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The penalties for federal drug trafficking charges

When it comes to drug crimes, there are a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions. A drug charge type is dependent on the type of controlled substance the accused offender is in possession of and whether or not another act took place with the supposed controlled substance. For instance, being caught with a small amount of a low level controlled substance could result in just a possession charge because the underlying assumption is that it is for personal use. However, if a suspect is found to be in possession of a large quality of a high level narcotic in conjunction with a large amount of cash and even items such as a scale, this could result in suspected drug trafficking and distribution.

For federal drug trafficking charges, the penalties can be harsh and grave. Based on a penalties chart by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, for schedule II narcotics, such as cocaine, cocaine base and fentanyl, a first time offender could face between five to 40 years in prison. This penalty is based on the accused possessing 500 to 4999 grams of cocaine, 28 to 279 grams of cocaine base or 40 to 399 grams of fentanyl.

Regarding the same illicit drugs, first time offenders could face much harsher penalties if the quantity is higher. A conviction could result in more than 10 years but not more than life in prison. If the accused is found to be in possession of 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, 280 grams or more of cocaine base or 400 grams or more of fentanyl, these penalties could apply

Those facing a federal drug trafficking charge are concerned about their future. A conviction could mean harsh penalties on top of damage to one's reputation. Therefore, taking the time to understand what defense options might be available in your situation is vital. Taking this step could help you reduce the charges against you, even dismissing them altogether.

Source:, "Federal Trafficking Penalties," accessed Oct. 1, 2017

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