Federal Drug Crime Attorney
Defending Clients in Broward for Over Two Decades
The United States Sentencing Commission reported nearly 70,000 individual drug cases in 2018, making them the second most common type of federal case in the 2018 fiscal year. Drug crimes accounted for 28% of total federal offenses reported to the Commission. From investigation to sentencing, drug cases are complex, and every state has different rules that are modeled after the federal process.
Our drug crime attorney is here to help. If you have been arrested for a federal drug crime, you may be feeling fearful and uncertain about what your future holds. We are here to alleviate those fears and develop a strong defense for your case. Our firm is proud to serve clients in Broward and the surrounding areas.
If you have been accused of a federal drug crime, contact The Hoffman Firm today.
Investigation: the First Step in the Federal Process
The first step in a federal drug case is the investigation. Agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigate and obtain evidence related to the case. These investigations often involve a search warrant that allows investigators to access possible evidence in cars, houses, and/or personal belongings.
You cannot be arrested during the investigation stage unless law enforcement and investigators have probable cause and an arrest warrant. The only exception is if police witness the crime in real time.
Generally speaking, there are two types of evidence:
- Direct evidence is the determining factor for whether a drug case goes to a Federal Grand Jury. This type of evidence can include eyewitnesses, security footage, and records.
- Circumstantial evidence is that which was obtained indirectly or based on the witness's perception.
The prosecutor will look at both types of evidence to determine the charges.
After evaluating the evidence provided by investigators and eyewitnesses, the prosecutor will decide whether the case will go to a grand jury. If he or she chooses to present the case to a jury, the accused receives an indictment that contains the charges held against them.
The duty of a grand jury is to listen and observe the proceedings and determine whether the accused will be charged. Juries consist of 16-23 members of the public who have no connection to the accused or the crime. States are not required to use grand juries, but many do. Florida uses a grand jury in felony cases.
Once the defendant is charged, they can hire a legal representative or be assigned a public defender. The defense attorney informs the defendant of the law and evidence in their case while the prosecutor represents the Government. These cases take place in United States District Courts. There are over 90 district courts in the United States, and some states have more than one. After the jury had decided to charge the defendant, they go through the initial hearing or arraignment.
The defendant goes before a magistrate judge during the initial hearing. The purpose of an arraignment is to inform the defendant of their rights and if they will be in prison until the trial. A defendant may not have to go to jail if they can post bail. Bail is often a sum of money that the defendant can pay to avoid jail time. The judge sets the amount if they choose to grant it. The arraignment culminates in a plea of guilty or not guilty from the defendant.
Plea bargaining is an option in some cases that allows the defendant to avoid trial and reduce his or her sentence. The judge presiding over the court will then impose the penalty. If the defendant pleads guilty, the next step is a sentencing hearing without a trial.
The hearing must take place within two weeks of the defendant's imprisonment, or within 21 days if they are out on bail. Essentially, the preliminary hearing is a miniature trial. Witnesses and evidence related to the drug case are shown to the court.
The prosecutor can also file a motion at this time. A motion is essentially a request to decide on a specific part of the case before trial. For example, the prosecutor may file a motion to suppress to keep pieces of evidence or individual statements from being shown as official evidence in the trial. This can happen if the police acquired the evidence without probable cause or a warrant.
The critical difference between a trial and a hearing is that evidence is shown at a hearing that could not be shown to a jury during the trial. The judge determines whether the evidence establishes probable cause and, if so, the court schedules the trial.
The coup de grâce of a federal drug case is the trial. The first element of a trial is jury selection. The jurors are selected randomly from a pool compiled from voter registration records in the district. Prosecutors and defenders are not allowed to discriminate when selecting the jury.
Important elements of the case include witness statements, objections from either the prosecutor or defender, and the verdict's announcement. The prosecution can question the defendant if necessary.
Objections serve as a check to either the prosecution or defense. The most common objections are based on hearsay and relevance. For example, a witness may testify that they heard about the crime from someone else, or the prosecution may present irrelevant evidence. The judge decides the outcome of the objection.
Closing arguments are the final opportunity for the prosecution and defense to speak to the jury. Often, the attorneys use closing statements to summarize the case.
After closing statements, the jury decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. No-one associated with the trial outside of the jurors can be a part of the deliberation. When they have reached an agreement, they notify the judge. From there, the judge reads the verdict, and if the defendant is found guilty, they will receive sentencing.
Drug cases are serious offenses. States have their own rules for drug crimes, but the process can be prolonged when handled by the federal government. A drug case outcome isn't guaranteed, but strong legal representation is critical for those accused of drug crimes.
Attorney Evan Hoffman has nearly 20 years of complex criminal trial experience. To date, he has handled over 100 jury trials and 120 non-jury trials in his legal career. The Hoffman Firm has a track record of success and a detailed approach to legal practice. Choose a strong firm to fight for you.
If you are a facing federal drug crime charges in Broward, contact The Hoffman Firm today to find out how we can fight for your case.
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