Drug trafficking charges can lead to severe penalties in the District of Columbia. However, once given the proper guidance and representation, these charges don't always have to result in prison time or hefty fines.
As far as drug distribution is concerned, federal law makes no distinction between the possession with intent to distribute marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or any other drug. The federal laws cover the distribution of any illegal narcotics, even those intended for personal use and not meant to be resold. With that said, there may be statutory differences between state and federal law violations. Make sure you speak with a Washington DC drug crimes attorney for further clarification on how your case could potentially be charged at either level.
Regardless of the severity of charges, a drug trafficking conviction can lead to serious consequences. In addition to criminal penalties and fines, those convicted of drug crimes may also face a lengthy jail or prison sentence. Prosecuting agencies will take certain factors into consideration when determining the appropriate penalty for the offense.
The following are four important factors that can influence the charge of drug trafficking.
Type and Amount of Drug
The type and amount of drugs confiscated will play a significant role in the seriousness of the trafficking charges. For example, if a person is caught with 28 grams or less of marijuana for personal use, this would be considered a misdemeanor under DC law. On the other hand, possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of marijuana would be considered a felony.
Weight and purity greatly impact the court's sentencing as well. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines take this into account to determine the appropriate base offense level for trafficking charges involving substances such as heroin, MDMA, and methamphetamine. For example, a half kilogram of 100 percent pure heroin will carry a heavier sentence than a half kilogram of 90 percent purity.
There are several agencies involved in the prosecution and investigation of drug trafficking charges. The Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as well as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency all have jurisdiction over drug trafficking cases. Each agency has its own guidelines and approaches for dealing with larger drug busts involving the smuggling of narcotics across state borders as well as those involving smaller amounts that stay primarily within a community.
For more information call our Washington DC criminal defense attorney at Lotze Mosley LLP.