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Fighting a Drug Conspiracy Indictment: What to Expect

Fighting a Drug Conspiracy Indictment: What to Expect

Being charged with a federal drug conspiracy is scary. Conspiracy charges allow prosecutors to cast a wide net and bring in all sorts of evidence that may not directly relate to you. They can also lead to harsh mandatory minimum sentences.But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed. With an experienced defense attorney on your side, you can fight the charges and protect your rights. Here’s what to expect when fighting a federal drug conspiracy indictment and some of the most effective legal defenses.

Understanding Federal Drug Conspiracy Laws

The main federal drug conspiracy statute is 21 U.S.C. § 846. It says that anyone who attempts or conspires to commit a federal drug crime can be punished the same as if they had completed the crime.So prosecutors don’t need to prove you actually committed the crime – just that you agreed to do it 1.

 The alleged conspiracy doesn’t even have to be successful. If two people agree to sell drugs and take some step toward that goal, they can be charged even if they never make a sale 2.

Conspiracy charges are common in federal drug cases because they allow prosecutors to go after entire drug operations, not just individuals 3.
 They can use one defendant’s testimony and evidence against other alleged co-conspirators.The penalties are also harsh. Federal drug conspiracy convictions carry mandatory minimum sentences of 5 or 10 years in prison, depending on the drug amount. And if someone dies from use of the drugs, you can face up to life in prison 4.

Common Defenses Against Drug Conspiracy Charges

Just because you’re charged doesn’t make you guilty. An experienced federal drug crimes lawyer can raise several legal and factual defenses to fight the charges, such as:

  • No agreement to join the conspiracy. Prosecutors have to prove you agreed to join the conspiracy. But maybe you didn’t agree at all or didn’t realize illegal activity was happening. Your lawyer can argue there’s no evidence you intended to join.
  • You withdrew from the conspiracy. Even if you were involved initially, you can argue you withdrew before any crime was committed

    . This can negate your liability.

  • You had no knowledge of the conspiracy. Prosecutors must prove you knew about the conspiracy. But maybe you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time or had no idea what your co-defendants were doing.
  • Entrapment. This argues that you only got involved with drugs because of pressure and inducement by government agents. If police manipulated you into committing a crime you otherwise wouldn’t, this defense may apply.
  • Illegal police conduct. If evidence was obtained illegally – through an improper search, coerced confession, etc. – your lawyer can seek to have it excluded. This could cripple the prosecution’s case.
  • Mistaken identity. Perhaps police arrested the wrong person or unreliable witnesses falsely identified you. Your attorney can show you weren’t involved at all.

The Steps in Fighting a Federal Drug Conspiracy Case

Here are some of the key stages to expect when facing federal drug conspiracy charges:

Arrest and Initial Hearing

If arrested on federal drug charges, you’ll be brought before a judge promptly for an initial appearance. This is where bail is set and a preliminary hearing date is chosen. Don’t say anything about the case without your lawyer present.

Grand Jury Indictment

Prosecutors will present evidence to a grand jury to try to get an indictment against you. Your lawyer can’t be there, but can argue against indictment if given advance notice. If indicted, you’ll be arraigned and enter an initial plea.

Discovery and Pretrial Motions

Next is the discovery process, where your attorney can request and review prosecution evidence to build a defense. They’ll also file pretrial motions to suppress evidence, dismiss charges, etc. This is a crucial stage for challenging the government’s case.

Plea Negotiations

Many drug conspiracy cases end in plea bargains. An experienced lawyer may be able to negotiate a favorable deal – for example, pleading to a lesser charge to reduce your sentence. But don’t plead guilty unless you’re absolutely certain it’s the right move.


If no plea is reached, your case will go to trial. Your lawyer will vigorously cross-examine witnesses, object to evidence, and present witnesses and evidence to show your innocence. Drug conspiracy trials can be complex, so having an experienced trial lawyer is key.


If convicted, your lawyer will compile mitigating evidence and argue for the lowest possible sentence under federal guidelines. In some cases, they may be able to get mandatory minimums waived. Aggressive sentencing advocacy could potentially reduce your prison time.

Finding the Right Federal Drug Conspiracy Lawyer

Facing federal drug conspiracy charges is frightening. But an experienced federal criminal defense attorney can thoroughly analyze the evidence, identify weaknesses, raise solid defenses, and protect your rights through every stage. This gives you the best chance at beating the charges or minimizing the penalties.When researching lawyers, look for someone with extensive experience in complex federal cases, a track record of winning drug trials, and knowledge of federal sentencing laws. Also consider chemistry – you want a lawyer who will fight aggressively on your behalf.Don’t leave your fate to just any lawyer. Contact a dedicated federal drug conspiracy attorney today to discuss your best defense. The right lawyer makes all the difference.












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