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Robert A. Ciuffa, Attorney at Law
9306 Olive Boulevard
Saint Louis, MO 63132
Phone: 314-219-1906
Toll Free: 888-745-2635
Fax: 314-997-4324
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Drug Trafficking, Distribution, Sale, and Drug Manufacturing/Production

St. Louis Distribution, Sale, and Drug Manufacturing/Production Attorney

There are a myriad of these criminal charges in both the State and Federal courts. These broad categories of offenses are the central concentration of law enforcement efforts. Huge portions of governmental law enforcement budgets are directed toward these crimes financed in large part by Uncle Sam. The so-called "War on Drugs" is alive and well.

A renewed and invigorated effort has developed since 9/11, in large part as a spin-off of the "War on Terror". National security concerns have linked the drug trade to the funding of terrorist activities both here and abroad. The drug cartel wars in Mexico and American guilt for the demand for drugs have further fueled this law enforcement frenzy.

There is an entrenched bureaucratic belief that drug trade profits ultimately find their way to drug cartels and terror organizations. And the Mexican border violence has essentially made drug cartels and terror organizations synonymous. Consequently, trafficking, distribution, sale, and/or manufacturing controlled substances have become the mainstay prosecutions of concerted, combined state and federal law enforcement efforts.

Trafficking is often a drug crime with enhanced punishment based upon the possession of larger quantities of controlled substances supposedly packaged for sale or distribution. The ubiquitous "informant" often makes his (her) appearance here. Thus possessing five (5) or ten (10) individually packaged ounces of marijuana (i.e. weed, chronic, etc.), for example, can form the basis of a charge of Trafficking or Possession with Intent to Distribute, both felony charges with potential jail sentences of 15 (or more) years.

In the state system these charges can be "A" felonies with maximum sentences to thirty (30) years. The federal sentencing guidelines 'max' out sentences at life depending on what and how much was possessed, the presence of weapons, and the defendant's criminal history which can include misdemeanor non-drug offenses. Federal sentences are terms of incarceration that are actually served.

State court charges of Distribution, Sale, or Manufacturing (Cultivation) of controlled substances also threaten lengthy penitentiary sentences. Even the possession of a single marijuana plant places one within this offense.

While actual Federal drug sentences are essentially premised on the particular drug and the quantity involved as well as the defendant's criminal history, State court sentences aren't so easily reckoned. The reason for this is that the state court judge has broad discretion to adjust the sentence to the particular defendant... Each court calls on different talents and experience from defense counsel.

The following is a brief outline of some of the Missouri statutes covering many of the myriad of drug offenses. Some previously discussed.

Under section 195.420 Revised Statutes of Missouri having the ingredients for a controlled substance in one's possession brings about this charge of "creating a controlled substance". This is a "C" felony with a seven (7) year maximum sentence in the penitentiary. Section 195.400 provides a list of chemicals that cannot be sold without requiring proper identification; failing in this gets one charged with a "D" felony (4 year maximum). If you keep bad records you can get charged under this statutory scheme with a "C" felony (7 year maximum).

When we go to sections 195.222 and 195.223 we find the complex Trafficking statutes which include the offense of Possession with intent to Distribute. These statutes are complex and address various controlled substances based upon and undefined concept of evil. For example, if one distributes, manufactures, produces, or attempts to, 150 grams but less than 450 grams of powder cocaine then the crime is a conventional class "A" felony (30 year maximum). However, if the accused was involved with 2 grams but less than 6 grams of "crack" cocaine, then the accused is subjected to the same penalty. It has to be assumed that one substance is apparently worse than the other (?).

Trafficking in the Second Degree is defined in section 195.223 and follows the same complex and perplexing pattern of punishment based upon type of drug and the quantity involved. The logic behind this scheme is not explained. However, this offense grades most of the drugs "trafficked" down to class "B" felonies (15 year maximums). Interestingly, Heroin is the most harshly punished substance.

Clearly the complex network of drug statutes and the fact that state statutes follow the paradigm of federal law require that the accused have the assistance of an experienced lawyer.

Search and Seizure

In most instances drug charges are precipitated by a search and seizure. That is, the defendant's car, house, and/or person are searched to locate and seize the offending substance. Fortunately both the Missouri and United States Constitutions have strict prohibitions against "unreasonable searches and seizures" and generally require that such searches and seizures be preceded by a properly issued search warrant. More often than not the police search (and seize) without the benefit of a search warrant.

There are definite standards that must be met before such warrantless searches can pass constitutional muster and thus allow the evidence seized to be used against the defendant. A thorough understanding of the constitutions laws of search and seizure provide an accused with the prospect of walking away from these very serious charges short of jury trial. This challenge is usually advanced by defense counsel by the effective use of the "Motion to Suppress Evidence". Likewise, a defendant's statements to the police can be similarly and successfully challenged and excluded from evidence. If the drugs and/or statements are excluded as evidence the defendant avoids the consequences of these serious charges.

More problematic are those instances when the charges are developed from evidence provided by an informant (commonly referred to as a "snitch"). Law enforcement prefers to use informants especially the so-called "confidential informant" because the accused has a very hard time challenging the reliability and truthfulness of this secret witness. For that matter it is difficult to know for sure if such a witness even exists; it is not unheard of that the police have fabricated the existence of such a witness. Thankfully there are rules that must be adhered to before the so-called confidential informant can remain confidential and his information used in evidence against the accused. The prosecution, state or federal, has the burden of proving that the informant is reliable and should remain confidential.

An experienced, knowledgeable, and prepared defense lawyer is essential to a successful defense and protection of your rights. If you have problems in these areas, I would like to discuss this matter with you. Call me at you earliest.

Saint Louis attorney, Robert A. Ciuffa, represents people throughout the metropolitan St. Louis region, in communities such as: St. Francois County, Jefferson County, Lincoln County, Madison County, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, Ballwin, Bel-Nor, Bel-Ridge, Bella Villa, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Bellerive Acres, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Breckenridge Hills, Brentwood, Bridgeton, Calverton Park, Charlack, Chesterfield, Clayton, Cool Valley, Country Club Hills, Crestwood, Creve Coeur, Des Peres, Ellisville, Eureka, Fenton, Ferguson, Florissant, Frontenac, Glendale, Hazelwood, Kirkwood, Ladue, Manchester, Maplewood, Marlborough, Maryland Heights, Normandy, Olivette, Overland Park, Pacific, Pine Lawn, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, St. George, St. John, Shrewsbury, Sunset Hills, Town and Country, University City, Uplands Park, Valley Park, Velda Village, Vinita Park, Warson Woods, Woodson Terrace, the City of St. Charles, St. Peters, O'Fallon, Wentzville, Leadington, Park Hills, Hillsboro, and Byrnes Mill.