What Is the Maximum Sentence for Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking is a serious criminal offense and one that could put you in prison for years (if not decades). The maximum sentence will depend on how much you were trafficking, the category of drug, and whether you carried it across state lines.
If you have been accused of drug trafficking, now is the time to speak with an attorney. Drug trafficking is a serious felony and that means you will spend time in prison, pay fines, and have a permanent criminal record.
Drug trafficking is a crime that means you allegedly obtained, possessed, and moved a controlled illegal substance. You may be charged with transporting, growing, selling, or delivering a controlled substance. And if you moved it across state lines, you could face federal charges in addition to charges filed by New Mexico state.
The Schedules – How They Play a Role in Determining Your Maximum Sentence
The penalties you face for trafficking depend heavily on what drug you were supposedly carrying. Also, the amount of that substance will play a role as well.
Drugs are categorized into five schedules, and each schedule is based on the likelihood of an addiction or abuse problem with that drug. Some drugs are not illegal at all – in fact, you can obtain them legally by prescription or over-the-counter. Schedule I drugs are those with a higher risk for abuse, and they do not have any medical use. This means you cannot obtain these drugs through a physician.
- Schedule 1 Drugs – Schedule 1 is a drug that has no medical purpose, and there is no reason for a person having this substance. Some states have legalized marijuana, which is Schedule 1. But in this case, it would only be legal to have the maximum amount allowed by your state. And if you were transporting or selling it, you are still breaking the law. Drugs in Schedule 1’s category include ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, peyote, and LSD.
- Schedule 2 Drugs – Schedule 2 drugs might be prescribed by a physician, but they have a high level of abuse potential. These include medications like Adderall, Ritalin, Vicodin, and oxycodone. Cocaine and methamphetamines are illegal substances that also fall into this category. Some medical conditions do have prescription methamphetamines, but these are highly controlled, highly regulated, and illegal to sell.
- Schedule 3 Drugs – These have fewer instances of abuse, but they are still illegal to sell or distribute. A Schedule 3 drug includes anabolic steroids, ketamine, Tylenol with codeine, and testosterone therapy treatments.
- Schedule 4 Drugs – While there is a lower risk for abuse for these drugs, you still need a prescription to obtain these medications. Also, you can have a prescription for them, but if you are distributing or taking them across state lines to deliver, you are breaking the law. These medications include Valium, Xanax, Darvocet, Soma, and Ambien.
- Schedule 5 Drugs – These have the lowest risk for abuse but still can result in a drug trafficking charge if you were to take them across state lines for distribution. These include things like Lyrica, Motofen, and even Lomotil.
The Penalty for Drug Trafficking
You might face state charges or federal charges, depending on the type of trafficking you were doing. When you have higher quantities that meet the federal threshold, then you could face federal charges. Even a smaller amount can trigger a federal charge, especially if you move the drugs from one state to another.
If you were convicted for drug trafficking, your sentence and fine would vary. In New Mexico, you would be charged with a 2nd-degree felony, which means up to 9 years in prison.
Now, federal penalties are much harsher. If you are convicted, the maximum you could serve is up to 40 years, depending on the number of drugs that you were caught with and the schedule they fall into. Also, there are mandatory minimum sentences that the federal government will impose, especially if you have trafficked before and if you are caught carrying a specific amount of a controlled substance in categories one or two.
There Is Not Just the Prison Sentence to Worry About
Most people are worried about the prison sentences, but one important area they tend to forget is the fines and fees that may go along with the sentence. Not only will they have fees as part of their court hearing and costs, but they also have fines. These fines can go as high as $10 million for federal cases – something they may not have the ability to pay.
Second Offenses Increase Penalties
Second offenses and any other subsequent offenses after your second conviction will greatly increase your penalties, unlock maximum mandatory minimums, and increase your fines. Therefore, if you are facing a second drug trafficking offense, it is imperative you speak with an attorney. The courts do not go lenient on repeat offenders, and they will have no issues about assigning maximum sentences in hopes that you will learn your lesson.
Hiring a Defense Attorney Is Critical
If you have been arrested for drug trafficking, now is the time to take the charges and potential penalties seriously. You need an aggressive, experienced criminal defense attorney on your side ready to poke holes in the prosecution’s evidence and find ways to help clear your name.
You do not just have to worry about prison time. Even if you only serve five years, that felony conviction will affect you for the rest of your life. You will be unable to get certain jobs, you may find it is harder to find housing, and you could be disqualified from specific types of federal aide. Instead of taking such a huge risk, you need an attorney who is ready to protect you.
Contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today. Our attorneys know what it is like to be facing years of imprisonment and fines that you cannot possibly afford. Before you take any plea deals or speak with the prosecution, contact our firm immediately to see how we can help you with your defense.
Call us now or request your free case evaluation online.