Federal Drug Trafficking Charges
Although most drug offenses are charged in state court, certain offenses, such as trafficking, are sometimes tried by federal prosecutors, as drug sales often involve the crossing of state lines. Convictions for federal drug offenses tend to come with particularly severe penalties, so if you have been charged with drug trafficking in federal court, you should consider speaking with an experienced federal crime lawyer who can help you begin formulating a defense.
What is a Controlled Substance?
The severity of the penalties that come with a conviction for federal drug trafficking depend on a number of factors, including the type and amount of controlled substance in question. Controlled substances are defined as chemicals, compounds, or other restricted drugs and are divided into different categories, known as schedules. Schedule I drugs are those that have a high potential for abuse and have no currently acceptable medical purpose, including heroin, LSD,
ecstasy, bath salts, peyote, and despite its legalization by a number of states, marijuana. Schedule II drugs, on the other hand, do have an acceptable medical use, but are unlawful without a prescription and include: methadone, oxycodone, morphine, opium, codeine, and methamphetamine.
Schedule III drugs are considered to have a potential for abuse that is less than Schedule I and II substances. Common Schedule III drugs include narcotics with less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit and non-narcotics, such as ketamine and anabolic steroids. Because they have a low potential for abuse, drugs like Xanax, Soma, and Valium are categorized as Schedule IV controlled substances, while Schedule V substances include cough medications that contain up to 200 milligrams of codeine.
Elements of Drug Trafficking
Drug trafficking, or drug distribution actually involves a wide range of conduct, including: selling, transporting, and illegally importing controlled substances. However, before a person can be convicted of drug trafficking in federal court, prosecutors must be able to prove that he or she knowingly possessed a controlled substance and then either sold, transported, or imported the substance or intended to do so. The second element usually involves the production of circumstantial evidence that demonstrates that possession was not merely for personal use, but for commercial purposes. This could include proof that a scale, plastic bags, large amounts of cash, or records detailing sales and purchases were recovered at the time of arrest.
If these elements are satisfied and a defendant is convicted of drug trafficking, he or she could face prison time and fines, both of which depend on the type of drug in question, where the substances were sold, and a defendant’s prior criminal record. Similarly, under federal law, all drug trafficking offenses that involve Schedule I and II substances are punishable by between 20 years to life imprisonment if death or serious bodily injury results from the use of the substance.
Call Our Federal Crime Legal Team Today
With so much at stake, it is critical for those who have been charged with drug trafficking in federal court to retain an experienced attorney who will aggressively defend their rights. To learn more about how we can help you with your own defense, please call dedicated Miami federal crime lawyer Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at 305-670-9919 today.