Drug Trafficking Laws And Penalties

Drug Trafficking Laws And Penalties

by | Sep 11, 2018

Drug trafficking is a crime that can be charged at both a state and federal level. While each state has different laws and requirements regarding what constitutes drug trafficking, there are some common rules that govern when someone should be charged with it.

It’s also important to know that drug trafficking is a completely separate crime than drug dealing. In almost every case, being charged with drug trafficking is a far more serious crime than drug dealing.
 

What Is Drug Trafficking?

You can be charged with drug trafficking if you manufacture, transport, sell, or distribute illegal drugs. What often differentiates trafficking from dealing is the scale of the operation.

Additionally, you can also be charged with drug trafficking based on the the amount of any illegal drugs in your possession. Even if you didn’t make or buy them yourself, any amount over a specified limit can trigger a drug trafficking charge.

You will be charged with federal drug trafficking if any aspect of the trafficking activity crosses state lines or involves activity in more than one state. Being charged at the federal level is an extremely serious charge and will require an attorney experienced in handling federal drug cases.

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Prosecuting Drug Trafficking

Whether you’ve been charged at the state or federal level, the prosecution will have to prove (at minimum) the following things in order for you to be convicted:

Intent And Possession: A prosecutor must show that you possessed an amount of illegal drugs to qualify for drug trafficking charges. The must must also show that your possession of the drugs was intentional (as opposed to accidental).

Amount: The amount of drugs in your possession determines whether or not you will be charged with trafficking. The type of drug is also important, because different types of drugs have different requirements for the amounts possessed to be charged with drug trafficking.

For example, someone in possession of 30 ounces of marijuana may not be charged with trafficking, but a different person with the same amount of heroin or meth could be.

Sale, Manufacture, Or Transportation: It’s important to remember that the prosecution does not have to show that you sold, made, or transported the drugs in order to charge you with drug trafficking. Intentional possession of a specific amount are the only requirements to bring trafficking charges against you.
 

Drug Trafficking Penalties

Being convicted of drug trafficking carries some very serious penalties. Even though the unique factors of a given case can impact the sentence, no one walks away from a conviction with a “slap on the wrist”.

For example, if the weight of drugs involved totaled at least 5 grams of pure meth or at least 50 grams of a mixture containing a detectable amount of meth, you can be punished as follows:

  • 5 to 40 years in prison, a maximum $5 million fine, or both for a first offense
  • 10 years to life in prison, a maximum $8 million fine, or both for a second offense
  • 20 years to life in prison if death or serious bodily injury occurs as a result of use of the substance

The penalties only get worse from there. Which means that anyone who has been charged with drug trafficking should find a experienced attorney to help with their case as quickly as possible.

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