federal courthouseThis is the next post in my series on the handling of drug trafficking charges in Austin, Texas. My last article discussed attending trial in a drug trafficking case. It is important to understand that the rules of evidence will be followed by the Court. It is, therefore, important that you retain an attorney who is versed in trial practice and will present a concise case to the jurors. In this article I will discuss what to expect when a defendant is facing such charges in federal court, specifically the Western District of Texas. Not all attorneys are licensed to practice in federal court so it is important that you choose counsel who can assist you. I am able to handle federal matters and am Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

If one is facing federal drug trafficking charges then that means that they have been charged by the U.S. government and the case is being handled by the Department of Justice. The charges will fall under Title 18 of the U.S. criminal code and the federal rules of evidence and procedure will apply. As in state court, the defendant may file a Motion to Suppress evidence which was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Depending on the facts of the case, successfully suppressing the admission of the drugs into evidence may lead to a dismissal of the charges. If such an outcome is not possible then the case will be resolved through either a plea agreement or a trial.

An important difference between state and federal court is that if an individual is convicted in the latter then they will be sentenced pursuant to the U.S. sentencing guidelines. It is not mandatory that the Court follow these guidelines but most judges will typically do so. The guidelines provide a mathematical formula which assists in the calculation of a defendant’s sentence. Time will be added to the sentence, for example, if the defendant was in possession of a firearm at the time that they were arrested. Time will be subtracted from the potential sentence, however, if the accused individual “accepts responsibility” and enters a guilty plea. The Court, again, may choose to disregard the guidelines entirely. The Court may also choose to follow the guidelines but may grant a “downward departure,” meaning that the Judge issues a lesser sentence than what is suggested by the guidelines. Many individuals are surprised to learn of the differences in the federal sentencing system. An experienced attorney can assist you in understanding your rights as the case moves forward.

If you or a family member have been charged in a federal case then it is crucial that you contact qualified counsel immediately. While all criminal matters are serious, the federal process is seen as more formal and unforgiving than state court. If the case is not handled properly, from the outset, then the defense may be seriously hindered. I am an Austin federal defense lawyer and have been practicing law since 1995. I pride myself on providing the highest level of service to each of my clients and I believe that everyone is entitled to respect. Contact my office online or by telephone today to schedule an initial consultation.

In addition to handling matters in the Western District of Texas, I also handle state matters in Austin, Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos.