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Houston Lawyer: Charged with a Methamphetamine Offense?

Whether you are currently under investigation for a drug crime involving Methamphetamine or have already been arrested, it’s important to retain criminal defense representation from a skilled Houston Lawyer. Texas has some of the most stringent illegal drug laws in the country, and the police and prosecutors involved with your criminal case aren’t going to let you off easy. By working with an attorney who has considerable knowledge, expertise, and practice of this type of criminal law, your odds of resolving your case effectively increase greatly. Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson will be by your side during this difficult time in your life.

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Methamphetamine is the illegal drug with the fastest growing rate of abuse in the United States. More U.S. counties (48%) report that meth may be the principal drug problem in the country – more than cocaine (22%), marijuana (22%) and heroin (3%) put together. Meth laboratory seizures have increased 577 percent nationwide since 1995. Methamphetamine, also known as “speed,” “crank,” “chalk,” or “ice” among many others, has been hooking people for years. But illegal production and use of the hugely addictive stimulant have exploded in the last few years, spawning what some authorities call America’s first rural drug epidemic. Methamphetamine is a strong stimulant that can cause a high that lasts from six to Twenty four hours. Once favored mainly by West Coast bike gangs, methamphetamine is now spreading across the nation. As outlined by US government surveys, treatment for meth addiction has more than quadrupled since 1993. Greater than 12 million men and women above the age of 12 have experimented with methamphetamine, including one out of 10 adolescents (according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

What exactly is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant that directly has an effect on the pleasure centers within the brain. With repeated use of meth, it turns off the brain’s capacity to produce dopamine which simply leaves the users of methamphetamine incapable of enjoying anything but more methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is usually smoked, injected intravenously, snorted, or perhaps ingested orally. The drug alters mood in different ways, dependent on how it is utilized.

Meth is known to raise the user’s heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and respiratory rate, a reduction in appetite, sleep, reaction time, and lung function. Extended use of meth can result in a number of conditions for example “meth mouth”, depression, amphetamine psychosis, obsessive scratching, anorexia, unfavorable social behavior, every type of child neglect, neglect of hygiene and property, prenatal exposure, dangerous sexual tendencies associated with the spread of HIV and also STD’s, aggressive behavior, criminal actions, and death from the collapse of the cardiovascular system and/or bleeding in the brain, cardiac arrest or hypothermia. Moreover, there are many side affects related to overdose which include death, brain damage, feelings of flesh crawling bugs connected with compulsive picking and infecting lesions, muscle breakdown producing kidney failure, hallucinations, delusions, along with paranoia. These terrible conditions linked to meth don’t even include the many accidents and deaths that could occur during the cooking process due to fires, explosions, and getting into contact with extremely dangerous chemical substances typically while the user is under the influence.

Forms of Methamphetamine

Meth is known as a central nervous system stimulant with a significant potential for abuse and dependency. A synthetic illegal drug, Methamphetamine is closely related chemically to amphetamine, yet creates increased effects on the central nervous system. The drug’s euphoric effects are comparable to, but longer lasting than those from cocaine. It typically comes in three forms:

Powder: a white, odorless, and bitter-tasting crystalline powder, readily soluble in water or alcohol.

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Crystal: Users will smoke chunks of a very pure form of crystalline Methamphetamine called “Ice”.

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Rock: Big chunks of the drug, typically found in yellow, are usually ingested orally.

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Signs and symptoms of Methamphetamine Addiction

Users can become hooked the first time they take meth, and the addiction is probably the most challenging to treat. People who take methamphetamine may become aggressive and paranoid, and the drug may cause heart attacks and death.

Addicts are typically chronic methamphetamine abusers completely preoccupied with avoiding the “crash”, a period of low energy and deep depression occurring after the individual stops using the drug. Throughout the crash, an individual often sleeps, even up to several days at a time, leaving kids unsupervised.

Methamphetamine dependency is quick, and so is the deterioration within the individual’s family and way of life. Drug tolerance to methamphetamine builds up quickly, and the user typically continues his impairment from abusing other drugs or alcohol, an activity referred to as “tweaking”, to ease the extremely unpleasant feeling after a binge. The tweaker is frequently paranoid and experiences a period of delusions and hallucinations during which violent reactions to otherwise harmless stimuli are routine. Frequently, it is children that happen to be in the way.

The horror of meth abuse just cannot be overstated.

Methamphetamine abuse consumes the quality of life and destroys individuals. In the series of photographs below, the female depicted was 38 years of age when she died. Incredibly, she is actually still living in the last photograph. Each photograph represents about Eleven months.

