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Federal Drug Minimum Mandatory Sentences

Possessing, selling or manufacturing controlled substances is illegal under both the state and federal jurisdictions. The crimes have serious penalties on both state and federal level, but if you’re federally charged with certain drug crimes there’s a high likelihood you’ll be given a mandatory minimum incarceration sentence. You will not be able to have your sentence suspended or deferred and instead will be required to spend time in a federal jail or prison. 

A federal drug charge has the potential to uproot your whole life. The potential penalties associated with these crimes are incredibly harsh, including expensive fines in the thousands as well as time behind bars. In addition, many people who have been convicted with a federal drug crime have issues obtaining employment, credit, or housing after they’ve completed their sentence.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a federal drug crime, it’s important you have retained legal representation you can trust as soon as possible.

Drug Defense Attorney Explains Federal Mandatory Minimums in Pensacola, FL

You should always take drug charges seriously, but at the federal level you need to be proactive about your defense as soon as possible. Contact Terrezza Law for experienced and quality legal representation for your federal drug charges. John Terrezza has a thorough understanding of the United States Code and can defend clients in the federal court.

Get in touch with him today at (850) 764-5291 to set up your first consultation free. He will look over your case and begin to structure a sturdy defense for you. Terrezza Law has clients throughout the greater Escambia County and Santa Rosa County areas such as Milton, Gulf Breeze, Pensacola Beach and Pensacola in Florida.

Overview of Federal Drug Charges in FL

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Federal U.S. Drug Schedules

The penalties for federal-level drug crimes are determined by what U.S. Drug Schedule they are classified under. These Drug Schedules are categorized by the controlled substance’s risk of addiction as well as it’s prevalent use in medicine. Listed below are the different drug schedules used for sentencing established under the U.S. Code.

Drug Schedule




Schedule I

Drugs that have a very high risk of abuse and addiction. They currently no accepted medical use.

Some examples include heroin, methaqualone, marijuana, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and peyote.


Schedule II

A schedule II drug has a high potential for abuse and can lead to a physical dependence. Additionally, they have little to use in medicine.


Schedule II drugs can include Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamines and oxycodone.


Schedule III

Schedule III drugs have a mid-level potential for abuse and dependence.

They can include less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (essentially Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, and testosterone.


Schedule IV

Drugs with a moderate or low potential for chemical dependency are under schedule III. They are sometimes used in medicine, especially regarding anxiety disorders.



Some drugs under this group include Ambien, Tramadol and Xanax.


Schedule V

These controlled substances have a lower potential for abuse and are often used in the medical field.

Examples include cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Motogen and Lyrica.

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Federal Drug Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Possession

Possessing a controlled substance without authorization is illegal on both the state and federal level. Under 21 USC § 844 it states that a person is guilty of possession if they do any of the following actions without proper legal authority. 

The penalties for simple possession are a term of imprisonment of no more than one year as well as a minimum fine of $1,000.

For possession, you won’t be required to serve a mandatory minimum sentence, unless you have a prior drug conviction from federal or another state jurisdiction, then you’ll be sentenced to no less than 15 days of incarceration with a maximum of up to two years. Additionally, you will be charged a minimum fine by the court of $2,500. 

Two prior convictions will mean a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days and a maximum of up to three years in prison. You will also be fined a minimum of $5,000. If you have a prior drug possession conviction, you will not be able to have your sentence deferred or suspended.

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Federal Minimum Mandatory Penalties for Selling or Manufacturing Drugs

Under federal and state jurisdiction it’s unlawful to sell or manufacture drugs. The penalties for these crimes are incredibly harsh and can include a mandatory minimum prison sentence. This means that you won’t be able to defer or suspend your sentence. You will be required to serve at least the minimum sentence before you can be released.

Under 21 USC § 841 it’s unlawful to do any of the following and more:

The minimum mandatory prison sentence for any of the above crimes is 10 years in prison. The prison sentence minimum will be enhanced to a mandatory 20 years if death or serious bodily injury occurred because of the crime. In addition, you will be fined enormously. You could face a fine of up to $10,000,000 if you’re an individual or a fine capped at $50,000,000 if you’re an entity or corporation of sorts. 

Having a previous serious drug felony or violent felony conviction on your record will lead to enhanced penalties. Your mandatory minimum prison sentence will be upped to 15 years and if death or seriously injury was present during your current charge, then you may be sentenced to life imprisonment 

If you have two or more serious drug or violent felony convictions on your record, then your mandatory minimum sentence will be enhanced to 25 years. In either scenario, you may pay a fine up to $20,000,000. If the court considers you anything other than an individual, then the cap for the fine is $75,000,000. 

The charges below are typically not eligible for any type of supervised release or probation. These include: 

A conviction for any of the above crimes carries no less than 5 years in prison with a maximum of 40 years. If serious bodily injury or death occurs because of the crime, then the minimum mandatory prison sentence will be enhanced to 20 years with a maximum of life in prison. Not to mention you  be fined as much as $5,000,000 as an individual or $25,000,000 if you’re classified by the court as anything other than an individual.

Your mandatory minimum will be elevated to 10 years if the court finds you have one prior conviction for a serious drug felony or violent felony. If you had a qualifying prior and your current drug charge involved death or serious injury, then you face life imprisonment. A fine can be issued to you with a cap of $8,000,000 if you’re an individual or $50,00,000 if you’re seen as an entity, corporation or anything other than an individual. 

A mandatory minimum prison sentence isn’t the only consequence after a drug conviction. The judge will also impose a supervised release term of at least 4 years for committing any of the crimes above. If you had a prior conviction before the charges, then your supervised release term will be at the least 8 years.

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Additional Resources

Federal Laws for Drug Crimes- Visit the official website for the United States Code and learn more about the mandatory minimum sentences for serious drug crimes. Access the site to read up on other drug crime such as internet sale of drugs, criminal conspiracy and transportation of a controlled substance illegally. 

Drug Schedules – Visit the official website for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to learn more about drug scheduling. Access the site to learn more about drug schedules, types of drugs under those schedules, and other important drug information.

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Federal Lawyer for Serious Drug Crimes in Pensacola, Florida

If you or someone you know has been charged with a high-level felony federal drug crime, then it’s important you find legal representation that is certified in federal and state law. Our suggestion is you get in contact with John Terrezza at firm] for an effective and efficient defense to your charges. He can utilize his years of experience for your case.

With such serious penalties, it’s important you have legal counsel as soon as possible after being arrested for a federal drug crime. Call Terrezza Law now at (850) 764-5291 to set up your first consultation free of charge. Terrezza Law has clients throughout the greater Santa Rosa and Escambia County area including Milton, Pensacola, Gulf Breeze and Navarre.