Narcotics or drug trafficking laws prohibit the import, export, or transportation of a controlled substance. The term drug trafficking is also used more broadly to refer to the manufacture, distribution, and sale of drugs that involve large quantities of controlled substances. Depending on the circumstances of the case, charges may be filed in federal or state court, or both. Often, criminal charges involving money laundering are included.
Drug trafficking offenses are extremely serious. The New York/New Jersey region is designated by the federal government as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). In HIDTAs like New York, the elimination of drug trafficking has become a top priority for law enforcement and suspects are pursued particularly aggressively. In these locations, the federal government provides law enforcement agencies with superior technology and equipment, as well as supplemental funding. These additional resources mean that drug trafficking investigations are sophisticated and thorough — in other words, these cases are very difficult to fight.
While narcotics prosecutions can involve controlled substances such as cocaine, crack, marajuana, methamphetimine, and heroin, law enforcement agencies also target such substances as steroids, human growth hormone, and grey market pharmaceuticals for investigation and prosecution. Prosecutors frequently include conspiracy charges in drug trafficking cases, which makes the cases even more challenging. This practice allows prosecutors to widen an investigation, to allow evidence from shady or questionable sources, and to cut deals with other suspects who would gladly shift blame onto someone else.
The experienced attorneys at our New York criminal defense law firm understand how these cases are investigated and prosecuted. We closely examine the evidence to locate the weak points in the prosecution’s case and often take a pro-active approach to try to get a case dismissed or charges reduced. Our lawyers have a proven track record of convincing prosecutors that our client should not be indicted at all or that a client should be allowed to plead to a greatly reduced charge.
If we determine that trial is the best approach, our attorneys have the experience, knowledge, and fortitude necessary to mount a strong defense in these difficult cases.
Federal sentencing is an extremely complex process and one of the most critical phases in federal drug charges cases. Because the severity of a sentence depends on how the judge resolves numerous legal issues, a defendant can benefit tremendously from the skill and expertise of an experienced attorney. A talented attorney can successfully dispute factors that can increase a sentence, for example the quantity of money or drugs involved, whether the defendant played a managerial role, or whether the defendant abused a position of trust. A skilled attorney can also raise mitigating factors to reduce a sentence. Some examples of these factors are the defendant’s low risk of recidivism, extraordinary family circumstances, post-offense rehabilitation, and attempted cooperation with authorities.
The lawyers at Charles A. Ross & Associates are highly skilled at navigating the complex sentencing process in federal criminal cases and we consistently persuade courts to impose significantly reduced sentences.
Criminal and Civil Forfeiture
When a person has been arrested for drug trafficking, the government may initiate a forfeiture action against the person or property. Criminal forfeiture is a punitive measure taken against a defendant after a conviction, where, as a part of the sentence, the government seizes property that more likely than not was obtained as a result of the crime. By contrast, civil forfeiture actions allow property to be seized even without a criminal conviction if the government proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was obtained from unlawful activity. Not surprisingly, the majority of forfeitures pursued by the government are civil.
A civil forfeiture action can make it difficult for a defendant to mount a defense. Bank accounts may be frozen and property and other assets seized. Forfeiture actions can also cause tremendous problems for the defendant’s family members. When a forfeiture action is initiated against our client, the attorneys at Charles A. Ross & Associates immediately challenge the action. Where appropriate, we consult accountants and investigators to help us dispute the government’s claims. In many cases, we have been able to persuade the court that the government has not presented sufficient proof or that the action constitutes harassment of our client.