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History of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine was first produced in Germany in 1887, but not for the recreational use that we find nowadays. It was produced to deal with various types of depression, weight control (obesity), narcolepsy, and alcoholism. In the Second World War, Methamphetamine was widely used by Nazi soldiers. Hitler’s troops, aviators, and tank crews received chocolate laced with Meth frequently. Following the war, through the 1970′s, the drug was commonly used primarily for medicinal reasons and one could acquire a legal prescription of Methamphetamine. It was not until the 1980′s that we started to see Meth being produced for recreational uses. By the mid- 1980′s we started to notice meth being manufactured illicitly in Texas, and since then, the illicit manufacturing of meth has spread like wildfire.

Challenges for Law Enforcement

The addictive character of meth generates numerous difficulties for law enforcement. People commonly become addicted from a single use of the drug and discover it almost impossible to later cease using meth. Users, dealers and traffickers often target adolescents to start using meth. The DEA has found evidence of this from the increase in availability of flavored methamphetamine. Flavors including strawberry or “strawberry quick,” cola, and chocolate flavored meth have been found by bodies in California, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, and Minnesota.

Safety factors are also a huge obstacle for law enforcement if they happen to find a covert methamphetamine lab. It is a common practice for small meth lab operators to encircle their laboratories with booby traps, meant to seriously harm trespassers. Many of these booby traps include rigged shot firearms behind doors and refrigerators, traps that release harmful fumes, and even poisonous snakes.

Individuals who violate the law by manufacturing, possessing, or distributing methamphetamine frequently break the law in other ways also – because of or in support of their meth addiction. Many law enforcement agencies will point to the connection between meth manufacturers and meth addicts and criminal acts including: homicide, domestic assault, illegal possession of weapons, theft and identity fraud.

Methamphetamine Defense: Hire the Top Houston Lawyer

Whatever illegal drug charges you are defending, it’s of the utmost necessity that you retain the services of The Top Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer who will battle to avoid the severe penalties that are the consequence of drug-related conviction. Even if it’s your initial criminal offense, you could have to deal with a mandatory jail sentence, as well as considerable fines and a felony on your record.

The attorney you hire to defend you can easily make a big difference in whether you win your court case and steer clear of a life-altering conviction. Nonetheless, in a city like Houston, TX, finding the right Houston Lawyer can be challenging. When looking for a Houston drug defense lawyer to handle your court case, you ought to locate a lawyer who’s experienced, but who can also come up with innovative defense tactics for battling your criminal charges. Ultimately, many lawyers are familiar with what the law states, but Lawyer Johnson is skilled at utilizing his understanding of the law to come up with unquestionably inventive and effective ways to defend his clients against their criminal charges.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for an offense associated with Methamphetamine possession, manufacturing or distribution in Houston, obtain the support of Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson as soon as possible.


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Related News Stories – Methamphetamine Arrests in Houston, Texas

Arrested for Federal Drug Charges? Get Expert Counsel From Federal Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson

Best Federal Drug Defense AttorneyFederal Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson represents clients who have been charged or are about to be charged with drug charges in Federal Court. The Charles Johnson Law Firm has earned an international reputation as one of the top Federal Drug Law Firms.

Regardless of the federal or international drug charge, Federal Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson has the drug defense experience to handle your case. He has successfully handled sophisticated drug defense cases that included Trafficking, Importation, Distribution and many others. When faced with a federal drug crime there is absolutely no substitute for experience. If you have been charged with drug crime and need a Federal Drug Defense Attorney, contact Attorney Johnson directly anytime night or day at (713) 222-7577. In Federal and International Drug Defense, experience makes the difference.

Federal Drug Crimes Overview

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, also known as the Controlled Substances Act, classifies narcotics, marijuana and other drugs into five categories, or Schedules. Besides establishing requirements relating to manufacture and distribution of drugs, the law also defines penalties for violations of the Act. Depending on the nature and quantity of the substance involved, as well as the presence of sentence-enhancing factors, the criminal penalties can be severe. If you are facing federal drug charges, call Houston Federal Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson for advice on the law, your rights and how to proceed. He is available around the clock to take your call.

Offenses at the Federal Level

Federal drug offenses differ from those at the state level, even though the conduct in question might be the same. In defining crimes, Congress’ authority comes from its Constitutionally-granted powers over the areas of commerce, taxation and the postal service.

Some of the drug crimes under the Controlled Substances Act include:

  • Drug trafficking: manufacturing, distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute illicit drugs
  • Manufacturing: operating places for the purposes of manufacturing, distributing or using illicit drugs, or endangering human life while so doing
  • Continuing criminal enterprise crimes: trafficking in illicit drugs by a person in concert with five or more other persons
  • Conspiracy: involves attempts and the promoting and facilitating of manufacture, distribution or importation of illicit drugs
  • Protected location offenses: distributing illicit drugs to persons under age 21 or within a school or playground zone; employing persons under age 18 in drug operations
  • Simple possession: possessing controlled substances without a valid prescription from a licensed medical practitioner (unlike trafficking, simple possession does not involve intent to distribute the drugs)

Other drug offenses under the Act include investing illicit drug profits in businesses affecting interstate commerce and unauthorized importation of controlled substances. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces the federal controlled substances laws and regulations.

