What Is Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is defined under state and federal law. It involves the selling and distribution of illegal drugs that are defined in criminal statutes. They may include drugs such as steroids, methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine and other drugs that are sold in large quantities. Even if a person is arrested with only a small amount of drugs in his or her possession for personal use, he or she may still face federal charges for this crime. State law may consider drug trafficking only when larger quantities are involved and classifying smaller amounts as possession charges.

Criminal Implications

When individuals are found with serious drugs in their possession, certain criminal implications may arise. The United States takes the drug trade very seriously. A defendant may face inflated charges simply for being in possession of certain drugs. He or she may quickly be implicated for this crime even if he or she has no knowledge of the workings of his or her drug dealer.

Penalties of Drug Trafficking

The potential penalties for drug trafficking are quite severe. The punishment is usually based on the type of drug involved and its quantity. It is not uncommon for a person to receive a prison sentence of 20 years for a first time conviction of drug trafficking. A person may also face additional penalties including very large fines, rehabilitation, community service and the imposition of probation or parole. His or her personal belongings may be seized if they are believed to be linked to the crime or received through ill-gotten gains.

Since there are often parallel state and federal crimes when it comes to drug charges, the defendant may find that he or she is charged under both state and federal law. This can happen despite double jeopardy protections. If there is a choice between filing state or federal charges, the federal charges are often brought. This results in the criminal defendant facing minimum mandatory sentencing.

In addition to the criminal consequences of a drug trafficking conviction, a defendant may face many other repercussions. He or she may lose a professional license or CDL. He or she may be barred from pursuing certain types of career trajectories. His or her employment applications may be rejected based on status as a convicted felon. He or she may be barred from going to college or receiving student loans. He or she may also be barred from public housing or other types of housing. His or her professional reputation can easily be ruined by such a conviction.