Many crimes may be pursued by one individual and one individual alone. For example, most white-collar crimes, crimes involving theft, and property crimes can be carried out by a single person. However, each broad category of crimes also tends to feature the possibility of charges that relate specifically to the interactions between like-minded individuals who work together to pursue a specific unlawful aim.
The word “conspiracy” tends to pop up a great deal when anyone researches the nature of such offenses. Broadly defined – within the context of criminal law – conspiracy involves two or more parties agreeing to pursue criminal aims immediately or at some future point in time. With that said, not all conspiracy-based crimes feature the same elements, nor do such charges hinge on the same kinds of circumstances. For example, prosecutors who are seeking a guilty verdict in white-collar conspiracy cases must generally prove the following four legal elements:
- An agreement was made between two or more parties
- The agreement’s aim involved an unlawful purpose
- A specific defendant who was party to the agreement had both knowledge of the unlawful plan and intent to carry it out
- A substantial step or overt action must have been taken in furtherance of the unlawful aim
Yet, even though the above example illustrates a criminal conspiracy, these are not necessarily the elements that must be proven in all criminal conspiracy cases. Drug conspiracy cases, for example, are prosecuted according to their own nuanced legal standards. As a result, it is important to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately about the unique ins and outs of your case if you have been charged with conspiracy of any kind, including high-stakes drug conspiracy charges.
What Is Drug Conspiracy?
Unlike white-collar criminal conspiracy charges, drug conspiracy charges don’t generally require that alleged offenders take a step in furtherance of the conspiracy before they can be found guilty of this offense. This omission from the general legal elements that apply to conspiracy offenses more broadly is significant for one simple reason: It makes it far easier for a prosecutor to secure a guilty verdict than it is for the same prosecutor to secure a guilty verdict against an alleged white-collar offender.
Depending on the nature of your situation, you can be charged with federal drug conspiracy, state drug conspiracy, or both kinds of offenses.
If you are charged with a federal drug conspiracy crime, you will be tried in federal court, risk penalties per the terms of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act and – if you are convicted and sentenced to a term of incarceration – serve your sentence in a federal prison. On the other hand, if you are being charged with a state drug conspiracy crime, you will be tried in state court, risk penalties per the terms of the Texas Controlled Substances Act and – if you are convicted and sentenced to a term of incarceration – serve time in a county jail, state jail, or state prison.
Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, you may even be charged with both federal and state wrongdoing. In this scenario, you could be tried separately or simultaneously. If you are convicted in both forums, you will face penalties unique to each forum’s sentencing guidelines.
Consequences Of A Drug Conspiracy Conviction
The consequences that a defendant will face in the event that they are convicted of drug conspiracy will be dependent upon the nature of the defense, the kind of unlawful controlled substance in question, the amount of unlawful controlled substance in question, and whether the defendant is being prosecuted at the federal level or the state level.
In the case of federal drug conspiracy, a convicted defendant will face the same punishments that they would face had the conspiracy been carried out successfully and the crime was completed. For example, if you have been charged with conspiracy to traffic 97 grams of a Fentanyl analogue – and you have not been previously convicted of a trafficking offense – and you’re charged under federal law, you will face no fewer than five years in prison and may be sentenced to as many as 40 years. But if you have been charged with conspiracy to traffic an additional 3 grams for a total of 100 grams of a Fentanyl analogue – even though it is your first offense – you will face a term of incarceration in a federal prison for no fewer than 10 years. If your offense leads to the death or serious injury of another person, you’ll also face up to millions of dollars in fines under either scenario. These are the same penalties you’d face if your conspiracy to traffic this drug had been successful and you had been charged with a trafficking offense instead.
By contrast, in the case of state drug conspiracy charges, a defendant will be sentenced according to the broader Texas classification of crimes, depending on a host of different factors that can potentially influence their case. The breakdown of base penalties for various drug conspiracy crimes in Texas is as follows:
- Class A misdemeanor: A fine of no more than $4,000 and/or up to one year in jail
- State jail felony: A fine of no more than $10,000 and/or up to two years in county jail
- Third-degree felony: A fine of no more than $10,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison
- Second-degree felony: A fine of no more than $10,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison
- First-degree felony: A fine of no more than $10,000 and/or up to 99 years or life in prison
The classification of a particular drug conspiracy crime per Texas law will differ depending on whether an offender has a history of related convictions, the kind of unlawful controlled substance in question, the amount of unlawful controlled substance in question, etc. The variability of the charges that someone may face for drug-related conspiracy crimes under state law is quite extraordinary. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for alleged offenders to seek legal guidance from a drug conspiracy lawyer as soon as they possibly can. It may be difficult to even assess the severity of one’s situation until a criminal defense lawyer has explained the ins and outs of it.
The other primary reason to connect with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you possibly can after being arrested is that the stakes of your situation are unquestionably high. Whether you’re facing state and/or federal prosecution, chances are that you’re risking years of incarceration and steep fines in the event of a conviction.
Also, most drug conspiracy matters are felonies, which means that a conviction will result in a criminal record. This record would make it much more difficult to get a job, buy or rent lodging, secure financing, and even to volunteer. The intentional nature of this crime could even be held against you during child custody proceedings if your child’s other parent argues that you cannot be trusted to take proper care of your child.
The sentencing terms associated with drug conspiracy crimes are often unreasonably high. Yet, many convicted felons will admit that the collateral consequences of a felonious conviction are even tougher to shoulder because those consequences persist for the rest of one’s life. Working with a savvy attorney can help you to minimize the likelihood of a conviction and mitigate the risk of facing the full force of potential consequences.
Seek Personalized Assistance From A Trusted Texas Federal Drug Conspiracy Lawyer Today
If you have been accused of conspiring to commit a federal drug offense, seek legal guidance immediately. Due to the complexities of the federal prosecution process, there is virtually no way to escape – or even mitigate – the potential consequences you’re facing if you don’t have experienced legal counsel aggressively advocating on behalf of your rights and interests. As the U.S. Supreme Court observed in the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright, “lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries.”
The skilled attorneys at The Cofer Luster Law Firm have a reputation that speaks for itself. Our team’s decades of combined experience, dedication to our clients, and focused approach to criminal defense representation led to our team being named as some of the top attorneys in Fort Worth, Texas, by Fort Worth Magazine. Although we cannot guarantee the outcome of your – or any – criminal law case, we commit to doing our utmost to secure you the most favorable outcome possible under the circumstances. Reach out to our drug conspiracy lawyers today for assistance by calling (682) 777-3336 or by contacting us online.