In addition, drug crimes at the federal level may include violations of tax law, such as tax evasion, or engaging in activities prohibited by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Federal drug laws specify minimum and maximum terms of imprisonment, based on the type and quantity of drug involved. Likewise, under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, these factors are taken into account, along with:

  • Whether the offense involved injury to another person
  • Whether a weapon was possessed or used
  • The defendant’s criminal history

While judges have discretion to depart from sentencing guidelines, they must still stay within the mandatory minimum and maximum terms specified by statute. Where the offense occurs in a school or other protected zone, penalties may be enhanced.

Hire the Best Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

Drug crimes can be charged and prosecuted under federal law, state law or both. Because federal drug crimes can carry significantly harsher penalties, it is important to contact a knowledgeable lawyer who is familiar with both federal and state drug laws. If you are facing either federal or state drug charges, call Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson now at (713) 222-7577. He can explain the intricacies of both systems and vigorously represent your interests.

Charged with a Federal Crime? What To Expect

The following is a short summary of what you can expect if charged with a Federal Crime.

SILENCE

By the time you read this material, you or your loved one will have already entered the Federal Criminal Justice System. Whether you are in custody or in the “free world”, one firm rule applies: Do not discuss your case with anyone but your lawyer. Anything you say can and will be used against you. This is true whether you talk to a police officer, a person you just met in a holding cell, or a “friend”.

RELEASE OR DETENTION

The first thing to worry about is whether you are going to be released while waiting for trial. There is no bond set automatically in federal court. Your family cannot simply pay a bondsman to get you out.

Court Appearance: If you were arrested and taken into custody, you will soon appear before a United States Magistrate Judge.  This is not the District Judge that will hear your trial.  This Magistrate Judge will decide if there are any conditions that would allow your release.

Pretrial Report: In order to assist the Magistrate Judge, a Pretrial Services Officer will interview you and give the Magistrate Judge a written report about your background and criminal history. The Officer will not ask you about the facts of your case and you should not volunteer any information. If you lie to the Officer, it will hurt you later on.

Chance for Release: You are most likely to be released if you have little or no criminal history, if you have solid employment and family ties in your community, if you are a United States Citizen, and if you are not charged with a serious drug trafficking offense or crime of violence. Even if you are not a good risk for release, the Magistrate Judge must still hold a hearing and find reasons to keep you in custody. The only time this hearing is unnecessary is when you are being held in custody for other reasons — such as a sentence in another case, a parole warrant, or a probation revocation warrant.

YOUR LAWYER

When you are facing criminal charges, your choice of legal representation is a critical issue. You must ensure that you have legal representation from a proven attorney with a record of successfully defending difficult cases.

In order to protect your rights and to fight a possible Federal drug conviction, it is very important to hire the Best Federal Lawyer you can find. Your future is at stake, and this is not a time to cut corners. A knowledgeable Drug Crime Defense Lawyer will be able to sort out the details of your drug crime charges and diligently work to provide evidence that will benefit you. At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we have been successful at lowering or dismissing charges against our clients and will look to do the same for you. To counteract the aggressive investigation and prosecution from the federal government, you will need an equally aggressive criminal defense attorney. Federal Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson understands federal drug crime cases inside and out and will provide an unmatched dedication, commitment and an aggressive approach when defending your case.

Honesty: Defendants often believe it is better not to tell their lawyers the truth about their case. This is not a good idea. Everything you tell your lawyer is privileged and cannot be told to others. The best defense is one that prepares for all the bad evidence the prosecutor may present against you at your trial. Your lawyer must know all the facts. It is foolish to ignore the dangers and simply hope everything will turn out all right. That is the sure way to be convicted.

Bad Advice: If you are in custody, you will probably get a lot of free advice from other inmates. Unfortunately, much of that advice will be wrong. Many of the other inmates are in state custody and know nothing about federal criminal law. Even the ones facing federal charges may give you bad advice; they may not know any better, or they want to mislead you.

Respect: Treat your lawyer with respect and that respect will be returned to you. Lawyers are human beings who tend to work harder for clients who do not mistreat them.

YOUR RIGHTS

When people talk about “rights” in the federal criminal justice system, they are usually talking about the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution. These rights include freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to remain silent, the right to legal counsel, due process of law, equal protection under the law, protection from double jeopardy, a speedy and public trial, the ability to confront one’s accusers, subpoenas for witnesses, no excessive bail, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

Caselaw: There are many books and thousands of cases that discuss what these rights mean. The law is always changing.  A court opinion written in 1934 by a Montana court of appeals is probably no help in your case. Your case will mostly be affected by recent published opinions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.

