Law is not black or white, it's grey



Federal drug trafficking lawyer, conspiracy 

New laws for federal drug trafficking charges

Arguments can be made NOW for defendants facing drug trafficking charges - even though the laws are not yet in effect.

Half of the people in the Bureau of Prisons are there because of drug charges.   

Some new federal laws, if passed, that may reduce an inmates or defendant's sentence:

Two level reduction for drug trafficking

The one everybody is talking about in the federal system is the New Proposed 2 level reduction for drug trafficking.

This "all drugs minus two" amendment reduces the base offense level for drug trafficking charges.  This 2 level reduction is under the federal sentencing guidelines, Drug Quantity Table in §2D1.1. 

If Congress does not act, this law will go into effect November 1, 2014.  The general consensus is the law will pass.  The issue is whether it will be retroactive.  If it is found to be retroactive, there will be thousands of people who could get reduced sentences.  In some cases, they will be released immediately.

About 50,000 cases nationwide will be eligible for review for a 2 level reduction. 1,497 cases in the Middle District of Florida alone. Statistically, of the 1,497 cases, about 150 offenders would walk right out. 

Idealists would say the guidelines should have been lower from the start.

Economists would say we spend too much money locking people up for drug offenses. It costs at least $30k per year to lock somebody up.

The Holder memo on all drugs minus two

In an August 29, 2014 memo, US attorney general Eric Holder told prosecutors (AUSAs) generally (there are certain exceptions) to not oppose a 2 level reduction in a drug trafficking case IF the defendant has not yet been sentenced.  Even the government seems to think this amendment will be law. 

Smarter Sentencing Act - potentially lower drug sentences

It is not law yet, but it has bipartisan support.  It would:

  • “clarify” that the FSA mandatory minimums are retroactive 

  • reduce mandatory minimum sentences.  From 10 to 5 and from 5 to 2 years, depending on the statute.

  • reduce mandatory minimum sentences for one “prior conviction for a felony drug offense” under 841(b)(1)(A) from 20 to 10 years , and for any number of 851s under (b)(1)(B) from 10 to 5 years

  • expand safety valve to include defendants with 2 criminal history points, but if 2, can have no prior conviction for:

    • offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another

    • firearm offense under section 922 or 924;

    • sex offense as defined in SORNA

    • Federal crime of terrorism as defined in section 2332b(g)(5)

    • racketeering offense under 18 USC 1962

    • conspiring to use and invest illicit drug profits under 21 USC 854

  • Direct the Commission to amend the drug and safety valve guidelines consistent with the Act 

Justice Safety Valve Act

It is not law yet.  However, generally, the justice safety valve act allows a judge to sentence a defendant below the statutory minimum mandatory sentence is court finds that it is necessary to do so in order to avoid violating the requirements of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). 

§ 851 Enhancements for prior felony drug offense

An 851 enhancement is leverage by the government.  Make no mistake about it.  AUSAs threaten to file enhancements to force people to plead guilty.  So what is an 851 enhancement and how does it work?

When an AUSA files a § 851 enhancement based on a “prior conviction for a felony drug offense” the 

Minimum mandatory doubles from five to 10 years, or ten to twenty years, depending on which subsection the defendant is charged under.  5 to 10 under 841(b)(1)(B), or 10 to 20 under 841(b)(1)(A).

Increases to mandatory life if two 851s under 841(b)(1)(A), or if any number of 851s and death or serious bodily injury results under 841(b)(1)(A)-(C).

It applies to remote and minor drug offenses that do not constitute felonies under state law, but would not constitute felonies under federal law. 

What is a prior conviction for a “Felony Drug Offense” under 851?

There is no limit on remoteness.  The convictions can be as old as the AUSA wants.  A prior conviction for a felony drug offense includes:

  • Simple possession

  • Misdemeanors in states where misdemeanors are punishable by more than one year

  • Diversionary dispositions where the defendant is not convicted in state court

  • Offenses punished with no imprisonment

  • Offenses that are not career offender predicates

  • Offenses that resulted in no criminal history points 

A great deal of federal criminal cases deal with importing, distributing, selling and trafficking in drugs.  This includes pills, cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana. The old sentencing guidelines were one hundred times more severe for crack than powder cocaine. Some recent changes in the sentencing guidelines provide some relief.
Minimum mandatory sentences are not affected by this change. Career or very violent offenders, as determined by criminal history and the nature of offenses committed, are not eligible for sentence reductions due to the new guidelines.


