Drug trafficking encompasses the entire process of the illegal drug trade – from cultivation or production, processing, and distribution to sale.
A drug trafficking offense can be both a state and federal crime. If the unlawful transaction involves dealing large amounts, associating with organized criminal groups or drug rings, and crossing states lines or leaving the country, then it can become a federal concern with harsher penalties.
To fight for their rights, an alleged offender must learn the qualifying factors of their supposed crime.
Identifying qualifying elements
It takes more than using, possessing or having reasonable access to controlled substances, to establish a drug trafficking charge. The authorities must have clear and convincing proof showing:
- Category: Schedule I has the highest potential for abuse, such as heroin and ecstasy. Schedule II also has high addiction potential, but has some medical uses. Schedule III has moderate potential for abuse. Schedules IV and V have low addiction probabilities.
- Quantity: The most dangerous weight for heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine is at least 10 grams. The most severe case for all other schedules is at least 28 grams.
- Intent: There must be a willful purpose to manufacture, finance the manufacturing, deliver and finance the delivery of substantial amounts of illicit drugs.
Aggravating circumstances may also impact the severity of punishment. The court may consider whether the alleged offender has a criminal history, or displayed harmful behavior that led to significant injuries or damages, and affected vulnerable victims (minor children less than 12, seniors at least 65, or the physically and mentally disabled).
Penalties for felony cases in Indiana range from six months to 30 years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine. On the other hand, low-level or first-time offenders may be eligible for the state’s drug court programs with more lenient alternatives.
Beating a drug trafficking charge
A drug trafficking offense can have far-reaching consequences. It can devastate several areas of a person’s life, including housing, education and employment. Thus, an aggressive defense counsel well-versed with state and federal laws can help prevent the worst scenarios. They can work on a solid defense strategy to protect the charged party’s freedom and future.