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Distributing illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin or illegally distributing prescription drugs such as pain relievers or sleeping pills are serious felony crimes in both federal and state laws carrying long prison sentences and large fines if convicted. Drug distribution is a less serious crime than drug trafficking because the amount of drugs is typically less.
Drug distribution, or possession of drugs with intent to distribute in many jurisdictions, refers to the sale, importation or transfer of illicit drugs.
The federal government and most state judiciaries view the crime of drug distribution as adjacent to drug trafficking.
It can be difficult to distinguish drug distribution charges from drug trafficking charges, but the primary point of distinction has to do with the volume of drugs.
Drug distribution, or possession of drugs with intent to distribute, typically involves a lesser amount of a substance such as cocaine being found on the alleged offender, alongside a “substantial” amount of cash. When there is a great deal of the illicit substance found in the possession of the defendant, and/or the defendant is caught conducting a drug deal involving a substantial sum of money and illicit product, these charges may be escalated to drug trafficking.
Contrary to popular belief, drug trafficking charges do not always involve travel between states, crossing interstate borders.
Drug distribution, or possession with intent to distribute, is almost always classified as a felony. There are exceptions, however, in some cases, if the controlled substance involved in such charges belongs to Class A (heroin, morphine, ketamine, etc.), Class B (cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, PCP, meth, etc.) or Class C (psilocybin mushrooms, Vicodin, tranquilizers, etc.), the drug distribution charge is classified as a felony. On the other hand, if the controlled substance at the center of this example belongs to Class D such as cannabis or Class E (weaker prescription drugs) the crime is classified as a misdemeanor.
The penalties for drug distribution vary based on the type of drug being moved, the quantity of the drug involved and the jurisdiction.
Federal penalties for drug distribution and drug trafficking are generally quite severe. For more egregious violations the sentencing calls for a punishment of between 10 years to life imprisonment. Ten or more grams of LSD, 50 grams or more of meth and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana/cannabis (or 1,000 or more plants) qualify for this degree of punishment.
For lesser quantities such as one or more grams of LSD, or 100 kilograms of marijuana/cannabis the federal punishment ranges from five to 40 years behind bars. All penalties are enhanced if the recipient/buyer is under the age of 21 if the distribution is taking place on or near schools or colleges, if other transport-related crimes are conducted in the commission of the offense or if a minor (under age 18) is used in service of committing the offense.
States vary in their treatment of drug distribution or drug trafficking charges. For instance, possession with intent to distribution could result in a sentence of one to nine years imprisonment. In some states, the punishment for charges related to drug distribution range from three to nine years. As with the federally-aligned charges, many jurisdictions enhance penalties related to this offense if minors are involved, or if the distribution takes place near schools, colleges or playgrounds during operational hours.
If you’re facing charges related to drug distribution or drug trafficking in Altoona, it is strongly recommended that you secure adequate legal counsel as soon as possible. As outlined earlier, the penalties for drug distribution charges are severe enough to take very seriously, as conviction could mean jail time in addition to a permanent criminal record.
A skilled criminal defense attorney familiar with past precedent and case law pertaining to drug-related offenses can help guide you through all possible options available from a legal perspective, and attorney-client privilege allows you to discuss all relevant details and evidence available in order to craft the best possible strategy.
If you are suspected or charged with drug distribution you should immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer who handles drug distribution cases. The lawyer can assess the circumstances of the case, form a defense, challenge the admissibility of evidence against you, conduct an independent investigation and aggressively represent you.
It is in your best interest to get legal help early on in addressing your situation. There are times when hiring a lawyer quickly is critical to your case, such as if you are charged with a crime. It may also be in your best interest to have a lawyer review the fine print before signing legal documents. A lawyer can also help you get the compensation you deserve if you’ve suffered a serious injury. For issues where money or property is at stake, having a lawyer guide you through the complexities of the legal system can save you time, hassle, and possibly a lot of grief in the long run.
The goal of an initial consultation is to find an attorney you are comfortable working with and someone who can help you understand your options under the law. Seek to understand the relevant legal experience the attorney brings to your case. While it is not realistic to expect an attorney to resolve your legal issue during an initial consultation, you should gain a level of comfort with his/her ability to do so. A good consultation can clarify issues, raise pertinent questions and considerations for your case, and help you make an informed decision towards resolving your legal issue.
Experience. Regardless of the type of legal matter you need help with, an experienced attorney will usually be able to get you better results.
Competence. Determine an attorney’s expertise by asking about their track record for the issue you need help with resolving.
Fit. There are plenty of good attorneys out there; make sure you find one you are comfortable working with.
Personal jurisdiction – Requirement that a particular court have authority over a person, in order to bind that person to the judgment of the court, based on minimum contacts. International Shoe Co v. Washington is a landmark Supreme Court case outlining the scope of a state court’s reach in personal jurisdiction.