In Kimbrough v. U.S., the Court held that federal sentencing guidelines for cocaine violations are advisory, not mandatory as a lower court had ruled. The 7-2 decision, in an opinion by Justice Ginsburg, says that judges must consider the guidelines, but may deviate downward if they conclude that the sentence would be too harsh in light of the disparity between punishment for crack cocaine and cocaine in powder form.

In Gall v. U.S., the Court held that courts of appeal must review all sentences, “whether inside, just outside, or significantly outside” the sentencing guidelines range, under a deferential abuse-of-discretion standard. Under the 7-2 decision, written by Justice Stevens, judges may now impose below-guidelines sentences.

Marijuana Grow House Trafficking

Another common drug charge in Federal Court involves marijuana – whether it be marijuana trafficking, international marijuana importation, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, sale of marijuana, maintaining a marijuana grow house, cultivation of marijuana and conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana.

Mere marijuana possession of a small amount of marijuana is rarely charged in federal court. Most of those cases end up in state court. One exception is if it happened on federal land, like a national park.

Typically, for a grow house case, the federal government won’t charge a defendant unless  they have at least one hundred marijuana plants. This number could be the total amount if there are multiple grow houses. For instance, I’ve represented people charged federally with growing marijuana in different locations. The feds add up the total number of plants to see if they get past 100 plants.

I filed a motion to suppress in a federal drug case involving two separate grow houses for marijuana in South Florida. My client was facing up to 160 years in prison. Federal agents and police entered into a house just after midnight without a search warrant. The issue was whether consent was freely and voluntarily given by a Spanish speaking couple who did not understand English.

The client was initially charged by indictment with:

  • Conspiracy to maintain a place to manufacture or distribute marijuana, facing 20 years, $500,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

  • Maintaining a place to manufacture or distribute marijuana, facing 20 years, $500,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

  • Conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and dispense 100 or more marijuana plants, 5 year minimum mandatory prison sentence, 40 year maximum, $2,000,000 fine, 5 years supervised release.

  • Possession with intent to manufacture, distribute, and dispense 100 or more marijuana plants, 5 year minimum mandatory prison sentence, 40 year maximum, $2,000,000 fine, 5 years supervised release.

After the motion to suppress was heard, I negotiated a plea deal for the Federal government to drop all counts in the indictment (maximum of 160 years in prison & $5,000,000 in fines). In exchange, my client pled guilty to one count of misdemeanor possession of marijuana with no jail time.

The Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act classifies drugs into five categories, listed in schedules, the Act also establishes regulations and penalties for the misuse of drugs listed on each schedule. Schedule I and II drugs, including heroin, LSD, mescaline, marijuana, peyote, opium, cocaine, methadone, amphetamines, and meth-amphetamines, are the most severely restricted and penalized drugs.

Defenses your federal criminal defense lawyer can use to get your drug case dropped

Your best defense in a federal drug case starts with hiring a board certified criminal trial lawyer who can spot the issues, raise them and fight for them. At trial, your lawyer may successfully argue the drugs were not yours, you didn’t know the drugs were there and/or the drugs were not under your control.

Other than the jury finding you not guilty after trial, often the best defense you may have against drug charges is whether federal agents and/or police violated your constitutional rights. As a general rule, police or federal agents may not enter your house or hotel room without a search warrant. Also, generally, if you are pulled over for an infraction, like speeding, the police may not search your vehicle. If the government violates your fourth amendment rights, the drugs in your case may be suppressed, or thrown out of court. If they are thrown out, typically the government has no case against you and they will drop the charges.

Drug Treatment

Drug treatment is a better resolution for the client and the government because it gets you the help you need. This lessens the chance you will re-offend. However, in federal court, the reality is if you are convicted, you will most likely go to prison. However, drug treatment is available in many federal prisons under the RDAP program, which can reduce the time you serve in prison. 


