There are three main categories of drug crimes. These are drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is a federal crime that can result in a felony conviction. While drug possession and trafficking may be easy to confuse and some people may use the terms interchangeably, these are different crimes with different penalties. Because drug trafficking is a serious felony offense with hefty penalties, it is crucial to seek professional legal representation as soon as possible. Because of the nature of these charges, the accused often learns about the case after he or she has been arrested. However, it is wise to seek counsel even if you are the subject of an investigation and have not yet been arrested.
Understanding Drug Trafficking
With both drug trafficking and drug possession, you are in physical possession of an illegal, controlled substance. However, to be convicted of drug possession, you generally would be caught carrying the substance on your body or in some other way. Drug trafficking, on the other hand, specifically pertains to the movement and sale of drugs that you possess. You may be convicted of drug trafficking if you are caught moving or importing a large amount of drugs. This amount may be defined as being more than what is reasonable for personal use. The distribution or sale of drugs also falls under the realm of trafficking.
The Controlled Substances Act
Both the federal and state governments have unique drug laws. For example, marijuana possession and use are legal on the state level in multiple states, but the drug has not been legalized on a national level. When the federal government passed the Controlled Substances Act, it created drug classes based on their health risks, addictive properties and medical uses. A Schedule I substance, for example, is addictive, unsafe and has no medical purposes. A Schedule III substance, on the other hand, is moderately addictive, has accepted medical purposes and is minimally addictive.
Penalties for Drug Trafficking Offenses
It is important to note that penalties for drug trafficking offenses vary based on the classification of the drug in some cases. In addition, the penalties will vary based on the quantity of the drug that you are carrying. If you are accused of distribution, the geographic area may be taken into account. If children are targeted in distribution activities, the severity of the punishment upon conviction will be much more severe. If someone has experienced serious bodily harm or if a firearm was involved, the punishment may also be more severe. Because of the wide range of drug crimes and charges that fall under the banner of drug trafficking, prison sentences can range from three years to life in prison. In addition, years of probation, major fines and the fallout associated with having a felony conviction on your record should be expected.
Drug Trafficking Defense Strategies
While each drug trafficking case has unique nuances, there are three primary defense strategies that experienced drug crime attorneys use. One of these strategies is a claim of entrapment. This means that the defendant was somehow set up by the police. However, if the defendant has prior charges or if other significant evidence exists, this defense is generally not suitable.
Another claim is to deny that the defendant has possession of the drugs. For example, if drugs were found hidden in someone’s car, the defendant may claim that he or she was not aware of their presence. The prosecutor is then faced with the burden of proving that the defendant had ownership.
Another common defense strategy that drug trafficking attorneys use is illegal search and seizure. Law enforcement must have the proper warrants in place to search a vehicle, a residence or another location. A warrant will dictate exact areas where the authorities are permitted to search. The lack of a proper warranty may result in the dismissal of charges.
Request a Consultation with a Drug Trafficking Attorney
Your drug trafficking attorney will represent you through questioning, the initial hearing, plea bargaining, the trial, sentencing and even the appeals process. He or she should be a true expert regarding the facts of your case, so it is important to get your attorney involved as soon as possible. To request a consultation with a drug trafficking attorney, contact the office today.
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