The crimes of robbery and burglary both involve taking someone else's property without permission. However, robbery refers to taking another person's property directly from them by using force or threats, while burglary refers to breaking into an establishment to steal property or goods.
Both are serious crimes that can result in harsh penalties if convicted, but in many cases, robbery and burglary crimes are prosecuted at the state level. Regardless, the crimes can fall under federal jurisdiction in some cases, and the U.S. government lists several instances where it can prosecute robbery and burglary crimes. One such instance is robberies and burglaries of controlled substances.
If you were arrested or are under investigation by the FBI, the DEA, or any other federal authority for robberies and burglaries involving controlled substances, you should consult an experienced federal criminal defense attorney immediately to understand your rights and options and to get help developing a strong defense against the charges.
Federal Drug Laws: The Basics
The federal government has numerous statutes that deal with illicit drugs and controlled substances. Controlled substances include illegal narcotics as well as legal drugs federally regulated as far as manufacturing, distributing, and possessing.
The government classifies controlled substances into five categories, or schedules, based on their potential for abuse or dependence and their lack of approved medical use. The schedules are:
- Schedule I – These have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse or dependence. They include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and marijuana.
- Schedule II – Have some accepted medical use, but with severe restrictions and a high potential for abuse. They include cocaine, methamphetamine, and PCP, as well as Ritalin and Adderall.
- Schedule III – Have accepted medical uses but can also cause physical or psychological dependence. They include testosterone, anabolic steroids, and Tylenol with codeine.
- Schedule IV – Have accepted medical uses and a low potential for abuse or dependence. They include Valium, Ativan, Ambien, Xanax, and Tramadol.
- Schedule V – Have the lowest potential for abuse or dependence and includes drugs like Lyrica, Robitussin AC, and Lomotil.
Controlled substances also include GHB (the “date rape” drug) and flunitrazepam (“roofies”), along with cocoa leaves, crude opium, poppy straw, and other chemicals and compounds that can be used to manufacture illegal narcotics.
Incidentally, although many states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, the drug remains illegal at the federal level. You can still face serious drug charges involving marijuana, and courts may or may not make a distinction between marijuana and other Schedule 1 narcotics, like heroin, that is considered far more dangerous and destructive.
Federal Laws and Penalties for Robbery or Burglary of Controlled Substances
Section 2118 of Chapter 103 of the U.S. Code defines federal laws regarding robbery or burglary of controlled substances as follows:
Robbery – Prohibits anyone from taking by force, intimidation, or violence any quantity of a controlled substance from any registered agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Burglary – Refers to unlawfully entering, or attempting to enter, any business or establishment registered with the DEA to steal any controlled substances or restricted chemicals or compounds.
In either case, you can receive up to 20 years in federal prison and substantial fines if any of the following apply:
- The value of the drugs exceeded $500.
- You crossed state or international boundaries during the crime.
- You seriously injured or killed someone during the crime.
You could receive 25 years in prison if you used a dangerous weapon to threaten or harm someone during the crime, and you could receive life in prison if you killed anyone during the crime.
If you work with one or more people to plan the crime and take overt action toward it, you can face charges of conspiracy. The crime carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and fines.
Additionally, you can also face other federal drug charges depending on the types of drugs you stole and their amounts. For instance, prosecutors may charge you with drug trafficking or possession as well. Crimes involving possession of Schedule I and II drugs have sentences that range from five to 40 years, and drug trafficking carries sentences from 10 years to life. Crimes involving possession of Schedule III, IV, and V drugs carry penalties ranging from one to five years in prison.
You can also face RICO charges and other serious federal charges if you were part of an organized criminal enterprise or committed the crime to further a criminal enterprise.
Defenses for Possession by Restricted Persons
Considering the potential impact on your future, you want to analyze all your defense options, and you need to consult an attorney to help you develop the strongest strategy. After reviewing your case, your attorney may discover effective defense options that can include:
- The drugs in question were not controlled substances.
- The robbery or burglary did not fall under federal jurisdiction.
- You were falsely accused or entrapped by law enforcement.
- Someone forced you to commit the crime.
- The evidence does not undoubtedly support you were involved at all.
Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you may have other defense options available, and an astute federal defense attorney can challenge the evidence to create doubt in the jury's mind and help you avoid conviction.
Get The Help You Need From an Experienced Federal Defense Attorney
For help developing the most effective defense possible, you need to contact an attorney with extensive knowledge of federal drug laws and experience defending clients in the New Jersey District Court.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended many clients facing charges for robberies and burglaries of controlled substances and other federal offenses. He can evaluate your case, advise you of your options, and fight hard to help you protect your future.
Call the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team at 888-535-3686 or fill out our contact form to request a confidential consultation.