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Federal Drug Trafficking Cases in Atlanta

April 4, 2024

Federal Drug Trafficking Cases in Atlanta: What You Need to Know

A Harsh Reality

Drug trafficking is a serious federal offense — one that carries severe penalties. If you’re facing charges related to drug trafficking in the Atlanta area, it’s crucial to understand the gravity of the situation and take immediate action to protect your rights.Our federal criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience handling drug trafficking cases in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. We know how prosecutors build these cases, and we’re well-versed in the most effective defense strategies. Don’t try to navigate this complex legal landscape alone.

What Constitutes Drug Trafficking?

Under federal law, drug trafficking involves the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. This includes drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and prescription medications.Even possessing a relatively small amount of drugs can potentially lead to trafficking charges if prosecutors believe you intended to sell or distribute the substances. Factors like drug quantities, packaging materials, large amounts of cash, and the presence of weapons can all be used as evidence of trafficking intent.

The Penalties Are Severe

The penalties for federal drug trafficking convictions are harsh, with sentences ranging from 5 years to life in prison — depending on the type and amount of drugs involved, as well as other aggravating factors.You could also face steep fines, asset forfeiture, and a permanent criminal record that will haunt you for the rest of your life. A trafficking conviction makes it extremely difficult to find employment, housing, or educational opportunities down the road.With so much at stake, having an experienced federal drug trafficking lawyer on your side is absolutely essential.

Aggressive Tactics from Prosecutors

Federal prosecutors are relentless when it comes to drug trafficking cases. They have immense resources at their disposal, including:

  • Wiretaps
  • Surveillance
  • Confidential informants
  • Undercover sting operations

They’ll use any means necessary to build a strong case against you. That’s why you need an equally fierce legal advocate fighting for your rights every step of the way.Our federal criminal defense team has taken on — and defeated — even the most complex drug trafficking prosecutions. We know how to dismantle the government’s evidence and poke holes in their arguments.

Potential Defenses Against Trafficking Charges

While drug trafficking charges are extremely serious, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically guilty. There are a number of potential defenses we may be able to raise, such as:

  • Lack of knowledge (you were unaware drugs were present)
  • Unlawful search and seizure
  • Entrapment by law enforcement
  • Mistaken identity
  • Drugs belonged to someone else

The key is carefully analyzing every aspect of the case to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments. Our lawyers have a keen eye for detail and will leave no stone unturned in building a strong defense on your behalf.

Don’t Talk to Investigators

If you’re under investigation or have already been charged with drug trafficking, the absolute worst thing you can do is speak to law enforcement without an attorney present. Anything you say can and will be used against you.Investigators are trained to take advantage of people’s emotional states and trick them into making incriminating statements or confessions. Don’t fall into this trap. Invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.Then, contact our firm immediately. We’ll step in and deal with law enforcement to ensure your rights are fully protected.

State vs Federal Charges

It’s important to note that drug trafficking charges can be brought at either the state or federal level. Federal cases tend to be more severe for a few key reasons:

  • The potential penalties are harsher under federal law
  • Federal prosecutors have greater resources to devote to each case
  • There is no parole at the federal level

If you’re facing federal charges, having an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer is absolutely crucial. The stakes are simply too high to go it alone.

Our Federal Drug Trafficking Defense Strategy

At our firm, we take an aggressive, multi-pronged approach to defending federal drug trafficking cases. Our comprehensive strategy includes:

  • Challenging the legality of any searches, seizures, or surveillance
  • Scrutinizing the handling and testing of all evidence
  • Investigating for potential entrapment or misconduct by law enforcement
  • Negotiating with prosecutors for reduced charges or sentencing where possible
  • Preparing thoroughly for trial and forcefully attacking the prosecution’s case

We leave no stone unturned in pursuing the best possible outcome for our clients. Our team of former federal prosecutors gives us unique insight into how the other side operates — allowing us to anticipate their strategies and stay one step ahead.

Why Hire Our Firm?

When it comes to federal drug trafficking charges, having the right legal representation is paramount. Here are a few key reasons to hire our firm:

  • Over 50 years of combined federal criminal defense experience
  • Aggressive litigation strategies and proven courtroom success
  • Extensive familiarity with federal laws, procedures, and sentencing guidelines
  • Personalized attention and 24/7 availability for every client
  • Reasonable fees and flexible payment plans

We understand how stressful and overwhelming federal charges can be. You can count on us to guide you through this difficult process with compassion and unwavering dedication to protecting your rights.Don’t take chances with your future — contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation. The sooner we get involved, the better we can defend you.

Potential Consequences Beyond Jail Time

While avoiding incarceration is obviously the top priority in any federal drug case, it’s important to be aware of some of the other potential consequences that can stem from a trafficking conviction:

  • Substantial fines and fees (often $1 million or more)
  • Forfeiture of assets used in the commission of the crime
  • Ineligibility for federal student loans and public housing
  • Deportation for non-U.S. citizens
  • Loss of certain civil rights (voting, gun ownership, etc.)
  • Difficulty finding employment due to criminal record

A drug trafficking charge can derail your entire life in an instant. Having an experienced federal defense lawyer on your side is crucial to mitigating these potential penalties as much as possible.

