What Makes A Drug Crime A Federal Offense – Disagreements among Senate Republicans threaten federal criminal justice reform, one of the few legislative reforms President Obama can push through Congress in his final year. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall by a favorable 15-5 vote with support from senators, the White House and political advocacy groups. From Koch Industries to the ACLU. Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) described the bill as “truly historic legislation” aimed at “statutory over-incarceration of violent drug offenders and masterminds.”
But recently, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) led a group of Republican senators who opposed the bill. Speaking on the Senate floor earlier this week, Senator Cotton expressed concern that the Prison Reform and Corrections Act would “reduce the sentences of [prisoners] convicted of minor felonies and penalize large drug dealers with millions of dollars.” heroin or thousands of pounds of marijuana.” Countering the bill’s proponents, Cotton argued that “drug trafficking is not without violence,” but rather “an industry built on an entire edifice of violence. Part of it is from drug terrorists in South America. Our drugs. City streets.
What Makes A Drug Crime A Federal Offense
In its nearly 285 pages of proceedings, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act touches on many elements of the criminal justice system, from reforming sentencing guidelines for drug and violent offenders to providing recidivism reduction programs for federal prisons, to introducing restrictions on use. Juvenile solitary confinement. However, GOP divisions are clear on sentencing reform for federal drug offenders. The debate is based on clear class distinctions: What types of drug offenders pose the greatest threat to public safety?
Criminal Justice Reform: The Facts About Federal Drug Offenders
First, let’s put the scope and scope of the law into context. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is a federal law, so it only applies to inmates at the federal level. Of the more than 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, only 9% (210,567) are held at the federal level. In contrast, 59% (1,350,958) of the US prison population is at the state level, and the remaining 32% (744,592) is at the local level [Figure 1]. Corrections at the federal level holds a relatively small number of people incarcerated in the United States.
Of the 210,567 federally incarcerated, 50% were drug offenders [Figure 2]. The vast majority (95.1%) of these offenders can be classified as drug traffickers because they are guilty of, under §2D1.1, the “unlawful manufacture, importation, export, or sale (including possession for the purpose of committing these crimes); attempting or Whereas, Only 0.8 percent were sentenced to prison for illegal possession [Figure 3].
However, a closer examination of the data leads to different conclusions. In a recent report to Congress, the US Sentencing Commission based the population of federal drug offenders on the most serious crimes. classes are defined as follows:
Graphically [Figure 4] the difference is visible: less than half of the criminals (41.4%) are involved in the organization and/or management of the drug business: senior suppliers/importers, organizers/leaders, producers/producers, wholesalers, managers/supervisors. Most (56.7%) were low-level criminals—street dealers, brokers/trainers, couriers, and mules—who played relatively low-level roles in drug distribution.
International Crime Threat Assessment
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act directly addresses this distinction. Sections 102 and 103 provide reduced sentences for relatively low-level offenders, but do not apply to offenders who are importers, exporters, senior distributors or suppliers, wholesalers or manufacturers. The bill states that criminals cannot use violence or firearms or be part of an ongoing criminal enterprise, and that the crime must not result in death or serious bodily harm. This rule also excludes felons who have a history of serious drug use or serious violence against people under the age of 18, or who have a previous conviction for drug distribution.
The social and economic impact of incarceration on individuals, families, and communities is large and well documented. As the debate over criminal justice reform continues, lawmakers must ask themselves whether low-level drug offenders pose such a threat to public safety. In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, more than 57,000 criminals were sentenced to prison for federal crimes such as drug trafficking. That’s according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s recently released 2021 annual report and federal sentencing statistics sources.
The commission reported a decrease of 57,287 enforcement and 278 federal penalty cases involving Category “A” abuses compared to the previous fiscal year.
In the last fiscal year, 83.1 percent of such cases involved drug trafficking, immigration, firearms and fraud.
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Drug trafficking alone accounts for 31.3 percent, or one-third, of all federal crimes. These drug offenses are the most common type of federal crime that results in a conviction.
Among federal drug crimes, methamphetamine-related crimes are the most common in the federal system. According to the commission, 48 percent, or nearly half, of drug-related charges are related to drugs.
In fact, the number of cases involving methamphetamine as an illegal drug in the federal system has steadily increased. In fiscal year 2016, methamphetamine crimes accounted for 31 percent of all federal drug incidents. Since then, the share of meth crimes in federal drug sentences has increased by nearly 50 percent.
Also on the rise in drug crimes is fentanyl, which joined methamphetamine as the top five drugs in federal traffic in the most recent fiscal year. So the Sentencing Commission added it to the drug crimes section of the information guide.
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Methamphetamine trafficking is also one of the most severely punished federal drug crimes. Under federal law, those convicted of possession of more than 5 grams of methamphetamine face a mandatory minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 40 years in prison.
According to the commission, the average sentence for selling methamphetamine is 90 months, or 7.5 years. That’s four months more than the 86-month average for methamphetamine last fiscal year.
Other average sentences for federal drug offenses are 69 months for cocaine, 68 months for powder cocaine, 60 months for fentanyl and heroin, and 30 months for marijuana.
More than two-thirds, or 67.7 percent, of federal drug offenders were convicted of crimes with mandatory minimum sentences. This is a slight increase compared to the previous financial year.
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This accounted for 29.6 percent of all federal decisions. However, compared to the previous financial year, the number of such immigration cases has decreased by a third.
If you are a non-citizen but a legal immigrant to the United States and face deportation for a drug-trafficking offense, a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed you to avoid this serious hurdle.
After immigration cases, firearms and fraud were the most common federal crimes, with firearms accounting for 14.2 percent of all federal crimes prosecuted, followed by fraud, theft, and conspiracy, which accounted for 8 percent of all federal crimes.
Other federal crimes lag far behind these crimes, each accounting for less than 3 percent of total crime. These crimes include robbery, money laundering, sexual assault and child pornography.
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The report found that gun users are more likely to reoffend or continue to commit crimes after release.
Over eight years of monitoring, the commission found that 69 percent, or more than two-thirds, of gun users were rearrested for similar crimes. All other federal offenders reoffended less than half as often, with 45.1% reoffending.
The committee report also breaks down the number of federal courts in the federal system, including the Houston court that sits in the 5th Circuit.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston tried 7,508 felonies and 15 Class A felonies last fiscal year, for a total of 7,523 federal crimes.
Federal Drug Charges
If you or a family member is facing federal or state criminal charges, find the best criminal defense attorney in Houston.
You can begin your search by contacting Neal Davis LLP, an award-winning law firm serving clients in state and federal crimes in Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend counties.
Contact us today and we can arrange a private and confidential consultation for your case. You can then choose how to proceed to protect your legal rights.
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What Are Federal Drug Crimes?
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