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Explaining drug trafficking

On Behalf of | Sep 24, 2023 | Felonies |

Drug laws can be confusing, particularly regarding controlled substances and charges for trafficking or possession. Federal and Michigan state laws prohibit most of these substances, but penalties and precedence can vary. There is also confusion between drug possession and trafficking. It’s crucial to understand these distinctions when dealing with felony drug crimes.

What is drug trafficking?

The critical point in understanding drug possession versus drug trafficking is the difference between possessing drugs for personal use versus having drugs intending to distribute or sell them. The latter is drug trafficking, frequently referred to as drug distribution.

Often, the law separates drug possession charges from drug trafficking charges by the number of drugs you’re found to be possessing. Possession charges are more likely with smaller amounts, while more significant amounts may bring mandatory trafficking charges. Trafficking charges almost always carry significantly harsher penalties than possession charges.

Factors in trafficking charges

Even within the category of trafficking, there’s a large degree of variation in how severe penalties are, including the following factors:

  • What Schedule level is the drug in question?
  • Did you cross state lines in trafficking drugs?
  • How large was the amount of drugs trafficked?
  • Were children involved in any way?
  • Did you commit or participate in any violent crimes during the trafficking?

Lower Schedule drugs, like Schedule I rated heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana, and others, receive harsher penalties. Crossing state lines creates a larger offense, turning it into a federal rather than state crime. Carrying larger quantities of illegal or scheduled drugs illicits higher penalties. The presence of a child around the drugs endangers them and creates an even harsher punishment for you. Committing a crime while in possession of drugs elevates charges against you. As a result of all these factors, drug trafficking sentences can run from a few years in prison to life in prison.

Drug trafficking is distinguished from drug possession primarily by an intent to sell or distribute controlled substances rather than possessing them for personal use. Drug trafficking charges and sentencing consider numerous mitigating factors, meaning cases can vary dramatically depending on the details.