Federal drug allegations are serious matters. Many federal drug prosecutions involve potential mandatory minimum prison terms that require convicted drug offenders to spend a minimum amount of time behind bars. One of the most serious types of drug-related convictions - for participating in a conspiracy - can punish the defendant for the actions of others, resulting in liability for more than the amount of drugs the person sold or possessed himself. A recent opinion handed down by a federal appellate court places limitations on the government's ability to charge drug offenders with conspiracy for simply purchasing drugs from a group of drug dealers.
Being investigated, prosecuted, and convicted by a federal court is never a pleasant experience. The long and drawn-out process can wear a person down without ever having a prison sentence imposed on them. But the real anguish comes at sentencing, when a convicted federal defendant has their fate determined. Although many would like to believe otherwise, a sentence is not completely up to a federal judicial officer. Mandatory minimum sentences required by many federal laws play a crucial role in deciding how long a person will be spending behind bars or under a supervised release program. Some of the mandatory sentences have been called particularly harsh and even cruel, but a change may be on the horizon.