Drug trafficking is a serious offense that can result in a prison sentence and other serious consequences. Understanding the legalities of drug trafficking, what is considered drug trafficking and the various penalties is important if you find yourself facing drug charges.
Our drug crimes defense attorney is going to take a closer look at drug trafficking crimes and how penalties are determined as well as how the team at the Law Office Of J.M. Kotzker, can help provide a strong defense strategy.
Understanding Drug Trafficking
Drug trafficking can include the selling, transporting, or possession of a controlled substance such as cocaine, heroin, LSD, and other drugs. The punishment for drug trafficking can vary greatly based on several factors including:
- Type of Drugs
- Quantity of Drugs
- The geographic area of distribution
- Whether children were involved
Drug trafficking is a felony and is a more serious crime than drug possession. But, if you are found to have drugs, you could be charged with trafficking drugs if the police believe you intended to sell them. If you’re found to have a large amount of drugs or cash on you when you are arrested, you may likely face drug distribution charges.
It’s important to note that drug distribution can also apply to the illegal distribution of prescription drugs. This can include painkillers and sleeping pills.
Classifications of Controlled Substances
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies drugs according to their potential for abuse. If you are found possessing drugs or trying to distribute them, the type of drug will matter when it comes to charges and penalties.
Drugs in this category include those with no medical use and have a high potential for abuse. They include:
Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe physical and psychological dependence. Examples of these types of drugs include combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dose, Vicodin, cocaine, meth, and fentanyl.
These drugs have a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Examples include drugs with less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dose, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV drugs with a low potential for abuse and a low risk of dependence. They include:
Drugs in this category have a lower potential for abuse and consist of preparations that have limited amounts of certain narcotics. Some examples include cough medicines with less than 200 milligrams of codeine and Lomotil.
Simple Drug Possession vs Drug Trafficking
If you are charged with drug possession, you willfully have a drug-related substance with you. When you are found to have a small quantity of drugs with you, you may be charged with a first-degree felony or misdemeanor based on the facts surrounding your case. But, if you have a history of prior convictions, you could face harsher charges and penalties.
Drug trafficking involves the production, distribution, and illegal sale of drugs. This is a serious offense. A person can face drug trafficking charges even for a small amount of drugs.
Statute of Limitations Apply to Federal Drug Trafficking Charges
When it comes to federal drug trafficking charges, there is a statute of limitations of five years. Harsh penalties can come with these drug trafficking cases such as up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Drug Trafficking Charges Explained
What Amount of Drugs is Considered Trafficking in North Carolina?
If you are caught in possession of the following amount of certain controlled substances in North Carolina, you may be charged with drug trafficking:
- 10lbs of marijuana
- 28g of methamphetamines
- 4g of heroin or other opioids
- 100 units of LSD
- 28g of MDMA
- 28g of cocaine
These amounts of drugs are the least needed to face severe drug trafficking charges.
How Does the Quantity of Drugs Determine the Charge?
The amount of drugs will determine the drug trafficking charges you may face. Large quantities of drugs will result in more serious charges compared to small quantities.
Federal Drug Trafficking Charges Require the Prosecutor to Prove Specific Elements of the Offense
To be convicted of a drug trafficking charge, the prosecutor needs to prove that you intentionally and knowingly manufactured or distributed a controlled substance or counterfeit drug.
According to drug trafficking laws, if the prosecutor can’t prove that you had the intent to manufacture or distribute the drug, you cannot be convicted.
Penalties for a North Carolina Drug Trafficking Conviction
Depending on the type and quantity of drugs involved, a drug trafficking offense can be charged as a class C, D, E, F, G, or H felony. Each level has its specific penalties.
Here’s a quick look at how penalties break down:
Felony Sentencing Information
|Felony Class||Crime Type||Minimum Sentence (months)||Fine ($)|
|Class D||Marijuana Drug Trafficking||175||$200,000|
|Class D||Cocaine Trafficking||175||$250,000|
|Class E||Opium or Heroin Trafficking||90||$100,000|
|Class F||Marijuana Drug Trafficking||70||$55,000|
|Class F||Cocaine Trafficking||70||$100,000|
|Class F||Methamphetamine Traffic||70||$50,000|
|Class F||Opium or Heroin Trafficking||70||$50,000|
|Class G||Marijuana Trafficking||35||$25,000|
|Class G||Cocaine Trafficking||35||$50,000|
|Class H||Marijuana Trafficking||25||$5,000|
Any type of drug trafficking conviction is serious because it can have long-lasting consequences such as a permanent criminal record, loss of the right to vote, and difficulty finding employment and housing.
The Legal Implications of Possessing Controlled Substances
Possession vs. Intent to Distribute
Possession of drugs refers to someone having drugs on them for personal use. The intent to distribute involves drug trafficking and the sale of drugs. A person can be charged with intent to distribute if they are caught with an unusually large amount of drugs and it is proven they had the intent to sell.
Defenses Against Drug Trafficking Charges
Several defenses can be used to avoid drug trafficking convictions:
Motion to suppress
A motion to suppress involves excluding evidence from the trial. The prosecution must present their case and show that the defendant was handled properly through every step. A criminal defense attorney will file a motion to suppress if they believe the evidence was illegally obtained through an unlawful search. If the police did not have probable cause to conduct a search warrant, your case could be thrown due to a motion to suppress.
Affirmative Defense of Entrapment
Entrapment refers to when a person who normally follows the law is coerced into committing a crime they normally wouldn’t.
Lack of Knowledge
If you were unaware of the illegal drugs, it will be difficult to have a conviction of drug trafficking charges.
If certain mitigating factors apply to your case, your defense attorney may be able to reduce your charges and penalties. Mitigating factors include a clean criminal record, military service, or drug rehabilitation.
Protect Your Rights with an Experienced Drug Defense Attorney From the Law Office Of J.M. Kotzker, P.C.
The Law Office Of J.M. Kotzker, P.C. can provide an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you find yourself facing drug trafficking charges. Our team is here to listen to the details of your case and defend you. Call our office today at (919) 439-5104 to schedule a consultation.