Federal prosecutors and probation officers often try to enhance or increase sentences for drug offenders using an allegation that a weapon was involved in the crime. To prove a two-level enhancement under § 2D1.1(b)(1) the Government must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that "[a] weapon was possessed in connection with drug activity that was part of the same course of conduct or common scheme as the offense of conviction." United States v. McAllister, 272 F.3d 228, 233-34 (4th Cir.2001.) In assessing whether a defendant possessed a firearm in connection with relevant drug activity, a sentencing court is entitled to consider pertinent factors. The location or proximity of a seized firearm one of the relevant factors to a sentencing court's analysis of whether a firearm was possessed in connection with drug activities that were part of the same course of conduct or common scheme as the offense of conviction.
When facts fail to show that a defendant utilized a firearm during his drug activity this enhancement cannot apply. If there is not sufficient evidence to illustrate that a defendant possessed a handgun in connection with drug activity that was part of the same course of conduct or common scheme as the offense of conviction the court must also avoid penalty increase.
On several occasions, I have successfully convinced United States District Court judges to avoid this sentence increase. The result shaves years off of the actual time of incarceration my clients have had to spend in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The federal criminal practice is vastly different state criminal defense. Successful federal criminal defense attorneys must be able to navigate the complexities of the federal sentencing guidelines. My years of experience allow me to achieve fantastic results for my clients in both federal and state criminal courts. Contact me today to discuss your case.