Asset forfeiture is when the government takes all your stuff. This includes a seizure of money or property used to fund criminal activity. Typically assets are forfeited in cases of illegal drug trafficking. The Feds can potentially seize your house, car, boat, stock, bank accounts and just about anything else you can think of. Two types of forfeiture cases can be brought, criminal and civil. Two statutes apply to both civil and criminal asset forfeiture proceedings, 18 U.S.C. 982 and 21 U.S.C. 881.

Under federal law, no criminal charges or convictions are required in civil forfeiture proceedings. In civil forfeiture proceedings, the federal government brings suit against the property in question, with the property owners as third parties. In these proceedings the burden of proof is on the property owners to prove that their property was not used in criminal activity by a preponderance of the evidence (a level of proof that persuades a judge or jury that, given the evidence, the owner has proved more likely than not that their property was not used for criminal activity).

The National Assets Seizure and Forfeiture Fund was established by the Department of Justice established in 1985 and realized $27 million from drug-related forfeitures that year. Many states have since created their own civil forfeiture programs.

Cocaine and Marijuana Wins

TRAFFICKING IN COCAINE AND MARIJUANA - Conviction & 20 year sentence Reversed based on my special requested jury instruction.

On appeal, the client claimed that the trial court erred in refusing to give the special jury instruction written by me, his trial lawyer. The instruction more accurately stated the law to be applied in his constructive possession of cocaine case.

At trial, I requested a special jury instruction on constructive possession where the contraband (cocaine and marijuana) is found on jointly possessed premises. The trial court denied the request and read the jury the standard jury instruction on possession.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal (the appellate court) determined that in cases of joint possession of the premises, the standard jury instruction is confusing. The instruction discusses joint possession of the article but does not discuss joint possession of the premises upon which the article is found. Further, the appellate court stated that The standard jury instruction does not explain what must be proved where possession of the premises is in joint rather than exclusive possession of the defendant. The specially-requested instruction, unlike the standard instruction, instructs the jury that the elements of knowledge and ability to control may not be inferred from the mere fact of joint possession of premises where contraband is found, but must be established by independent proof. Therefore, in this case [Grey Tesh's requested] special jury instruction was necessary in order to present [his] theory of defense. (Emphasis added).

My client’s conviction and sentence were reversed as a result of the appellate courts’ determination. Also, as a result of my efforts on his behalf, in creating a special instruction, the appellate court recommended that the standard jury instruction be modified to include my special instruction. They said “We also recommend to the Criminal Standard Jury Instruction Committee that it review the standard instruction for modification in cases where an issue at trial involves the joint possession of the premises on which contraband is found.”

I represent clients charged with serious federal drug crimes like trafficking in cocaine, crack cocaine, possession with intent to sell and distribute marijuana, heroin, meth, LSD and other drug offenses before federal criminal courts in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Pierce, Ft. Pierce, Stuart, Martin County, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Tallahassee, and all federal courts throughout the United States of America. I don’t mind traveling to help you with your federal cocaine or federal marijuana case.



“Law is not black and white, it's Grey”

Federal drug lawyer Grey Tesh is a federal criminal attorney who handles federal drug trafficking, importation, conspiracy to import, distriubute, possess with intent to distribute drug charges in federal courts all across Florida.  Grey can represent people charged with federal drug crimes all across the United States pro hac vice. (Fancy latin words meaning "for this case").  A trial lawyer based out of West Palm Beach, Grey has satellite offices in Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Estero, Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida.




Abogado Federal de cargos de drogas

Una gran parte de los casos criminales federales tienen que ver con la importación, distribución, venta y tráfico de drogas. Esto incluye pastillas, cocaína, cocaina-crack y marijuana. Las guias de sentencias anteriores eran cien veces más graves para la cocaína-crack, que la cocaína en polvo. Algunos cambios recientes en las guias de sentencia proporcionan algo de alivio.

Las sentencias mínimas obligatorias no se ven afectados por este cambio. Los delincuentes reincidentes, delincuentes violentos, según lo determinado por los antecedentes penales y la naturaleza de los delitos cometidos, no son elegibles para reducciones de condena, debido a las nuevas guias de sentencias.


