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Illinois federal criminal defense lawyerIf you have been charged with a federal drug crime, it is crucial to have a skilled Illinois criminal attorney on your side. If convicted of a federal drug crime, you may face serious penalties, such as prison time and heavy fines. A lawyer will help you build a strong defense and protect your legal rights.

When Drug Crimes Become Federal Offenses

Some drug crimes are charged at the state level while others are charged at the federal level. You will likely be charged federally if you commit a drug offense on federal property, such as a national park. You may also be charged federally if you are caught manufacturing or trafficking illegal drugs, especially across state lines.

Types of Federal Drug Crimes

Federal drug crimes come with penalties beyond prison time. If you get convicted of a federal drug crime, you will have a permanent criminal record, making it more difficult to get a job and place to live. Here are several types of federal drug crimes:

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Illinois federal crime defense lawyerMany crimes have the potential to be charged at either the state or federal level. Prosecutors must come to an agreement as to which entity has jurisdiction, or whether both entities have jurisdiction, before they can proceed with charging a crime. Kidnapping is one of the crimes that can be charged in both state and federal courts. Federal kidnapping charges can be extremely serious and can end up landing you in prison for many, many years. If you have been charged with kidnapping at any level, you need assistance from a skilled Illinois kidnapping defense attorney.

Understanding Federal Kidnapping Crimes

According to the United States Code, kidnapping occurs when a person seizes, confines, abducts, or takes and holds for ransom any person. For the act to be considered a federal crime, one or more of the following elements must also be true:

  • The kidnapper transported the victim across state or country lines.

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Illinois federal crime defense lawyerIn light of events that have taken place across the country in recent years, you may have heard of various hate crimes taking place against many different individuals. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there were more than 7,300 incidents of hate crime that took place across the country in 2019, the latest year for which the FBI has data. Hate crimes are often punished on the state level, but many people do not realize that they can be prosecuted on the federal level, as well. Various federal statutes have been put into place to help protect the rights of certain individuals.

Bias in Hate Crimes

According to the FBI, a crime is not a hate crime unless there is a bias that compelled a person to commit the crime. Hate crimes are usually traditional destructive or violent crimes, such as assault and battery or arson, that are committed toward a person specifically due to their real or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or disability.

FBI statistics show that the most common hate crimes occur in the U.S. toward individuals because of their race or religion. An overwhelming majority of more than 57 percent of hate crime incidents in 2019 were perpetrated against individuals because of their race, ethnicity, color, or origin. Most of those hate crimes—a little less than half—were motivated by anti-Black or African-American biases. The second-most reported bias for hate crimes is religion, specifically anti-Jewish or anti-Islamic biases.

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Illinois federal crime defense attorneyThere are various rights that all American citizens have been given by the U.S. Constitution. For example, we all have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom to peacefully assemble. One of the constitutional rights that comes into question in many criminal cases is your Fifth Amendment right against “double jeopardy,” or being tried for the same crime more than once. When you commit certain crimes, you may find that you face both state and federal charges for the same event. Many times, this is a result of committing a crime that takes place across state lines, but it can also be a result of various crimes that violate both state and federal laws. Though it may seem unfair, you can indeed face both state and federal charges for the same crime.

Understanding “Double Jeopardy”

To explain the legality of charging a crime on both the state and federal levels, you must first understand the two most important concepts that are involved: double jeopardy and dual sovereignty. Many people believe that being charged both by the state and the federal government is a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights. The Fifth Amendment states that, “No person shall...be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” This means that once a person is subject to certain charges, they cannot be subject to charges arising from the same incident again.

The Concept of “Dual Sovereignty”

Dual sovereignty is one of the exceptions to the double jeopardy rule. The concept of dual sovereignty is simply the idea that it is still constitutionally legal for both the state government and the federal government to press charges for the same instance of crime. The basis of this argument is that the levels of government are two different entities and therefore have the right to charge the defendant for the same crime. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on this previously and has stated that facing both state and federal charges for a single crime is legal as long as the course of action during the crime violated both state and federal laws.

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Illinois federal criminal defense lawyerThe United States has a long and complicated history with drugs. In the 1800s, many drugs that are illegal today were available to most individuals who wanted them. Cocaine, heroin, opium, and cannabis were widely sold and were sometimes even marketed as health remedies. By the late 1800s, several states began to pass laws banning the sale and use of cocaine and opium, and by the early 1900s, the first federal law relating to drug use and possession was passed, highly regulating the legal narcotic industry and creating law enforcement that today is known as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In today’s world, the DEA is best known for enforcing federal drug laws and prosecuting those who sell or traffic drugs across state lines, along with other federal drug offenses.

Sentencing Guidelines for Federal Drug Crimes

Many federal drug crimes have minimum sentences that are required to be imposed if the person is convicted. These guidelines were put into place during the 1980s when the Reagan administration declared the “War on Drugs,” but many studies have shown that these minimum sentences do not actually reduce the amount of drug crime or the rate of recidivism of those who have been convicted. Nevertheless, these minimum sentences still exist today. If you are convicted of federal drug manufacturing or trafficking, you could face the following consequences:

Minimum Five-Year Sentence With a Maximum 40-Year Sentence For Trafficking:

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