Heien v. North Carolina: can a mistake of law justify a stop?

Heien v. North Carolina mistake of law

This term, the U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments on October 6, 2014. Thier first case, Heien v North Carolina, presents a pretty interesting criminal law issue: can a police officer’s reasonable, but mistaken understanding of the law be a valid basis for detaining a citizen? [Read more…]

Reduced federal drug sentences may be applied retroactively

DOJ supports retroactivity for reduce drug sentencing guidelinesAs a federal drug trafficking defense attorney, I see the damage caused by harsh drug sentencing guidelines. Reductions in those guidelines have been approved and are set to take effect this fall. In Maine, federal courts are already using the reduced drug distribution guidelines. But will these reduced federal drug sentences be applied retroactively? The U.S. Sentencing Commission held a hearing Tuesday, June 10, 2014 to consider that very issue. At the hearing, the U.S. Department of Justice came out in support of some limited retroactivity.

[Read more…]

Maine Drug Trafficking Law: Manufacturing Methamphetamine

Manufacturing drugs like methamphetamine is drug trafficking in MaineA Maine drug trafficking attorney must sometimes deal with the most fundamental question: is this actually drug trafficking? In cases where the defendant is charged with manufacturing methamphetamine or synthesizing other drugs, this can be the key issue.

Until recently, Maine drug trafficking law allowed a conviction if the defendant started a process which could lead to production of a scheduled drug. Now, Maine’s Supreme Court has held that trafficking by manufacturing requires proof the end product was produced.
[Read more…]

Federal Drug Trafficking: Minimum Sentence Reductions Proposed

Federal Drug Trafficking SentencingThe so called “Smarter Sentencing Act of 2013” was voted through the Senate Judiciary Committee on 1/30/14. You can read the text of the bill here. If it becomes law, the act will make some important changes to Federal Drug Trafficking sentencing by:

Aggravated Drug Trafficking: Maine Law and Mandatory Minimum Sentences

drug trafficking charges in state or federal courtI have written before about how Maine laws define drug trafficking. When that trafficking involves a large amount of drugs, or some other aggravating factor, the crime is elevated to “Aggravated Trafficking in Scheduled Drugs.” That charge forces the judge to impose a mandatory minimum prison sentence but also increases the maximum sentence for the crime. This article discusses how the law works, the sentences involved and the facts the prosecution can allege to enhance drug trafficking to the aggravated crime. There is also a bit of information about Federal drug trafficking charges. Use the links below to navigate to a particular section of the article: [Read more…]

Drug Trafficking Charges in Maine: What is Trafficking?

You might be surprised to learn that in Maine, many Drug Trafficking cases are charged where no one was actually caught selling drugs. One common scenario is that police search a person or vehicle, often after using drug dogs to get probable cause, they then find drugs that they believe were intended for trafficking. The case is then submitted to the Prosecutor and, in York, Cumberland, Androscoggin, and most other Southern Maine Counties, these cases will be approved for Felony Drug Trafficking Charges. Click this link for information about Drug Possession Charges.