How Does a Court View Drug Possession Compared to Trafficking?

When it comes to drug charges, the details matter. Whether you or someone you know is facing charges of drug possession, drug trafficking or drug distribution, the consequences of a conviction on one or all of these charges can be severe and life altering.

The sentence imposed by a judge is largely dependent upon the type of drug charges which a defendant might be facing. For example, drug trafficking and distribution, considered a felony, carries a greater penalty and sentence than drug possession. However, you may be charged with trafficking if you are caught in possession of drugs and are suspected of intent to sell them.

If you face drug charges as the result of an arrest, your sentence may hinge upon several factors such as the amount and type of drugs involved, the geographic area of distribution, the classification of the drugs found in your possession, and whether or not children were involved. Sentences for trafficking or distributing unlawfully controlled substances (like heroin and methamphetamine), as well as lawfully controlled substances (such as hydrocodone and other prescription pain medication), typically range from 3-5 years in prison to a life sentence.This is largely dependant upon the individual’s criminal history.

Much like federal laws pertaining to drugs and other controlled substances, states also have their own varying degree of laws and regulations to determine sentencing in drug related cases. Many states have modeled their drug legislation after federal statutes, enforcing minimum mandatory sentences that are imposed to deter repeat offenders and potential criminals alike. Ultimately, any federal laws pertaining to the drug crimes with which you are being charged will supercede state law, likely leading to an increased sentence. The fact that there are so many variables that pertain to sentencing for crimes related to drugs is why it is critical to consult with a knowledgeable attorney.