En el caso de Kimbrough v. U.S., la Corte sostuvo que las guias de sentencias sobre los cargos de cocaína son de carácter consultivo, y no obligatorio, como el tribunal inferior había dictaminado. La decisión 7-2, en un dictamen del juez Ginsburg, dice que los jueces deben tener en cuenta las guias de sentencias, pero pueden desviarse y hacia abajo si llegan a la conclusión de que la sentencia sería demasiado dura, dando la disparidad entre el castigo por un cargo de crack y cocaína en polvo .

En el caso de Gall v. U.S., la Corte sostuvo que los tribunales de apelación deben revisar todas las condenas, "ya sea en el interior, en las afueras, o significativamente fuera de" las guias de sentencias, bajo una norma deferente sobre el abuso-de-la discreción. Bajo la decisión de 7-2, escrita por el juez Stevens, los jueces pueden ahora imponer sentencias por debajo de las guias de sentencias.

Casa para Cultivo de Marijuana - Tráfico de Marijuana

Otro cargo de drogas común en la Corte Federal involucra la Marijuana - ya se trate de tráfico de Marijuana, la importación internacional de Marijuana, posesión con intención de distribuir Marijuana, Marijuana, el mantenimiento de una casa para cultivo de Marijuana, cultivo de Marijuana y conspiración con intención de distribuir Marijuana.

La mera posesión de Marijuana en una pequeña cantidad, es un cargo que rara vez se aplica en la corte federal. La mayoría de los casos terminan en la corte estatal. Una excepción es si hubiera sucedido en tierras federales, como un parque nacional.

Típicamente, para un cargo de mantenimiento de una casa para cultivo de Marijuana, el gobierno federal no pone cargos a un acusado a menos que tengan al menos cien plantas de Marijuana. 

Este número podría ser la cantidad total si hay varias casas cultivando Marijuana. Por ejemplo, yo he representado a personas acusadas por el gobierno federal con el cultivo de marihuana en diferentes lugares. Los federales suman el número total de plantas para ver si consiguen más de 100 plantas.

Yo presenté una moción para suprimir en un caso federal de drogas - mantenimiento de una casa para cultivo de Marijuana, en donde hubo dos casas separadas, en el sur de la Florida. Mi cliente estaba enfrentando hasta 160 años de prisión. Los agentes federales y la policía entraron en una casa justo después de la media noche y sin una orden de registro. La cuestión era si el consentimiento dado fue dada voluntariamente por una pareja que no entendía Inglés y habla Español.

El cliente fue acusado inicialmente por cargos de:

■ Conspiración para mantener un lugar para fabricar o distribuir Marijuana, enfrentaba a 20 años de prisión, una multa de $500,000 y 3 años de libertad supervisada.

■ El mantenimiento de un lugar para fabricar o distribuir Marijuana, enfrentaba a 20 años de prisión, una multa de $500,000 y 3 años de libertad supervisada.

■ La conspiración para fabricar, distribuir y dispensar 100 o más plantas de Marijuana, la pena de prisión mínima obligatoria de 5 años, 40 años máximo, una multa de $2,000.000, 5 años de libertad supervisada.

■ Posesión con intención de fabricar, distribuir y dispensar 100 o más plantas de Marijuana, la pena de prisión mínima obligatoria de 5 años, 40 años máximo, una multa de $2,000,000, 5 años de libertad supervisada.

Después que la corte escuchó la moción para suprimir, yo negocié un acuerdo con la fiscalía para que el gobierno federal abandonara todos los cargos en la acusación (un máximo de 160 años de prisión y $5,000,000 en multas). En cambio, mi cliente se declaró culpable de un cargo de delito menor de posesión de Marijuana, sin ningún tiempo en la cárcel.

La Ley de Prevención y Lucha Contra la Droga (The Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act)
clasifica las drogas en cinco categorías, categorizadas en clases, la Ley también establece regulaciones y sanciones por el mal uso de los medicamentos que aparecen en cada clase. Las drogas en la clase I y II, incluyendo la heroína, el LSD, la mescalina, marijuana, peyote, opio, cocaína, metadona, anfetaminas, metanfetaminas, son las drogas más severamente restringidas, y por la cual se penalizan más.

Las defensas que tu abogado de defensa criminal federal puede utilizar para conseguir que tus cargos de drogas sean retirados.

