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How Much Drugs Does It Take to Be Charged with Trafficking?


drug traffickingDrug trafficking and drug dealing are often confused for one another. However, trafficking is a much more serious offense, while dealing (distributing) is not as severe. Both carry prison sentences, but one often involves the federal government and the potential for a more extended prison sentence. Every state has their definition for what they consider “trafficking.” But in the end, it comes down to the amount and substance carried.

A person could be arrested and convicted of trafficking for manufacturing, transporting, selling, or distributing illegal substances. However, it requires the right amount of that controlled substance. Furthermore, many defendants assume that if they did not make, buy, or sell the product, they could not be arrested for trafficking. This is untrue. You can be arrested and charged by simply possessing enough of the controlled substance.

What Are Considered Controlled Substances in Albuquerque?

Controlled substances are legal and illegal drugs. Some are prescribed daily, but when they are used for an unintended purpose or sold, a crime has been committed. Controlled substances are placed into schedules or categories. Specific categories carry a harsher penalty than others.

As of right 2018, the substance schedules are:

  • Schedule I – These drugs have a high potential for abuse. Therefore, they are the most heavily regulated. These substances also have no medical use. Consequently, they are illegal substances. Schedule I includes drugs like heroin, peyote, and ecstasy.
  • Schedule II – Schedule II has a high potential for abuse, but these substances can be used in medical treatments. Therefore, they can be legally prescribed to patients. These substances include amphetamines, methamphetamines, pentobarbital, methadone, oxycodone, and fentanyl.
  • Schedule III – The potential for abuse is not as high in Schedule III. But these substances still contain moderate levels of dependent drugs such as Tylenol with Codeine.
  • Schedule IV – Substances in the fourth category have a shallow potential for abuse and include drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, or Versed.
  • Schedule V – Most of these drugs can be purchased over the counter and have little to no narcotics. Some of these substances may still require a prescription such as Phenergan or ezogabine.

Naturally, being caught with a large volume of a Schedule I substance is likely to result in harsher punishment than a Schedule V. However, you could still be arrested for drug trafficking even if you are carrying a Schedule V substance. As stated before, this is weight and measure charge more than anything.

State and Federal Charges Might Differ

One key fact to note is that federal and state laws play different roles in these cases. You have multiple federal drug laws, but then you have the state’s laws to worry about too. Most state laws are versioned after the federal government, which means you will face minimum sentences regardless of what court you are sent to.

Legislature is often passed to deter people from trafficking in the state, and New Mexico heavily punishes those convicted of trafficking.

Drug Trafficking: Crime of Weight and Measurement

It is not about the drug but the amounts of the drug. Some substances do not require hundreds of pounds in your possession for you to be charged with trafficking either. You can be charged with trafficking for carrying less Schedule I substances than Schedule V. However, the courts would consider several things before convicting you of trafficking.

Intent and Possession

The most significant question the courts want an answer to is your intent. To be convicted, the prosecution must show that the amount in your possession was not for personal use and that you intended to distribute or traffic the substance elsewhere. You must knowingly possess an illegal amount of a substance.

Amount Found

The amount found on you at the time of your arrest plays a substantial role in determining if you are guilty of trafficking or simple possession. Possession means you had it for personal use, and the amount is not substantial enough for you to sell or distribute.

To be charged with distribution, you must meet specific thresholds:

  • 100 Pounds or Less – 100 pounds or less can still constitute distribution. Both first and second offenses are charged as felonies. Typically, if you have 8 ounces or less, you will be charged with possession – not distribution. Over 8 ounces and up to 100 pounds are where the law skirts toward distribution.
  • 100 Pounds or More – 100 pounds or more is most definitely a charge that will result in distribution and potential trafficking. Even an exchange of goods without any money is considered distribution.

Potential for Sale, Manufacture, and Movement

Next, there must be the potential to sell, manufacture, or move the drugs. You must realize, this does not mean that you physically are caught doing any of these, but that merely a possibility exists. If you had the drugs in your possession and they exceed the legal limits, then the courts will justify that there was the potential – even if you did not physically move the drugs.

The Penalties for Trafficking

The penalties vary depending on the substance and the amount. You can expect a prison sentence if you are convicted as well as fines and possibly probation or parole after your prison sentence is served. Also, realize that these crimes carry mandatory minimums. Therefore, the judge is required to sentence you to the minimum sentence regardless of mitigating circumstances.

You Need an Attorney

If you have been arrested for drug trafficking, it is imperative that you hire an attorney immediately. These cases are severe, and the jail sentences can be years – not months.

Contact the team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices immediately if you have been arrested for drug trafficking.

Schedule a free case evaluation now at 505-375-4661 or request more information online.