Investigating Federal Drug Charges in Alameda County
Being convicted of a federal drug charge can result in severe penalties that could impact the rest of your life. Investigation of drug charges in Alameda County must meet certain standards in order to legally prosecute a suspected criminal in federal court. Jurisdiction may be proper in federal court if any of the following exist:
- The crime is a federal offense (like counterfeiting, mail fraud, money laundering, bank robbery, drug trafficking)
- The crime occurred across state lines or the accused crossed state lines
- The crime involves fraud on the federal government
- The crime takes place on federal land or involves a federal agent
- The crime relates to an immigration violation
If you suspect you are being investigated for a federal drug offense, seek legal representation immediately. A seasoned defense attorney could determine if federal jurisdiction is proper, if the evidence against you is convincing, and if the methods used by law enforcement were constitutional.
How are federal drug cases typically investigated?
Federal drug cases are investigated by the DEA while local state agencies and police departments investigate state offenses. The DEA may conduct a lengthy investigation that includes doing undercover work, such as wiretapping and surveillance. They may then get a search warrant or an arrest warrant for the suspect based on the material that the investigation was able to yield.
The FBI might be involved as well. In some cases, local government might assist in a drug investigation if the federal government asks for them to get involved or a task force is formed.
Mistakes to Avoid During an Investigation
Federal charges can sometimes come as a surprise when a person is unaware that they are being surveilled, tapped, or otherwise investigated by undercover agents. However, people who are aware that they are under investigation for a federal drug crime or have been contacted by law enforcement should avoid talking to or agreeing to speak with law enforcement without an Alameda County attorney present.
Speaking with law enforcement, even if detained, can prove detrimental to a case without guidance from an experienced lawyer. People who suspect they are being investigated for a drug crime should seek legal representation right away.
Constitutional Issues During Federal Drug Investigations
An attorney sworn to handle federal cases in Northern or Eastern District can handle federal drug charges in Northern California. Handling a federal drug charge would consist of review of discovery, litigation of any constitutional violations and pretrial motions such as motions to suppress for violations of the Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights. These motions allow a federal lawyer to argue that a warrant was invalid, unlawfully executed, or a warrantless search was unreasonable and unlawful. If the motion is successful it is possible that incriminating evidence can be suppressed.
At the Federal level, people accused of crimes have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. This means that they cannot be compelled to be a witness against themselves or forced to say anything that could potentially get them in trouble. Essentially, there is a right to remain silent and coerced statements in violation of those rights can be excluded.
Under the Sixth Amendment, people accused of crimes have the right to a speedy trial and the right to an attorney. An experienced federal lawyer will be able to explain the speedy trial rights available in your case and help you strategize whether a waiver of those rights is proper.
What Types of Evidence are Investigated in a Federal Drug Case?
The evidence federal law enforcement is searching for varies widely. In addition to the common paraphernalia and substances searched for in state drug cases, a federal case would also investigate evidence of a greater plan or scheme.
Federal drug cases often involve more sophisticated and expansive operations. Law enforcement will work to obtain recorded phone calls and other evidence of a conspiracy or intention to distribute, as well as the actual physical drugs.
Additionally, these investigations may result in the discovery of large quantities of ammunition or guns in the suspects possession or control. Any indicia of drug sales, drug trafficking, or other conspiracy to commit a drug crime can be presented as evidence in a federal drug case.
Learn More About Federal Drug Investigations from an Alameda County Attorney Licensed to Practice in Northern or Eastern District
If you are being investigated for a federal drug charge in the Northern or Eastern District of California, do not hesitate to seek legal representation. A skilled defense attorney could review the steps taken by the prosecution to determine if any actions were unconstitutional or if evidence is inadmissible. A lawyer could then advocate to reduce the charges or have them dismissed entirely. To learn more about what options could be available to you, call today and schedule a free consultation.