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What is Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances?
Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances is usually a federal charge made by federal authorities when someone is arrested by federal agents for a drug crime, although Texas conspiracy charges can also be made in drug arrests.
- Conspiracy. Under 18 USC §371, federal law defines a “conspiracy” as any agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. Texas has a similar definition in Texas Penal Code Section 15.02.
- Controlled Substances. Under the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (“the Controlled Substances Act”), certain drugs are made illegal and are then placed in five classes, or schedules, of severity: narcotics is treated as a harsher drug with a more serious punishment than marijuana, for example. Texas law is almost identical in following the federal Controlled Substances Act in Chapters 481 – 486 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
When drugs are involved, the prosecutor must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction for conspiracy and he or she can use circumstantial evidence to do it:
- there was an agreement or plan to violate a federal drug statute;
- the defendant knew about this plan and intended to join the conspiracy; and
- there was at least one single act that was taken to move the plan along, or to “further the conspiracy.”
Once the conspiracy is proven, then stiff penalties can be assessed with many years behind bars in federal prisons under the Controlled Substances Act and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
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Defending Against Charges of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances in Texas
The charge of “Conspiracy” is commonplace in federal drug cases, and federal prosecutors will add it to the charges the defendant faces if they have evidence to support the claim that the person was conspiring, or planning, with other people (who may or may not have also been arrested) to possess a controlled substance (illegal drug) or to distribute the drug (controlled substance).
It does not matter if there was not any delivery or distribution of any drugs: the charge can result in a conviction if the government can prove up just “planning” or “conspiring” happened at some point.
Often, Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance will be a complex case with a group of people facing the conspiracy charges and a large amount of drugs or controlled substances being involved. In North Texas, the following drugs form the basis for a lot of these federal conspiracies to distribute controlled substances cases:
- Heroin / Black Tar Heroin
- Ecstasy / MDMA
- Cocaine / Cocaine Base (Crack) /Powder Cocaine
- Meth / Crystal Meth (“ICE”) / Methamphetamine
Different varieties of these drugs get different treatment under the law. Cocaine base (crack cocaine) for example was recognized in 2010 as being different than powder cocaine and Congress passed an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act to reflect that increased amounts of crack cocaine will be necessary to meet certain penalties under the statute.
Also, not all Methamphetamine is the same and this is recognized in the law. Crystalized methamphetamine, nicknamed “crystal meth” “tina,” “krank,” “tweak,” or “ice,” can be smoked in a pipe and is more potent than other forms of meth. Accordingly, it has been given different treatment under the law and convictions for conspiracies to distribute ice or crystal meth get harsher sentences. Mexican Ice is a common basis for arrest in Texas, as imported crystal meth is a lucrative enterprise where ice is moved across the border and sold.
Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances: Serious Federal Charges – Enhancement
In Texas, federal authorities are very likely to add a Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances charge to any drug crime arrest or charge they can – and if they can enhance that conspiracy charge because of firearms or weapons found with a co-conspirator, then they’ll do so. (Federal prosecutors have argued with success that even if the defendant swears he or she had no knowledge that an alleged co-conspirator in a drug crime had a gun, it is reasonable for them to assume that the dangers of drugs mean someone will be armed.) Enhancing charges means that convictions come with much higher sentences and time behind bars.
Heroin Death Cases
Additionally, federal authorities will be anxious to charge conspiracy to distribute controlled substances in cases where someone has died from a drug overdose in a social setting. Two friends, for example, who share some heroin at a weekend party with one of them tragically dying from the heroin use, may see the pal or buddy who scored the drug facing federal conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance charges, in addition to other federal drug charges.
“Heroin death cases” are well known, for example, on the federal trial docket of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Heroin death cases can carry a minimum of 20 years in Federal Prison if convicted.
Today, in North Texas, heroin (particularly black tar heroin) is popular with teens and college students, since it is socially acceptable in many circles; it is priced comparably to marijuana; and it is easy to get. High school students in places like Plano, Denton, Louisville, Carrollton, Flower Mound, and other affluent Dallas communities may be at risk of a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances felony charges on any given weekend, if law enforcement authorities were to find and arrest them.
Dallas Conspiracy / Distribution of Controlled Substances Defense Lawyer
As a former prosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer with over 150 jury trials defending clients against charges brought by district attorneys and U.S. federal prosecutors in Dallas County, Tarrant County, and elsewhere in the State of Texas, Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Michael Lowe not only brings his years of experience to each case, he also dedicates 100% of his law practice to the defense of those being accused of a crime under Texas or federal law.
With a streamlined law firm that coordinates its efforts to give each client the personal attention that they need and deserve when fighting against the government and the possibility of jail time, fines, permanent marks on public records, prison incarceration, loss of licensure, loss of jobs, absence from family events and everyday living, Michael Lowe maintains an efficient and excellent criminal trial practice that is ready to help you or your loved ones in your defense against criminal charges from pre-arrest investigation to post-trial appeals.
To discuss your case in a free and completely confidential consultation, please contact Dallas Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Michael Lowe today.