With so many drug related crimes floating around out there, it is important to be able to distinguish between them all. The exact charge greatly impacts the level of prosecution and the severity of the penalty were the charged to actually be convicted. One of the more serious of these charges is related to drug trafficking, so that is what we will focus on here.
Drug Trafficking Explained
Another term commonly used for drug trafficking is drug distribution. It specifically relates to an individual that is found to be selling, transporting, or illegally importing any controlled substance that is against the law. This includes cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamines, and a variety of other illegal drugs. The part of drug trafficking that makes it a more difficult concept under to understand lies in the fact that punishments can vary widely. If a person is found guilty, the penalty depends on a number of different factors. This includes the actual classification of drug that is involved, the amount, where it is to be distributed, and whether or not children were the target of the drugs. Actual sentences usually involve jail time and can range from a low of three years to a maximum of life.
Classification of Drug Trafficking
When a person is accused of drug trafficking, it is a felony offense. This makes it a much more serious crime than the charge of drug possession alone. It is important to note that being in possession of drugs could result in a charge of drug trafficking if, in the opinion of law enforcement officials, you intended to actually sell them. This will usually occur if the individual being charged had an abnormally large amount of drugs on them at the time of arrest.
It is also important to make mention of the fact that drug trafficking also applies to anyone who is found to be illegally distributing illegal prescription drugs. This can include pain killers and sleeping pills, among others. Today, the illegal trafficking of prescription drugs also involves products Mae from hydrocodone and various types of pharmaceutical opiates.
Controlled Substances and their Application to Drug Trafficking
If a state (or the federal government) classifies a particular substance as being controlled, it means that its distribution is governed by a series of laws. This means that any person selling it must have a license to do so, and they must adhere to a series of policies and regulations that relate to its regulated nature. These controlled substances are typically classified based on a level, or scheduled, system. The higher the schedule, the more severe the drug trafficking charge will be. As an example, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, while cocaine is Schedule II.
Drug Trafficking Charges at the State and Federal Levels
There are various state and federal laws that come into factor when examining a drug trafficking charge. Depending on which law enforcement agency is involved, a variety of charges can actually be leveled against the same individual in two different jurisdiction. The federal government has its own set of drug trafficking laws. At the same time, each individual state in the Union has their own guidelines as well. Most of the state laws mirror those that are on the federal books. As such, there are certain minimum sentences that will be handed out to those convicted of drug trafficking, no matter which type of court the individual is charged in. Because of the ambiguity in some of the sentencing guidelines, however, it is found that much frustration enters when a small time drug trafficker is given a harsher sentence that that handed down to a violent criminal.
Drug trafficking is a serious charge. It is not to be taken lightly and is something that requires a professional and experience lawyer to be on the side of the accused. With the sentences being much harsher than that reserved from other types of drug related crimes, prosecutors also tend to pursue them more vigorously. A charge of drug possession can quickly be changed to one of drug trafficking, so be careful of that as well. If you find yourself charged with any drug related crime, contact a lawyer right away.