Application: Not all of these rights apply in all cases.  If you never made a statement to the police, then it will not matter whether you were told of your right to remain silent. If you consented to a search of your car, then it will not make a difference whether the police had a search warrant.

CUSTODY

There are no benefits to being locked up. Jail has many rules and regulations. Some of those rules are made by the jailers. Some of these rules are made by the United States Marshal.

Clothing: You can get clothing two ways. The way to get underwear, tennis shoes, socks, etc, is to buy them through the jail commissary. Despite what others tell you, your lawyer cannot simply bring you these items. In most instances, trial clothing can be brought to the U.S. Marshal’s office shortly before your court appearance. You will be allowed to change in the holding cell at the federal courthouse.

Other Possessions: Sometimes the jail may allow you to receive magazines by subscription or books mailed from a store. It depends on the jail’s rules. Most other items need to be purchased through the commissary. All jails prohibit your lawyer from bringing you any items, such as cigarettes. You may keep legal documents in your possession.

Visits: Your friends and relatives must follow the jail’s rules when making appointments to visit you. You must put the names of these persons on your visitation list.

ARRAIGNMENT

At some point you will come to court for an arraignment. This is the time when you enter a plea of “Not Guilty”.

Indictment: Before the arraignment, you will have been indicted by a Grand Jury. Neither you, nor your attorney, has a right to be present at the Grand Jury session. A Grand Jury decides if there is enough evidence to have a trial in your case. If there is not, then the case is dismissed. If there is, the Grand Jury issues an Indictment. An Indictment is the document that states what the charges against you are. The Grand Jury sessions are rarely transcribed, so it is usually not possible to receive a transcript of their sessions.

Hearing: The arraignment takesplace before a Magistrate Judge,notthe DistrictJudge who will hear your case. The Magistrate Judge will ask you several questions:

  1. Do you understand what you are charged with?;
  2. Do you understand the potential penalties if you are convicted?; and
  3. How do you plead to the charges?

Since you will have discussed the case with your lawyer by this time, you will be able to answer the first two questions “Yes”. Your answer to the third question is “Not Guilty”. You cannot plead “Guilty” at an arraignment. Pleading “Not Guilty” will never be used against you.

Discovery: Federal law provides only limited access to the government’s evidence against you. Under local rules, you and your attorney are permitted to have copies of only certain types of documents in the government’s file. The rules of discovery must be strictly adhered to, and your attorney will discuss these rules with you more thoroughly as your case progresses.

Motions: Before or after investigating your case, your attorney may feel it appropriate to file a motion(s), which may be heard before or at trial. You should never file your own motions without fully discussing the proper procedures with your attorney. If you have ideas about specific motions that could be filed your case, you should discuss with your attorney whether those particular motions would be appropriate or beneficial to your defense.

SPEEDY TRIAL

Many defendants want a quick trial. This is usually for two reasons. First, defendants who are in custody want to get out of the county jail as soon as possible.  Second, defendants believe that if they are not tried within the Speedy Trial Act’s 70-day time limit, then their cases will be dismissed.

Pretrial Detention: There is no question that conditions in the county jail are not good. However, a defendant is rarely ever helped by going to trial as soon as possible. The prosecutor is prepared to try the case when it is filed. Your lawyer is only then beginning to investigate the case. Your lawyer does not have access to offense reports of the law enforcement officers that have already investigated the case. Also, “aging” a case has other benefits — the case becomes less important over time, witnesses’ memories fade, etc.

Dismissal: There are many exceptions to the Speedy Trial Act. Generally, a prosecutor can get a continuance of the trial whenever requested. The usual reason why a prosecutor requests a continuance is because there are co­defendants who have not been arrested yet.  The speedy trial deadlines do not begin to run until all charged defendants have appeared in court. Also, any time any of the defendants file motions, the time until those motions are decided is not counted toward the speedy trial deadline.

TRIAL

A felony trial in federal court is decided by twelve jurors. The jurors only decide if you are “Guilty” or “Not Guilty” of the charges in the Indictment. Jurors do not decide punishment. The District Judge decides punishment.

Jury Selection: The trial begins with the selection of the jury. A panel of potential jurors is called to court from voter registration lists. The District Judge, the prosecutor, and your lawyer talk to the panel and ask questions. The lawyers are allowed to keep certain members of the panel from sitting on the jury. The first twelve of the remaining panel members become jurors.

Opening Statements: Before the evidence is presented, the lawyers may make opening statements.  Opening statements are when the lawyers tell the jury what they believe the evidence will show.

Order of Proof: The prosecutor presents evidence first.  You are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You do not have to present any evidence or testify. If your lawyer does put on evidence, it will happen after the prosecutor has finished presenting evidence.