Tu mejor defensa en un caso federal de drogas se inicia con la contratación de un abogado certificado por el Colegio de Abogados, que puede detectar los problemas y luchar por ellos. En el juicio, tu abogado puede argumentar con éxito que las drogas no eran los tuyos, que no sabías que las drogas estaban allí y/o las drogas no estaban bajo tu control.

Aparte de un jurado encontrándote no culpable después de un juicio, a menudo la mejor defensa que puedas tener contra cargos de drogas es si los agentes federales y/o policía violaron tus derechos constitucionales. Como regla general, la policía o los agentes federales no pueden entrar en tu casa o habitación de hotel sin una orden de registro. Además, por lo general, si la policía por una infracción, como el exceso de velocidad, la policía no puede registrar tu vehículo. Si el gobierno viola los derechos de la Cuarta Enmienda, las drogas en tu caso pueden ser suprimidas o expulsados del juicio. Si son expulsados, por lo general el gobierno no tiene un caso en tu contra y retiran los cargos.

Tratamiento de Drogas

El tratamiento de drogas es una mejor resolución para el cliente y el gobierno, ya que tú recibes la ayuda que necesitas. Esto disminuye la probabilidad de que tú vuelvas a reincidir. Sin embargo, en la corte federal, la realidad es que si te declaras culpable, lo más probable es que tú vayas a la cárcel. Sin embargo, el tratamiento de drogas está disponible en muchas cárceles federales bajo el programa RDAP, que puede reducir el tiempo que estés en la cárcel.



Triunfos en caso de Cocaína y marijuana

TRÁFICO DE COCAÍNA Y MARIJUANA - Convicción y 20 años de prisión, Invertida debido a mi instrucción especial solicitada al jurado.

En la apelación, el cliente afirmó que el tribunal de primera instancia erró al negarse a dar la instrucción especial al jurado escrito por mí, su abogado defensor. La instrucción indicó con mayor precisión, la ley aplicable en el caso de posesión constructiva de cocaína.

En el juicio, yo pedí una instrucción especial para el jurado sobre la posesión constructiva donde se encuentra el contrabando (cocaína y marijuana) en las instalaciones que posee en forma conjunta. El tribunal de primera instancia negó la solicitud y leyó al jurado la instrucción estándar sobre la posesión.

La Corte de Apelación del Cuarto Distrito (tribunal de apelación) determinó que en los casos de posesión conjunta de los locales, la instrucción al jurado estándar es confuso. La instrucción discute la posesión conjunta del artículo, pero no habla de la posesión conjunta de las premisas en las que se encuentra el artículo. Además, el tribunal de apelaciones dijo que la instrucción al jurado estándar no explica lo que debe ser comprobado, donde la posesión es en conjunto más que la posesión exclusiva de la parte demandada. La instrucción especial, a diferencia de la instrucción estándar, da instrucciones al jurado de que los elementos de conocimiento y la capacidad de controlar no podrán inferirse de la mera posesión conjunta de los locales donde se encuentra contrabando, sino que debe ser establecido por la prueba independiente. Por lo tanto, en este caso la instrucción especial [solicitado por Grey Tesh] al jurado fue necesario con el fin de presentar [su] teoría de la defensa. (énfasis añadido).

La convicción y la sentencia de mi cliente se invirtieron, como resultado de la decisión de los tribunales de apelación. Además, como resultado de mis esfuerzos en su nombre, en la creación de una instrucción especial, la corte de apelaciones recomendó que la instrucción al jurado estándar fuera modificada para incluir mi instrucción especial. Dijeron "También recomendamos que el Comité de Instrucción Penal Estándar de Jurado que revise la instrucción estándar para la modificación en los casos en que un asunto en el juicio implica la posesión conjunta de las premisas en las que se encuentra el contrabando."

Yo represento a clientes acusados de graves delitos federales de drogas, como el tráfico de cocaína, la cocaína crack, posesión con intención de vender y distribuir marijuana, heroína, metanfetamina, LSD y otros delitos relacionados con drogas en los tribunales penales federales en Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Martin County, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Tallahassee, y todos los tribunales federales de los Estados Unidos de América. No me importa viajar para ayudarte con tu caso federal de cocaína, o marijuana.