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Grand jury indicts Luzerne County man on drug, weapons charges

When prosecutors are able to link the possession of a firearm to federal drug trafficking charges, the possible penalties are severe. The mandatory sentencing guidelines are even harsher if a convicted felon is found to be in possession of a firearm while engaging in drug trafficking.

Defending against a gun charge requires proving that the weapon in question was not involved in a crime, or proving that the defendant was not linked to the weapon. A Luzerne County man may need such a defense after being charged with federal drug and weapons crimes. The 33-year-old allegedly has gang ties, and if convicted of the gun charges against him, the possible penalties include life in prison.

The man was allegedly in possession of a .45-caliber pistol when authorities raided an apartment in Kingston, Pennsylvania. Another man was also arrested in the raid, and police claim to have found the gun, body armor, a machete and crack cocaine in the residence.

The 33-year-old defendant was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly distributing heroin and cocaine in Luzerne County over a six-month period in 2013. He faces nine counts related incidents that allegedly occurred during that time. Because of a prior drug conviction, the defendant is not supposed to carry or own a gun, and two of the counts against him are weapons charges.

Each of the seven drug trafficking charges carries a maximum possible penalty of a $1 million fine and a 20-year prison sentence. If the defendant is found to be an "armed career criminal," he faces a possible life sentence if found guilty of possessing a gun as convicted felon.

Clearly, the stakes are high, and Pennsylvania residents facing a similar situation need to be aware of the available defense strategies.

Source: timesleader.com, "Kingston man faces federal drug, gun charges," Roger DuPuis, Dec. 10, 2013

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