Don’t Delay – Hire a Lawyer Immediately

Time is of the essence when it comes to federal drug trafficking charges. Prosecutors start building their case from the moment an investigation begins. The sooner you have legal representation, the better we can start poking holes in the government’s arguments and formulating a defense strategy.Many people make the mistake of waiting too long to hire an attorney, thinking they can handle things on their own at first. This is a huge risk that can severely jeopardize your case and your future.As soon as you become aware of an investigation or charges against you, contact our firm right away. The initial consultation is free and completely confidential. We’ll review the details of your situation and lay out all your options moving forward.

Potential Sentencing Enhancements

In federal drug trafficking cases, there are a number of factors that can lead to enhanced, harsher sentences if convicted. Some common examples include:

  • Possession of a firearm in relation to the drug crime
  • Use of violence or credible threats
  • Trafficking activity that involved minors
  • Leadership role in a drug trafficking organization
  • Large quantities of drugs involved
  • Prior drug convictions on your record

Prosecutors are incentivized to pursue the most severe penalties possible. Having an experienced defense lawyer to counter their arguments and mitigate these potential sentencing enhancements is absolutely vital.

The Importance of Remaining Silent

We cannot stress this enough — do not make any statements to law enforcement without your attorney present. Anything you say can and will be used against you, even if it seems harmless or like you’re just trying to explain your side of the story.Investigators are trained in interrogation tactics designed to elicit incriminating statements and confessions. They may make promises or threats to coerce you into talking. Don’t fall for it.Invoke your 5th Amendment right to remain silent and your 6th Amendment right to legal counsel. Then, contact our firm immediately so we can take over all communication and protect your rights.

Potential Defenses: Entrapment

One potential defense strategy in some federal drug cases is entrapment. This involves showing that you only committed the alleged crime because of harassment, coercion, or other improper tactics by law enforcement.For an entrapment defense to be valid, we must prove:

  1. The idea to commit the crime originated from law enforcement, not you.
  2. You were not already predisposed to commit the criminal act prior to law enforcement involvement.

Entrapment cases are highly complex and fact-specific. Having an experienced federal drug crimes lawyer to properly investigate and argue entrapment is critical.

Potential Defenses: Illegal Search & Seizure

The 4th Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. If the drugs or other evidence in your case were obtained illegally, we may be able to get it suppressed and thrown out.Some examples of illegal search and seizure include:

  • Searches conducted without a valid warrant
  • Overly broad or vague search warrants
  • Excessive force or violation of your rights during an arrest
  • Entrapment or other police misconduct

Our lawyers have extensive experience filing motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence. Don’t let prosecutors violate your constitutional rights.

Conspiracy Charges in Drug Trafficking Cases

In many federal drug cases, prosecutors will also bring conspiracy charges in addition to the underlying trafficking offenses. Under conspiracy laws, you can be charged for agreeing to commit a crime, even if you didn’t actually carry it out yourself.Conspiracy charges allow prosecutors to cast a wider net and go after more defendants. They only need to prove you agreed to participate in the drug operation in some way.Defending against conspiracy allegations requires a nuanced legal strategy. Our federal drug crime defense team has successfully beaten conspiracy charges for many clients.

The Importance of Hiring Local Counsel

While our firm has a nationwide presence, there are distinct advantages to hiring local Atlanta lawyers for your federal drug case. Attorneys with extensive experience in the Atlanta federal courts understand:

  • The policies and preferences of local prosecutors
  • How specific judges tend to rule on certain issues
  • Nuances of local law enforcement tactics and procedures

Having this inside knowledge allows us to formulate smarter, more effective defense strategies tailored to the Atlanta legal landscape. Don’t underestimate the value of local experience.

Potential Defenses: Lack of Knowledge

In some drug trafficking cases, the defendant was genuinely unaware that drugs were present or being transported. This could form the basis for a “lack of knowledge” defense.For example, if you were simply the driver of a vehicle and had no idea drugs were hidden inside, you may have a valid defense. Or if you were renting out property that ended up being used for drug operations without your knowledge.Of course, prosecutors will vigorously challenge this defense. Having an experienced lawyer to properly investigate the circumstances and argue your lack of knowledge is key.

Potential Defenses: Mistaken Identity

With the prevalence of undercover operations and confidential informants, it’s not uncommon for law enforcement to incorrectly identify someone as being involved in drug trafficking activity. If this happened in your case, we can work to get you exonerated.Some examples of mistaken identity include:

  • Flawed photo lineups or eyewitness misidentification
  • Incorrect analysis of phone records or surveillance footage
  • Reliance on untrustworthy informants with ulterior motives

Our lawyers will thoroughly examine all evidence to expose any mistaken identity issues. Your freedom may depend on it.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

One particularly harsh aspect of federal drug laws is the existence of mandatory minimum sentences. This means if you’re convicted, the judge has no discretion and must sentence you to at least a certain number of years in prison based on the charges.For example, trafficking offenses involving larger quantities like 5 kilograms of cocaine or 1000 kilograms of marijuana carry a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence. And that’s just the minimum — sentences can go much higher from there.Having an experienced federal drug lawyer to strategically negotiate charges and advocate for you at sentencing is critical to avoiding these draconian mandatory minimums.

