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Do Federal Drug Crimes Carry Mandatory Minimum Sentences?

Posted by John Rogers | Mar 12, 2021

The United States has some of the harshest penalties in the world. Even innocuous acts involving the transportation or distribution of drugs can impact someone's life forever. Although the DEA has repeatedly announced a “War on Drugs” – a proverbial terms for combating drug cartels and street sales, there is annual congressional discussions about changing the current federal drug laws.

Drug sentencing is one of the most complex areas in federal law. The substance amount, purity level, and the suspect's role are significant factors that must be calculated. Some federal drug crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences.

For instance, a person arrested for having 300 grams of heroin in their backpack may be federally charged with possession with the intent to distribute heroin. Despite not actually selling any substance, the suspect would face a mandatory minimum of 5 years in federal prison. Similarly, a person arrested for 50 grams of pure methamphetamine on their person may face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

Additional enhancements may apply that would elevate the mandatory minimum sentence if the suspect:

  • Used a firearm to further a drug trafficking crime;
  • Suffers from a prior serious drug felony and/or serious violent felony;
  • Death or serious bodily injury resulted.

Mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases are mandated by statute. A judge has no ability to sentence a defendant below the mandatory minimum unless the defendant:

  • Satisfies the requirements for a safety valve; or
  • Provides substantial assistance to the government.

Not all federal drug charges carry mandatory minimum sentences. But it is very important to enlist the help of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney who can properly advise you of the legal consequences. If you are facing federal charges, give us a call to schedule a free confidential consultation concerning your rights, defenses, and sentencing exposure.

About the Author

John Rogers

*State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Law *Top 40 Under 40 by the National Trial Lawyers Association *Selected “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine *Federal Criminal Defense Representation Nationwide *Personalized Attention & 24/7 Accessibility


Orange County federal crimes lawyer John Rogers is committed to providing exceptional representation all throughout California federal courts.

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