Rules: During the trial, the lawyers must follow the rules of evidence and procedure. These rules are complicated. The rules can both help and hurt you. For instance, the rule against hearsay evidence prohibits a prosecutor from calling a witness to testify how he heard about what you did. The same rule will stop your lawyer from introducing an affidavit made by some person who is unwilling to come to court and testify.

Prior Acts: Although you are only on trial for the charges in the Indictment, there are two ways the jury can learn about other accusations against you. First, if you testify then the prosecutor will be able to introduce your prior convictions. Second, the prosecutor can introduce your prior acts –even if they are not convictions — if they are similar to the crime you are charged with (for example, prior drug sales in a drug distribution case).

Final Arguments: After all the evidence has been presented, the lawyers argue the facts to the jury.

Jury Deliberations: Jurors are usually average working people from the community. They are not specially trained in law. They use their common sense when deciding the case. Although the District Judge will instruct them about “the presumption of innocence” and “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”, jurors rely on many things in coming to a decision in a case. Jurors often rely on things such as: the appearance of the defendant, the defendant’s character, and their own biases and prejudices. They cannot be questioned about how they reached their decision.

Verdict: If you are found “Not Guilty”, you will be released. If there is a “Guilty” verdict, then the District Judge will order the Probation Department to prepare a Presentence Investigation Report to assist the District Judge at sentencing. It takes approximately two months between a conviction and sentencing.

Release: If you were previously on pretrial release,the District Judge may continue thatrelease until sentencing, unless you were convicted of a crime of violence or a serious drug trafficking offense.

GUILTY PLEAS

Statistics show that most defendants plead guilty. You make the decision to plead guilty. That decision is never simple. Some possible benefits of a guilty plea are that:

  1. the prosecutor may dismiss some charges;
  2. the prosecutor may not file new charges;
  3. the prosecutor may recommend a favorable sentence;
  4. you may get credit for accepting responsibility, etc.

Plea Agreement: Any promises the prosecutor makes for your guilty plea will be stated in a written plea agreement. That agreement is signed by you, your lawyer, and the prosecutor.

Plea Hearing: You must enter a guilty plea in court before the District Judge. The District Judge must ask you many questions so the record shows you understand what you are doing. During the hearing, the prosecutor will briefly tell the District Judge the facts of the case. You must agree to those facts for the District Judge to accept your guilty plea.

Effect of Plea: Once the District Judge accepts your guilty plea, you are just as guilty as if a jury returned that verdict. Once you are convicted of a felony, you lose certain civil rights, including the right to vote; the right to sit on a jury; and the right to possess firearms.

After Plea: The procedure after a guilty plea is the same as after a conviction at trial. A Presentence Investigation Report will be ordered and you will either be released or detained until sentencing (see “Trial” section).

COOPERATION

Some defendants give prosecutors information against other persons for the possibility of a reduced sentence. There is no guarantee that a defendant will get a lower sentence for “giving people up”. Cooperation usually requires a defendant to testify in court or before a Grand Jury.

OTHER CHARGES

Many times, federal defendants are first arrested by state officers on state charges. Sometimes, even when federal charges are filed, the state charges are not dismissed. It is possible to be convicted of both state and federal charges for the exact same offense. This is not “double jeopardy”. It is also possible to receive “stacked time” (a consecutive sentence), by pleading guilty to an unrelated state or federal case before being convicted in your federal case. Be careful not to do anything about your other cases without telling your attorney. If you are summoned to “jail call”, do not agree to plead guilty to your state charge in exchange for “time served” without telling your lawyer. Despite what the state prosecutor may tell you, this conviction will affect your federal sentence.

SENTENCING

Sentencing takes place approximately three (3) -six (6) months after you have been convicted by a jury or guilty plea. The District Judge decides the sentence. Unlike state court, you cannot simply agree with the prosecutor to serve a particular amount of time or probation.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines: The District Judge decides your sentence based upon a book called the “Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual”. That book works on a point system. You get points for the seriousness of the offense and your role in the offense. Points may be subtracted if you accept responsibility for the offense or if you were only a minor participant. The Manual also considers your criminal history.  Your criminal history is the record of your prior convictions in state and federal courts. A chart at the back of the Manual determines your sentencing guideline range, based upon your criminal history points and the points you received for the offense conduct.

Mandatory Minimum Punishments: Some drug and firearms cases have mandatory minimum punishments. These minimum punishments apply even if the Federal Sentencing Guidelines would otherwise give you a lower sentence. For instance, anyone possessing over 280 grams of crack cocaine after August 3 2010, with the intent to deliver it, must receive at least ten (10) years in prison; even if that person is a first offender.

