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What is a Serious Drug Felony?

Posted by John Rogers | Feb 16, 2021

Federal drug crimes are usually charged under 21 U.S.C. § 841. The sentencing calculations for drug charges is extremely complex. Depending on the substance amount, purity level, and offense conduct, a person may find themselves subject to a mandatory minimum sentence if convicted. This means that a judge must sentence a defendant to a minimum amount of time unless the defendant is:

A mandatory minimum sentence may elevate depending on your prior criminal history. Moreover, if you suffer from a prior serious drug felony conviction, in either state or federal court, then your mandatory minimum sentence may double. For example, if you are subjected to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, and you were previously convicted of a serious drug felony, then you may face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years.

A serious drug felony is:

  • When you were previously convicted of a felony under the Controlled Substance Act, or an offense in state court involving manufacturing, drug distribution, or processing with intent to manufacture or distribute;
  • The maximum sentence was 10 years or more in prison;
  • You served a term of imprisonment for more than 12 months;
  • Your release from imprisonment was within the last 15 years.[1]

A serious drug offense also includes prior episodes of conspiracy or attempted crimes so long as the punishment for those crimes carry 10 or more years in prison.

The criminal penalties with having a prior serious drug felony conviction can be enormous and life-changing. The penalties are part of the legislatures aim to combat drug trafficking and punish repeat offenders.

If you are under investigation for a drug crime and/or are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence based on your prior record, then you must enlist the help of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. Early intervention may help deflect the government's case against you.

Legal Footnotes:

[1] See 18 U.S.C. § 802(57).

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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


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