The People’s Lawyer

Can I get probation for a federal drug charge?

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Drug charges are serious business, especially when the charges are federal. You may find yourself facing federal drug charges and not knowing what to expect and if the potential penalties are different from the penalties for state charges.

Most importantly, you might be wondering if you are going to prison. This is what most people worry about when facing drug or any other type of criminal charges.

Examining what led you to this situation

You may have started out trying a few drugs here and there, with no intent to get involved in the drug business by distributing or trafficking the drugs. But as many people find out, once you are involved with drugs, it is very hard to get out of the drug scene.

Your situation might have gotten out of hand to the point where you were doing things you thought you would never do. You may end up using or distributing different types or higher quantities of certain drugs or traveling across state lines with drugs, both of which can bump your charges up from state to federal charges.

Let’s get to the bad news. Most federal drug convictions come with mandatory minimum prison sentences.

Drug schedules and mandatory minimums

Under federal law, drugs are classified according to five different schedules, with the more serious drugs receiving a lower schedule number. Most potential penalties involve incarceration.

Even a first-offense comes with a potential jail or prison sentence of up to 1 year.

The role of your past criminal history

While it is not impossible to receive probation for a federal drug charge, it is extremely difficult. Probation is usually only a possibility if you are facing a very low-level offense and have no criminal history.

Therefore, your best chance at having a judge consider probation for a federal drug charge is if you have no criminal history. However, even if you have a prior criminal conviction on your record, it does not automatically disqualify you.

If you have a minor criminal conviction from many years ago, you can still try arguing that probation is the most appropriate sentence in your case, after taking all the facts and circumstances into consideration.

What about reducing the length of incarceration?

The reality of your situation may still be such that you cannot escape a mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Unlike state prison, it is hard to get out of federal prison on parole before serving your full sentence, but you can try arguing that the length of your prison sentence should be reduced.

The sentencing phase

The time to do this is during the sentencing phase of the criminal process. After you are convicted, your case will be scheduled for sentencing.

Your sentencing date provides you with a chance to argue that you should receive less time than the charge you are convicted of commonly gets. If the length of the prison sentence is mandatory, you could argue for other options to straight prison time, such as intermittent prison time.

As you can see, receiving only probation for a federal drug charge can be quite challenging. It is important to have someone knowledgeable and experienced fighting on your side.