Departures: If the District Judge sentences you to more or less time than your sentencing guideline range, it is called a “departure”. Departures are unusual. The District Judge must have a good legal reason for a departure. The District Judge cannot depart downward below a mandatory minimum punishment, unless the reason is that you have provided substantial assistance to the government in the prosecution of others or you qualify for the “safety valve” provision as a first offender. Only drug cases qualify for the “safety valve”.

Presentence Investigation Report: Before the sentencing hearing,the District Judge will review a Presentence Investigation Report prepared by a Probation Officer. That report summarizes the offense conduct, your criminal history, and other relevant background information about you. Most importantly, the report calculates a range of punishment for the District Judge to consider in your case. The Probation Officer creates the report based upon information from the prosecutor, independent investigation, and an interview with you in the presence of your lawyer.

Interview: It is important to be honest with the Probation Officer at the presentence interview. If you mislead the officer you may increase your sentence for “obstruction of justice”.  Also, you will not get credit for accepting responsibility unless you talk truthfully about your crime.  Do not talk about any other conduct for which you have not been convicted, unless your lawyer tells you to.

Objections: Before the District Judge gets the Presentence Investigation Report, it will be sent to your lawyer. The probation office will also mail a copy directly to you for your inspection. Review it carefully. If there is anything incorrect about the report, your lawyer can file objections. Some mistakes are more important than others. If the report says your car is red rather than blue, that is probably not important. If the report says you have five (5) prior felonies when you do not, that is important.

Sentencing Hearing: At the sentencing hearing, the District Judge will review your objections to the Presentence Investigation Report and make findings about any facts or legal issues that cannot be agreed upon. Your lawyer will address the legal issues and point out the facts in your favor. District Judges do not want to hear from witnesses who are just there to plead for a reduced sentence. Letters of recommendation and other helpful evidence should be provided to your lawyer well before sentencing so the District Judge can see them before the hearing. Before the District Judge pronounces sentence, you can make a statement.

Concurrent and Consecutive Sentences: No area of law is more confusing to defendants and lawyers than whether multiple sentences (more than one) may be served at the same time (concurrent) or one after another (consecutive).

Present Charges: If your federal Indictment has several related charges, and you are convicted of them, you probably will serve these sentences at the same time. However, it is possible for the District Judge to “stack” unrelated convictions so each must be served before another begins.

Other Charges: Sometimes a defendant is already serving a sentence before being convicted in a federal court. Unless the District Judge specifically orders the new sentence to run at the same time as the previous sentence, they will be stacked and will run consecutively.  You would have to finish your other sentence before the new one begins.  Even if the District Judge runs the new sentence at the same time as your previous sentence, you will not get credit for the time you served prior to sentencing.

VOLUNTARY SURRENDER

If you were on release until sentencing, you may be allowed voluntary surrender. This means about 45 days later you report directly to the federal prison designated for sentence. Otherwise, you would go directly into custody if you received a prison sentence.

APPEAL

An appeal is not a new trial. An appeal is a review of your case by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. You may only appeal after you have been sentenced. A notice of appeal must be filed within 10 days after judgment (your sentencing order) is entered, or you lose that right. Transcripts of all testimony, and all the legal documents in your case, are sent to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals decides whether the District Judge made any mistakes in ruling on the law in your case. If the Court of Appeals decides there were some important mistakes made by the District Judge in your case, the usual remedy is that you will be allowed to have a new trial or a new sentence. That is called a “reversal”. It does not happen often. It is nearly impossible to be released while your appeal is being decided. The decision to appeal should be made only after a careful discussion with your lawyer. The Fifth Circuit is strict about accepting cases that raise legitimate issues. A claim that you received “too much time” will not prevail in the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit will dismiss your appeal if you do not present an issue they consider meritorious. Also, you and your lawyer can be sanctioned (punished) if you present a “frivolous” issue on appeal.

PROBATION

Probation means your term of imprisonment is suspended, you must follow restrictive conditions, and report to a probation officer. Probation is not available for federal drug trafficking crimes. Except for minor fraud cases, most federal defendants do not get probation. “Shock Incarceration” or “Boot Camp” is not probation.  That is a military discipline program followed by time in a halfway house. It is available mostly to young, nonviolent, first-time offenders.

PRISON

Most defendants who are sentenced to prison go directly into custody or continue to remain in custody. Where the sentence will be served depends on several factors.

State Custody: If the reason you first came into custody was a state charge, parole warrant, or probation revocation warrant, then you are in state custody, not federal custody. Neither the United States Marshal, nor the District Judge, has the authority to take you from state custody so that you may begin serving your sentence in a federal institution. This means you will remain in the county jail, or the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, until your State of Texas (or whatever other jurisdiction you owe time) sentence is completely served. Even if you got a federal sentence that is to run at the same time as your previous sentences (see “Sentencing” section), you will do that time in the other jurisdiction’s prison.

