Drug trafficking is a crime that involves the manufacturing, sales, distribution, possession with intent to distribute or sell, and smuggling of controlled substances. The crime of drug trafficking does not include the crime of possessing controlled substances; unless it is proven that the defendant intended to sell or distribute those drugs. The laws regarding drug trafficking offenses are serious and many pundits argue that the penalties for drug trafficking are far too harsh.
Every state and the federal government have laws against the manufacturing, use, and possession of illegal drugs. These laws aim to reduce unlawful consumption and abuse of controlled substances, decrease drug-related crimes, and severely punish repeat offenders and "big-time" drug dealers. The federal government is particularly, some argue unjustly, hard on drug trafficking offenders.
The federal government has enacted a number of incredibly stringent laws regarding drug offenses. Drug trafficking and possession offenders are subject to mandatory minimum sentencing requirements (state sentencing is modeled after these federal schedules). This means if a person is convicted of a drug trafficking offense they will be automatically given a predetermined incarceration sentence. In practice, these mandatory minimum laws have put thousands of non-violent drug offenders behind bars for years longer than violent and dangerous criminals are incarcerated. The average length of incarceration for a first time offender is between one and three years, which is greater than the punishment many violent and truly dangerous criminals receive. Many argue that this is an outrageous injustice in our criminal system.
According to government estimates, more than half of all federal prisoners are drug trafficking or drug-related offenders. Approximately three percent of all these offenders are violent offenders which might pose a threat to public safety if released. Drug trafficking statistics also reveal that violent offenders are required to serve less of their prison term compared to drug offenders. Violent offenders serve an average of 54 percent of their sentence, whereas drug trafficking and other offenders must serve at least 85 percent of their prison term. These harsh consequences for non-violent drug offenses have been castigated by critics who argue that these laws are unjust and do not achieve their intended objectives.
The crime of drug trafficking is considered the most serious of all drug offenses. The punishment for drug trafficking will depend on the type and quantity of the controlled substance and the nature of the drug trafficking. The penalties for drug trafficking will be enhanced if the drugs are sold to or distributed by minors or the drugs are handled in a school zone or other protected area. It is difficult to determine in advance the exact penalty that a drug trafficking offender might face. It is extremely rare for an offender to get off lightly, especially without the help of a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney. A legal professional can evaluate your case to determine the best way to protect and maximize your rights in a drug trafficking case.
If you are interested in learning more about drug trafficking, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney who can assess your case to determine how best to protect and maximize your legal interests.
Related Drug Trafficking News
June 12, 2007 - Supreme Court To Review Sentencing For Crack, Cocaine Charges
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