been at least one act taken in an attempt to further the conspiracy as a whole.
Drug Conspiracy Punishment
Usually, the penalties for the crime of drug conspiracy are quite severe because the crime is considered at a federal level. Usually, these federal penalties are relatively stiff, but they are also often quite similar to the penalties that are given for other white collar crimes in most states. Under Section 371 of penal law, the felony conspiracy involved in drug-related crimes can lead to fines being issued to those successfully convicted of up to $250,000. However, this number can be increased to $500,000 for groups and organizations. Additionally, it is possible to receive a sentence of up to five years in prison. Punishments and additional penalties can also be levied when further crimes are committed in conjunction with drug based offenses.
As with many federal crimes, it's worth noting that penalties may sometimes be affected by the consideration of further additional factors, such as background, age, prior criminal history, and the drug in question. Some people who are successfully convicted and charged with drug conspiracy may also be required to make restitution and be subject to forfeiture of anything that they earned as a result of the criminal activity. What's more, if someone was harmed during the commission of the crime in question, this can impact the severity of the penalty.
In Massachusetts, the punishment for conspiracy is based on the punishment for the offense that was conspired.
Drug Conspiracy Defenses
Those who are convicted of drug conspiracy should seek help as quickly as possible from a defense attorney with experience dealing with matters of drugs and narcotics. The scope that is used to issue drug conspiracy charges is quite broad, and many elements need to be proven with absolute certainty for a prosecution to be successful. In other words, if it cannot be proven that you participated in the act of conspiracy voluntarily, then you will not be convicted.
There are a number of different ways in which a person might be able to defend against charges of drug conspiracy, and your attorney should be able to investigate the details of your case as thoroughly as possible to uncover possible evidence that may be used in your defense, or simply to reduce the charges.
- Many people find themselves being dragged into cases involving drug conspiracy simply because they have engaged in passing contact with other people who have an agreement in place about the conduction of a drug related offense. Some people accused of conspiracy may not even know the other people in that group, and the element of knowledge or agreement can be an area where your criminal lawyer might be able to get the charges dropped.
- A frequent line of defense that is used for cases of drug conspiracy focuses on how the crime was discovered. For instance, the defendant might question whether the search and seizure conducted by the police was done legally, and whether the defendant was searched with the presence of a warrant.
- A further common area of defense lies in the concept of witness testimony and how the government chose to obtain that testimony. Some informants with criminal records may not be completely trustworthy, whereas other informants may choose to lie in an effort to reduce their own punishment and penalties.
What to Do If You Have Been Charged
As with any crime, if you are facing charges of drug conspiracy at a federal level, it is crucial to seek the advice and guidance of an attorney who has enough experience within the world of federal law. Procedural rules and evidence at a federal level can have a great degree of difference to the information used in state courts, so a regular criminal lawyer might always be the best option in mounting a criminal defense on your behalf. Be aware that most drug cases involving conspiracy will also include a long period of investigation, so the conviction rate is generally very high as the law enforcement officers generally manage to gather a great deal of evidence.