You are guilty of drug smuggling under federal law if you transport illegal drugs across state lines or into the United States from another country. The offense is a serious crime and a conviction can result in a federal prison term of significant years. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you are facing any type of charges related to a drug offense.
What is the Federal Law on Drug Smuggling?
21 USC 967 is the federal statute that sets forth the crime of drug smuggling. Per this law, you are guilty of drug smuggling if you transport an illegal controlled substance either:
- Across state lines, or
- Into the U.S. from another country.
The crime is sometimes referred to as “drug importation.” While the offense can technically involve any type of illegal drug, it often involves:
- Heroin, and
Note that drug trafficking is a separate and distinct crime from drug smuggling. You are generally guilty of drug trafficking if you manufacture, dispense, or distribute a controlled substance.
What are the Penalties?
A drug smuggling conviction will result in fines and mandatory federal prison time under the federal sentencing guidelines. The length of the prison term will vary depending on the type of drug involved and the quantity of drugs that were smuggled. Usually, penalties will grow more severe as the seriousness and the amount of drugs increases.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Yes. People charged with drug smuggling can contest the charge with a legal defense. Common defenses include your criminal defense attorney showing that you:
- Weren’t aware that you had drugs in your possession,
- Didn’t realize that the drugs you had were illegal, and/or
- Were the victim of mistaken identity.
You can also try to challenge a charge by showing that the police somehow violated one of your constitutional rights. Maybe, for example, the authorities:
- Arrested you without probable cause,
- Coerced a confession, or
- Conducted an unlawful search and seizure.
If any of the above, then a judge could likely reduce your charge or dismiss it altogether.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a drug smuggling charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced federal crime attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various federal charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!