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Uncharged Conduct In Federal Drug Cases

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When a person is convicted of a federal drug offense in Florida, they must be sentenced, and Florida generally prosecutes drug offenses aggressively. As a result, any factor in sentencing that can be entertained lawfully usually is. The issue of uncharged conduct – that is, conduct that might be criminal, but was not charged by prosecutors – can play a role in determining a person’s ultimate sentence.

Why Is Uncharged Contact Relevant?

Uncharged conduct cannot be used as proof of bad character, but it has many other uses. A fact many defendants are unaware of is that in criminal cases, a court can consider all “relevant” conduct in determining an appropriate sentence. This does include uncharged conduct, as long as it can be specifically shown to be relevant to the offense in question. In some cases, in federal court, all “acts and omissions” made by the defendant during the course of committing a crime may be considered relevant at sentencing.

One of the other most important reasons that uncharged conduct can be relevant in a drug case is to establish the existence of a common plan or scheme. If a person is charged with two separate crimes, but evidence is stronger for one over the other, their uncharged conduct may serve as a bridge between the two offenses, linking them so that they can both be considered at sentencing.

Multiple Sentencing Factors Permitted

The case of U.S. v Obregon (2023) shows how uncharged conduct can make a difference at sentencing. The defendant was convicted of several weapons and drug trafficking offenses, and sentenced to 17.5 years in prison. He appealed, arguing two different grounds, both relating to the fact that the presence of drugs was imputed to him as relevant to his conduct even though not enough evidence existed to prove this.

The court disagreed, upholding the defendant’s sentences. Because of the defendant’s uncharged conduct, the court found that enough evidence existed to logically conclude that the drugs were there as a result of defendant’s trafficking; to assume only charged conduct would be relevant to sentencing determination is to handicap the court unnecessarily.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug offense, it is important to be aware that not only your charged conduct is relevant to the outcome. A West Palm Beach drug offenses attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help to protect your rights at sentencing, and hopefully to prevent conviction in the first place. Contact our office today to speak to an attorney.

Source:

law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca11/22-12067/22-12067-2023-03-15.html

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