Many people assume that drug trafficking is similar to drug dealing. However, each of these offenses is governed by different federal and state laws. Generally, drug trafficking involves distributing, selling, transporting, or manufacturing banned drugs.
The severity of your punishment will depend on the measurements and weight of the drugs. Also, you may be guilty of drug trafficking if you are found in possession of any banned drug. Therefore, the amount of time you spend in jail will depend on several factors.
Main Types of Drug Trafficking Charges
Drug trafficking is a grave offense that is recognized as a felony. Some states treat drug trafficking offenses as first-degree felony offenses. Being in possession of illegal drugs and engaging in drug trafficking are two different things, but they generally have similar jail terms and penalties.
Drug trafficking can be a federal crime that violates regulations passed by congress that apply to every American. It usually comes with severe penalties and extended jail times.
There are many types of drug trafficking charges. They include:
1. Possession and Intent
A prosecutor can argue that you intentionally possessed illegal drugs and intended to use them. The intent evidence must be clear and beyond doubt. For instance, drugs may be found in a car that you rented. You can argue that you didn’t know whether there were illegal drugs in the car.
You will be convicted as soon as the court determines that you intentionally possessed illegal drugs. The prosecutor can also show that drugs were found in a place that only you had control over.
The amount of drugs also plays a key role in your sentencing. This, however, varies from one illegal drug to another. For instance, some states prohibit people from being in possession of more than 25 pounds of marijuana. On the other hand, the same state may ban possessing or using more than 28 grams of cocaine. Consequently, being in possession of drugs that exceed the limits can land you in jail.
3. Manufacturing, Transporting, or Selling
You can be found guilty even if you don’t sell, manufacture, or move drugs. The law usually focuses on whether the illegal drugs were in your possession.
State Drug Trafficking Offense
If the alleged crime took place entirely within one state, then the state’s laws will come into play. The majority of the states have borrowed their drug trafficking laws from federal regulations. As a result, the sentencing periods are not very different from one state to another.
Most of these laws target big drug cartels, but the majority of drug trafficking convicts are small drug traffickers. The state prison sentences will typically be shorter than the federal ones. That is because states tend to deal with low amounts of illegal drugs as compared to the federal government.
Federal Drug Trafficking
If a person moves or distributes illegal drugs across state lines, then the federal government takes responsibility. Federal law prohibits the dispensing, distributing, and manufacturing of controlled substances. In most cases, the jail term will depend on the amount in question. There are many federal regulations that dictates how much jail time for drug trafficking that a convicted person should serve or pay.
- If you are found with one ton of marijuana, 5 kg of cocaine, or 1 kg of heroin, you will spend at least ten years in jail, but the court can also hand a life sentence.
- You’ll also spend from 5 to 40 years in prison if you process 100 g of heroin. This is also true for anybody with 500 g of cocaine.
- The maximum sentence for being in possession of 50 kg of marijuana is five years.
As indicated, you will get a longer sentence if you possess huge amounts of banned substances. The sentence will also increase if your drugs caused injury or death to another person. Moreover, the jail term will increase even further if you are found in possession of an illegal firearm. Leaders of drug trafficking cartels also get considerably longer sentences. It is also important to note that the sentences for being in possession of firearms and drug trafficking are not concurrent.
Drug Trafficking Penalties
A drug trafficking charge is one of the worst things that you can be accused of. If you are found guilty, you will probably spend several years or the rest of your life behind bars. The amount of jail time depends on the type of evidence and the applicable state and federal laws: The main kind of penalties are:
1. Jail Term
You must spend some time in jail if you are found guilty of drug trafficking. Once you’ve spent some time in prison, you can then apply to get out on parole. The parole comes up after you have served the minimum sentence under the state’s laws. For example, if the state dictates that drug trafficking convicts must spend at least two years in jail, you can apply for parole once you have been in prison for two years.
If you pleaded guilty and assisted the prosecution in pursuing other drug traffickers, you may be eligible for probation. The court will craft requirements that you must fulfill before you get out. If you are out of jail on probation, a probation officer will monitor your movement and behavior.
The probation officer will authorize your travels and contacts with other people. They will also determine whether you have broken any laws during probation. Typically, probation periods last for a year, but they can be extended to five years or even more.
State and federal laws stipulate fines for drug-trafficking convicts. Generally, states’ penalties are typically lower and can start from as low as $25,000. However, some states have drug-trafficking fines that go beyond $100,000. On the other hand, federal authorities have been known to impose penalties of more than $10 million.
How much jail time for drug trafficking are you looking at? Well, it varies from one state to another. It also depends on the type of illegal drug that you were convicted of. Therefore, the best option is to get a drug crime attorney to guide you through the process. You can contact us for more information about your drug trafficking offense.