The Importance of Thorough Investigation

Developing a strong defense in any federal drug case requires an exhaustive investigation into all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the charges. This includes:

  • Interviewing and deposing all potential witnesses
  • Examining all physical and documentary evidence
  • Scrutinizing law enforcement procedures for any missteps
  • Recreating events through crime scene analysis
  • Utilizing private investigators where necessary

Our firm leaves no stone unturned when it comes to investigating our clients’ cases. We have the resources and experience to uncover any weaknesses or inconsistencies that could lead to dismissed charges or an acquittal.

Potential Defenses: Drugs Belonged to Someone Else

In some trafficking cases, the defendant is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when drugs are discovered. If you can show the drugs belonged to someone else and you had no knowledge or intent to distribute them, you may have a valid defense.For example, perhaps you were simply present at a friend’s home and had no idea they were dealing drugs out of that residence. Or you borrowed a vehicle that unknown to you contained drugs.Establishing this defense requires a careful analysis of all the evidence. Our lawyers know how to effectively raise doubts about possession and intent.

Challenging Confidential Informants

Federal prosecutors often rely heavily on confidential informants in building drug trafficking cases. These informants have strong incentives to lie or embellish in order to curry favor with the government.Our team has successfully challenged and discredited confidential informants in many cases. We’ll thoroughly investigate their backgrounds, criminal histories, and any consideration or payments they received from prosecutors.If we can undermine the credibility of these informants, it can be a huge blow to the prosecution’s case against you. Don’t let shady informants determine your fate.

Potential Defenses: Outrageous Government Conduct

In some rare cases, law enforcement engages in conduct that is so outrageous and unconscionable that it violates fundamental principles of due process. When this occurs, we may be able to get charges dismissed entirely on those grounds.Examples of outrageous government conduct could include:

  • Excessive force, threats, or harassment during an investigation
  • Law enforcement actively coercing or pushing someone into committing a crime
  • Blatant racism, discrimination, or other civil rights violations

While this is an extremely high bar to meet, our lawyers will scrutinize every aspect of the investigation and prosecution for any signs of misconduct.

Challenging the Admissibility of Evidence

In many federal drug cases, a huge part of the defense strategy involves filing motions to suppress or exclude certain evidence from being admitted at trial. This could include:

  • Evidence obtained through illegal searches and seizures
  • Statements made without being read Miranda rights
  • Improperly gathered wiretap or surveillance evidence
  • Drug evidence that was mishandled or compromised
  • Testimony from unreliable informants or witnesses

By limiting the evidence prosecutors can use against you, we can severely undermine their case. Our lawyers are skilled at these evidentiary challenges.

Plea Bargaining in Federal Drug Cases

While our firm takes an aggressive stance in fighting charges, we also recognize that in some cases, a negotiated plea agreement may be the best path forward for our clients. Federal prosecutors often use the threat of harsh mandatory minimums as leverage in plea negotiations.If we do advise accepting a plea deal, you can rest assured we will have thoroughly reviewed all evidence and circumstances to determine if it’s truly in your best interests. We will also work tirelessly to negotiate the most favorable terms possible.Our goal is to pursue the best outcome for you, whether that means taking the case to trial or resolving it through a plea. You can count on us to provide candid, trusted advice every step of the way.

The Importance of Being Proactive

If you’re under investigation or have been charged with federal drug crimes, being proactive about your defense is absolutely crucial. The earlier our team can get involved, the better we can start developing a comprehensive strategy to protect your rights.Many people make the mistake of waiting too long before hiring an attorney. This allows prosecutors to build a stronger case against you without any pushback. Don’t let that happen.As soon as you become aware of an investigation, contact our firm immediately for a free, confidential consultation. We’ll review all the details and start working on your defense right away.

Potential Defenses: Unwitting Participation

In some trafficking cases, the defendant may have been involved in the criminal operation to some degree, but had no actual knowledge that drugs were part of the activities. This could form the basis for an “unwitting participation” defense.For example, perhaps you agreed to transport what you thought was cash from one place to another, but were unaware the money was drug proceeds. Or you allowed your property to be used for meetings, not realizing drugs were being discussed.Raising this defense requires carefully examining your level of knowledge and intent. Our lawyers are skilled at creating reasonable doubt around these issues.

Challenging the Credibility of Witnesses

Federal drug prosecutions often rely heavily on testimony from co-defendants, informants, or other witnesses with potential biases or ulterior motives. Part of our defense strategy involves rigorously attacking the credibility of these witnesses.We’ll investigate their backgrounds, criminal histories, and any incentives or consideration they received from the government in exchange for testifying.

Lawyers You Can Trust

Todd Spodek

Founding Partner

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RALPH P. FRANCHO, JR

Associate

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JEREMY FEIGENBAUM

Associate Attorney

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ELIZABETH GARVEY

Associate

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CLAIRE BANKS

Associate

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RAJESH BARUA

Of-Counsel

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CHAD LEWIN

Of-Counsel

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