Drug Violations Law

Sentencing for Drug Distribution

Drug distribution is a felony drug offense in most states. The penalties for selling drugs can include a mandatory minimum prison sentence, fines, and a felony criminal record. Prosecutors may try and charge the suspect with drug distribution crimes even if they only possessed drugs for personal use.

If you are arrested on drug distribution charges, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney to understand your rights and legal options. Drug laws are different in every state. Talk to a criminal defense lawyer in your area for legal advice about your defense options.

State and Federal Drug Distribution Laws

Drug distribution can be a state or federal crime. When the defendant is accused of distributing a large quantity of drugs or drugs are transported across state lines, it can be a federal offense. However, most distribution of controlled substance offenses are handled in state court.

Drug distribution involves the selling, manufacturing, exchanging, or transferring of a controlled substance. In many cases, the intent to distribute can be based on the amount of drugs involved. If the defendant is in possession of over a certain amount of drugs, they may be charged with intent to distribute instead of simple possession.

The amount of a controlled substance to be considered distribution can depend on the specific substance involved. For example, under federal law, the penalties for possession of 10 grams of LSD is the same as possession of 50 grams of methamphetamine or 1000 kilograms of marijuana.

Drug Distribution Sentencing

The penalties for drug distribution, drug manufacturing, or possession with intent to distribute depend on the type of drugs and other factors. Drugs are categorized by schedule, where Schedule I drugs are considered the most harmful and without a valid medical purpose. Under federal laws, Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and marijuana.

Possession of small amounts of drugs is generally a drug possession misdemeanor offense. Possession of larger amounts can be considered drug distribution, a more severe crime. The larger the amount of illegal drugs involved generally carries more serious penalties. For example, under federal criminal law, possession of more than 50 grams of methamphetamine carries a potential for a mandatory minimum of 10 years imprisonment or up to life imprisonment.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in Sentencing

Penalties for drug offenses, including drug distribution, are often based on sentencing guidelines. Sentencing penalties can be increased or decreased based on aggravating and mitigating factors.

Aggravating factors that can increase penalties include prior convictions, distribution near a school or playground, and drug distribution involving a firearm. Mitigating factors that can reduce the penalties include a first-offense drug crime, substance abuse problems, or showing genuine remorse.

Defenses to Drug Distribution Charges

There are legal defenses to drug trafficking charges. Depending on your situation, legal defenses include:

  • Illegal search or seizure
  • Invalid warrant
  • Lack of probable cause to arrest
  • No intent to distribute
  • The drugs belonged to someone else
  • The drugs were for personal use
  • The substance was not an illegal drug
  • the individual did not know the drugs were an illegal substance
  • the individual did not know the drugs were on their property
  • the drugs were found in area that the individual did not own or have significant control over that others may have had access to
  • Entrapment
  • The informant is not credible

How Can I Find a Criminal Defense Attorney?

A local criminal defense attorney understands how criminal charges are handled in your state. If you are looking for a criminal defense attorney and don’t know where to start, here are some options. If you know someone who was charged with a criminal offense, you may be able to get a personal referral.

You can also try an online lawyer directory like LawInfo. Using LawInfo, you can search for attorneys in your area with experience in specific practice areas like drug distribution offenses.

Was this helpful?