Understanding Drug Trafficking Laws and Possible Defenses

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Drug Trafficking Arrest

Drug trafficking is a broad term that encompasses any type of distributing, selling or supplying drugs. This crime is punished under both federal and state law.

In order to charge you with drug trafficking, police must prove that you possessed the drugs in question for purposes other than personal use. This is usually established through circumstantial evidence like scales, baggies, large amounts of cash, incriminating text messages between you and your suppliers and customers, and witness testimony.

Federal Drug Trafficking Charges

A conviction for drug trafficking can have devastating consequences on your life. Federal authorities take a harsh stance on drug crimes and prosecute them aggressively. The penalties are typically more severe than state drug trafficking charges because they involve large amounts of illicit substances and often cross state lines.

In addition to fines and jail time, a drug trafficking conviction can make it extremely difficult to find work as a result of the stigma attached to such serious accusations. Your reputation will also be damaged, and you may be barred from obtaining certain government benefits like health care coverage or student loans.

There are a variety of possible defenses to federal drug trafficking charges. Some of the most common include: police lacked probable cause to search your property or were engaged in unlawful entrapment. The drugs in question did not belong to you and were not yours to sell or distribute. You were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.

State Drug Trafficking Charges

Although drug trafficking and possession can look similar, the government must prove a defendant had the intent to sell or distribute the prohibited substance in order to charge them with a drug trafficking offense. This typically requires more circumstantial evidence than simple drug possession cases, such as business cards or plastic bags. It may also involve witness testimony, evidence of a drug ring, and more.

Drug trafficking charges are usually more severe than simple possession, and they are often handled by federal agencies like the FBI or DEA rather than state police departments. This is because they can involve a large amount of drugs and the crossing of state or national borders.

New York Attorney General Letitia James recently announced the bust of a major fentanyl and cocaine trafficking ring in Rochester, NY. She arrested 48 people in connection with this operation as part of the Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic (SURGE) initiative. These alleged traffickers face significant state and federal charges that include drug trafficking, conspiracy to smuggle, money laundering, possession of a firearm, and more.

Penalties for Drug Trafficking Charges

A drug trafficking conviction can be a major felony and could result in many years in prison. If the drugs are manufactured, distributed or sold in violation of state or federal law, the conviction can also result in significant fines.

The prosecutor must prove that you knowingly possessed the drug you are charged with trafficking, and this can be a difficult standard to meet. In some cases, prosecutors may attempt to cast doubt on your knowledge through circumstantial evidence such as the presence of a scale or other items indicating that you were trying to turn a profit, like plastic baggies and business cards.

Generally, the amount of time you will spend in jail for drug trafficking is dependent on what type and how much drugs you are accused of possessing. You can face a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison if you are found guilty of trafficking Schedule I or Schedule II drugs.

How to Fight Drug Trafficking Charges

It is crucial to preserve any evidence you have that may help beat drug trafficking charges. Your attorney will likely have several strategies in his or her arsenal to fight the charge, including arguing lack of knowledge or intent. This defense can be difficult to prove, but if your attorney succeeds, the prosecution’s case against you could significantly weaken or even lead to a dismissal of the charges.

Your attorney could also argue that police officers violated your Fourth Amendment rights during the search and seizure of your property. For example, if the officers did not have the legal authority to search your home or vehicle, any drugs discovered there could be inadmissible in court.

It is also essential to remember that you have the right to remain silent and to an attorney when questioned by law enforcement officers. During your questioning, your attorney will guide you on how to answer so that you do not incriminate yourself.

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