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The low burden of proof for federal drug conspiracy charges

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2024 | Drug Charges |

People who have been accused of drug-related offenses often expect lenient treatment. Most people know that possession of a drug is a crime, but they expect minimal consequences should they get caught. Those who believe they might face state-level possession charges sometimes receive a nasty shock when they get arrested.

Instead of basic charges brought by state prosecutors, they end up facing federal drug conspiracy charges. Someone who has never made money off of the drug trade and who doesn’t have any prior criminal record may feel shocked and overwhelmed about the possibility of a federal drug conspiracy charge. They might also assume that the charges are a mistake or that they can easily prevail in court. Ultimately, many people fail to understand that there is a surprisingly low standard prosecutors have to meet to justify federal drug conspiracy charges.

What does a conspiracy involve?

There are multiple elements to a drug conspiracy, the prosecutors only need to establish a few basic facts. One is that two or more people made plans about breaking the law together. Another is that the case justifies federal prosecution. People living in different states or traveling across state lines can be enough to warrant federal drug charges. The use of federal systems, ranging from banking institutions to the United States Postal Service, could also warrant federal charges.

Under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the government can charge everyone involved in a federal criminal conspiracy with the most serious charges that they could bring against any one participant in the conspiracy. Instead of bringing charges against each person individually, federal prosecutors can charge everyone involved in organized criminal activity as a group. One trial is all that is needed to convict multiple people.

Those embroiled in a conspiracy case may be legally accountable for the actions of others. Evidence as simple as a few text messages talking about bringing prescription medication from another state could be enough to establish that there was a conspiracy that violated federal drug laws.

Conspiracy charges require a measured response

There are many options available to those facing drug conspiracy charges at the federal level. The specific charges, the evidence the state has and even the criminal record of the defendant can influence the best way to respond to pending criminal allegations.

The current rules for drug conspiracy cases put a significant burden on defendants facing federal charges in conspiracy cases. Responding assertively and as early as possible to pending drug charges may give people the best chance of exonerating themselves.