Cameron Douglas Facing 10 Year Mandatory Minimum Sentence
Actor Michael Douglas' son, Cameron Douglas, arrested July 28 at a New York hotel for a methamphetamine offense, could be facing some serious time.
The federal complaint against him was released yesterday. I'm not linking to it because it still says "sealed" on the court's docket. (You can find it on the internet.) It contains two charges, both of which carry ten year mandatory minimum sentences if convicted.
The first count charges him with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of ICE since 2006. The second count charges the July, 2009 transaction and involved 215 grams of ICE. Any mixture containing over 50 grams of ICE carries a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence. The maximum penalty is life. [More..]
Ice is a form of meth often referred to as crystal meth. By statute, which refers to it as "actual meth", ICE is punished 10 times more severely than other forms of meth. The federal Sentencing Guidelines define "ice" as a mixture or substance containing d-methamphetamine hydrochloride of at least 80 percent purity. Unlike other methamphetamine mixtures, any quantity of "ice" is treated as meth-actual for Guidelines sentencing purposes.
The terms "PCP (actual)", "Amphetamine (actual)", and "Methamphetamine (actual)" refer to the weight of the controlled substance, itself, contained in the mixture or substance. For example, a mixture weighing 10 grams containing PCP at 50% purity contains 5 grams of PCP (actual). In the case of a mixture or substance containing PCP, amphetamine, or methamphetamine, use the offense level determined by the entire weight of the mixture or substance, or the offense level determined by the weight of the PCP (actual), amphetamine (actual), or methamphetamine (actual), whichever is greater.
E.g., 439.5 grams of mixture x 85.1% purity = 374 grams of actual methamphetamine.
As one federal court recently put it:
A defendant comes within that section in two possible ways. First, he may possess 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance that contains enough methamphetamine molecules that the methamphetamine is detectable.
Second, he may possess a substance or mixture that contains methamphetamine molecules whose total weight equals or exceeds 50 grams. When, as in this case, a chemist multiplies the weight of a substance or mixture by the percentage (by weight) of the substance that is composed of methamphetamine molecules (which could range from less than 1% to more than 99%), the chemist is computing the weight of the methamphetamine molecules in the substance or mixture. If that weight equals or exceeds 50 grams, then the defendant possessed 50 or more grams of methamphetamine and is subject to punishment under § 841(b)(1)(A)(viii).
The chemical analysis of Douglas' July, 2009 transaction was 215 grams of actual d-meth, or ICE.
The complaint relies upon three informants, consensually recorded phone calls, intercepted phone calls and lots of fedex and other records. One deal, in May, 2007, allegedly involved 3 pounds of Ice. Another of the informants says Douglas sold him multiple pounds in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
What's odd is that Douglas seems to have disappeared. There's no entry on the docket for a bond hearing or court appearance. Three lawyers have entered their appearance for him. Neither the lawyers nor the feds will comment.
According to Reuters, he appeared in court the day after his arrest. But no further court hearing was set. Even when proceedings are sealed, there's a notation on the docket to a sealed document.
Did he get special treatment by being allowed to enter a private residential drug treatment program after his arrest but before charges were filed against him? It seems to me the Government would seek pre-trial detention for anyone else charged with these offenses.
Maybe they are cleaning Douglas up or protecting him so he can help the DEA bust his suppliers to get out from under the mandatory minimum sentence.
I'll be very surprised if he's convicted and gets no time at all. Even with cooperation, and a famous last name, it's hard to go from a 10 year mandatory minimum down to probation.
The larger question is whether anyone should get a minimum of 10 years in prison for a non-violent drug offense? And whether we should be adding years to a sentence based on purity levels of a drug?
I feel sorry for Cameron Douglas and his parents. Barring an outright acquittal at trial, his options are few and an outcome involving some prison time seems pretty certain. He's a user who sold more than he needed to in order to supply his own needs, but nonetheless, a user. Treatment is a better alternative than prison.
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