Jail Credit: In the federal system, the district judge does not have the authority to award jail credit at your sentencing hearing. See United States v. Wilson , 112 S.Ct. 1351 (1992); 18 U.S.C. §3585(b). Under the statute giving a defendant convicted of federal crime the right to be credited for time spent in official detention before sentence begins, the Attorney General is required to compute credit after the defendant has begun to serve his sentence, rather than the district court at time of sentencing. Statute giving defendant convicted of federal crime right to receive credit for time spent in official detention before sentence begins does not authorize district court to award credit at sentencing.

Federal Custody: You are in federal custody if you  were brought in on a federal warrant. It does not matter that you are being held in the county jail or that state charges or revocations are later filed. It is always better to be in federal custody, because the State of Texas will give you credit for serving your state sentences no matter who has custody of you.

Designation: If you are in federal custody, then a federal institution must be designated for your sentence. This designation takes about one (1) month and is made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. During that month, you will probably remain in a county jail. The decision about where you will go depends upon the seriousness of the crime, your criminal history, the location of your family, among other things.  A recommendation by the District Judge to send you to a particular place is not binding on the Bureau of Prisons.

Good Time Credit: The Bureau of Prisons can give you up to 54 days a year of “Good Time Credit”.  This is time subtracted from your sentence. The credit is a privilege for good behavior, not a right. It does not begin to be counted until after your first year in prison.

Release: There is no parole in the federal criminal justice system. You will serve the majority of your sentence, minus Good Time Credit. You will receive a term of supervised release that begins after you are released. Like probation or parole, supervised release means you have to follow rules and report back to a probation officer. Violating supervised release can mean going back to prison.

CORRESPONDENCE

You must use your own judgment about writing letters. You should not write about the facts of your case to anyone other than your lawyer. If you have any questions about your case or suggestions about it, you should contact your attorney immediately.

Federal Drug Charges in Houston, TX

Houston is in a unique position because of its convenient location. It is a criminal hotbed for illegal drug activity and because of its reputation, law enforcement; the FBI and the DEA are on high alert when it comes to detecting and convicting those guilty of trafficking or other federal drug crimes. Because drug activity is so rampant in Texas, the state has exceptionally harsh penalties for those who commit federal drug crimes. How one is prosecuted will depend on whether or not they have any priors on their record, the type of drug, and the quantity. A prison sentence for a federal drug crime can be as little as five years or it can be as long as life in prison.

The state of Texas has long been involved in a “war on drugs.” Federal prosecutors in the state of Texas come down hard on criminals involved in selling, distributing and trafficking large amounts of drugs. Not only do you face years in prison if convicted, non-citizens face deportation from the United States. At The Charles Johnson Law Firm, we are here to defend you against Federal Drug Charges.

Contact the Best International Federal Drug Crimes AttorneyHouston Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson comprehends the differential factor between State and Federal drug crimes. If in fact you or a loved one are under investigation for a drug crime, or if you have been apprehended for or charged with a drug crime in Texas or Houston, you could face harsher punishment than you expect. If you or a loved one’s alleged crime is based upon large amounts of illegal drugs, transporting or distributing drugs over state lines or over and across the border, or other specific details, you could face federal drug crime charges rather than state charges.

The significant thing to know pertaining federal drug crimes is that a conviction will carry a much harsher punishment, a longer mandatory at the very least sentence, and the possibility of no bond or bail. Attorney Johnson defends cases at the Federal Level that involve drug crimes such as:

  • Federal drug trafficking
  • Federal drug manufacturing
  • Federal drug sales and distribution
  • Internet drug distribution
  • Federal drug importation and transportation
  • Mailing drugs over and across state lines or national borders
  • Drug smuggling into or out of the United States
  • Other crimes related to drugs and money laundering

Contact Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson anytime night or day to discuss your case. You can speak with him directly by calling (713) 222-7577. If in fact you or a loved one think you are part of a federal drug investigation, don’t wait to contact a lawyer you can trust. Rest assured that The Charles Johnson Law Firm will zealously defend you against any type of Federal Drug Charge.

Houston Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson

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Houston Criminal Defense Attorney » Arrested for a Drug Crime? Here are Ways to Beat It.

Hire the Recommended Houston Attorney!

Drug crimes are covered by both federal and state laws in Texas. Federal offenses are regulated by The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, referred to as the Controlled Substances Act.

The Controlled Substances Act covers nearly all of the drug offenses in Texas and is codified within the Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapters 481 through 486. Since Texas is an international border state, drug traffic offenses are a main concern. The state of Texas also has a number of state drug laws which may not be applicable in other states.

What are the penalties for a drug conviction in Texas?

