A 34-year-old Pittsburgh man was indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 11 for multiple offenses related to distribution and trafficking of both heroin and marijuana into the state. In addition to the drug-related charges, the man was also indicted for possessing more than 200 rounds of ammunition while having several prior felony convictions on his record.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the man is facing charges of possession with intent to distribute heroin and marijuana as well as manufacturing marijuana dating back to Jan. 10. The additional charges of possession of the ammunition rounds follow the man's previous 10 felony drug trafficking convictions in seven cases in Allegheny County.
Under the federal sentencing guidelines governing the charged offenses, the man faces a total sentence of between 15 years and life in prison as well as a fine of up to $3,250,000. If convicted, the man's sentence will be determined based on both the offenses as well as his criminal history.
Federal drug charges can result in serious consequences if an accused person is convicted. Sentencing in federal court uses guidelines that determine the ranges for various offenses. In addition to the normal ranges, courts use a formula that takes into account the criminal histories of defendants along with the seriousness of the offenses in determining the actual sentence to be handed down. For example, people with prior felony convictions are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law. Therefore, when a person commits a drug trafficking offense while also in possession of a firearm, the offense is considered to be more serious. People who have been accused of a federal crime have a right to a defense and may benefit by speaking with a criminal defense attorney who practices in federal court.
Source: Westmoreland Times, "Felon charged with federal drug and gun law violations ", November 11, 2014