Drug offenses are among the most serious charges in criminal law. They carry with them severe penalties and can have other consequences in areas of one’s life like family life and employment. The legal penalties for drug crimes will depend on the nature of the drug offense, and will generally consist of a fine and/or a lengthy prison sentence. If you are charged with a drug related crime, you’ll need to contact the Best Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Charles Johnson Law Firm as soon as possible. The penalties for committing a drug crime may be fairly severe, including actual prison time, occasionally for numerous years in bigger high profile drug instances. A conviction for a drug-related offense could not just damage your personal and professional reputation, but could result in actual termination from employment or the suspension or revocation of your professional licenses. It is not whether or not you’ll acquire a lawyer, rather, it is who you will get to represent you at your most vulnerable time.

What kinds of factors are considered in sentences for drug crimes?

In determining the sentence for a drug crime, a Texas court will take into account the following elements:

  • The type of drug: The Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs into 5 “Penalty Groups”, with Group 1 being probably the most serious. For instance, cocaine is classified as Penalty Group 1, whereas prescription drugs are Group three.
  • The amount of drugs in possession: Prison sentences or fines will increase based on the quantity of drug possessed. Greater amounts of the exact same drug will result in higher sentences.
  • The purpose for which the drug is used: Simple possession is generally regarded as less severe than other crimes, such as possession with intent to distribute, or manufacturing and delivering drugs
  • Location of the violation: Drug offenses are considered more severe if they take place in certain areas, for example near a school or day care center

Another essential factor that a court will consider is whether the drug offense was combined with another offense. Numerous drug offenses are related to other crimes like conspiracy, theft, or assault. If the drug offense is related to another felony, particularly a violent crime, the penalties will be more severe.

Do I need a lawyer for a drug offense?

Drug offenses are severe and can lead to felony charges. Therefore, the services of Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Charles Johnson may be crucial when dealing with drug charges. This is particularly accurate if the defendant is involved in multiple or repeat offenses. An skilled Houston Lawyer can assist explain the various requirements under Texas drug laws. If you or perhaps a family members member is charged with a crime in the Houston area, contact us for a totally free consultation with a successful criminal defense lawyer. We can offer compassionate legal counsel, accessibility and personal attention, years of encounter, and aggressive protection of your rights.

Arrested for Drugs? Here’s What You Need To Know.

Are you facing charges of intent to distribute cocaine? Are you worried about your teenager who was caught using drugs at school? Have you been arrested for possession of marijuana?

We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For aggressive representation from an experienced drug charge defense lawyer, contact our Houston law office to schedule a free initial consultation. At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, you will find a drug crimes defense attorney who has over a decade of experience protecting the rights of people facing state or federal drug charges.

Aggressive Drug Charge Defense Representation

If you are under investigation or have already been arrested for a drug-related crime, criminal defense attorney Charles Johnson can help. Attorney Johnson is proficient at representation in pre-arrest negotiations, in plea bargain settlements, at trial and on appeal in state and federal drug crime cases.

We represent individuals facing state or federal drug crime charges involving the manufacture, distribution, sale, or possession of illegal drugs, controlled substances, chemicals used in the illicit production of controlled substances (running a meth lab), and drug paraphernalia. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, methaqualone, morphine, phencyclidine (PCP), crack cocaine, methadone, methamphetamine, Anabolic steroids, codeine and/or hydrocodone with aspirin, Valium®, and Xanax® are examples of controlled substances the manufacture, distribution, or possession of which can result in serious state or federal drug crime charges. The Charles Johnson Law Firm strives to ensure that our clients’ rights are protected throughout the entire case.

Drug Possession Charges

At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we are prepared to defend drug charges in court. Don’t let drug charges ruin your future.

When possible, we work to get drug arrests removed from our client’s criminal record through expunction. For high school students, whether charged as an adult or a juvenile, possession of even a very small amount of a drug such as marijuana can result in lost educational opportunities, including attendance at the student’s college of choice or the ability to go to college at all because of student loan ineligibility based on a drug crime conviction. A teenage drug conviction can also result in lost employment opportunities, including ineligibility for certain jobs or future career advancement. In Texas, possession of an illegal drug or a controlled substance can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the type and amount of drugs involved. If a plea bargain is in our client’s best interests, we will work hard to get the best deal possible.

Motion to Revoke Probation (MTR)

If you are facing a probation revocation because of a probation violation, we can help. We understand that there are often psychological issues, such as bipolar disorder, underlying many drug problems, and we work on getting you the treatment you need and probation, reinstatement or termination instead of prison time.

Houston Drug Charges Defense: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

When you are facing an arrest and possible conviction for a drug crime, your future is on the line. To learn how we can help defend you against drug charges, contact our skilled Houston, Texas criminal defense lawyer today for a free initial consultation.

We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
Major Credit Cards Accepted.

 
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