Cocaine trafficking is the possession of unreasonable amounts of cocaine, often leading to the sale or transport of the drug. While there is no amount of cocaine legal for possession, either in the state of Tennessee or on a federal level, both the state and federal governments are allowed to set their own limits that define the threshold for cocaine trafficking. The federal government classifies trafficking as the possession with intent to sell or deliver or the actual act of selling and transporting more than 500 grams of cocaine.
This federal offense can result in 5 to 40 years in prison in addition to fines and state charges. If someone is injured or dies because of using the cocaine you sold or provided, the death is classified as a separate charge and often results in a life sentence. Larger quantities of cocaine and repeat offenses will result in harsher sentences that you will receive. A second offense at 500 grams will result in a sentence of no less than 10 years and no more than life in prison. The next threshold exists at 5 kilograms of cocaine, which results in no less than 10 years as a first offense, 20 years for the second, and life in prison for the third.
The state of Tennessee typically focuses on possession with the intent to sell or deliver and sets a much lower threshold for felony charges. Being found in possession of over .5 grams of cocaine could net you Class C felony charges of possession with the intent to sell or deliver and a $100,000 fine. Over 26 grams will result in a Class B felony and up to a $200,000 fine, while over 300 grams is a Class A felony and up to $500,000 in fines.
Whether state or federal, a felony charge can severely limit your job prospects, your ability to vote and own a firearm, and prevent you from applying for college, student loans, and state professional licenses. An experienced lawyer is your best defense in the face of a cocaine trafficking charge. A Nashville drug trafficking lawyer has a deep understanding of the complex laws surrounding these charges and can help you build a sturdy case that gives you the best chance at reducing your sentence or dismissing your charges.
Although sometimes used interchangeably, drug trafficking and drug distribution are two separate crimes.
Drug trafficking can include the manufacturing, distributing, transporting, or selling of illegal drugs. However, it is important to note that the drugs in question do not need to be going anywhere to result in drug trafficking charges. Instead, the weight of the drugs involved is the defining characteristic for drug trafficking. As mentioned, federal and state governments set their own thresholds to distinguish drug trafficking, but these involve amounts determined unreasonable for a single individual to consume.
Drug distribution would be more aptly called intent to sell and occurs when you are faced with allegations of the selling of drugs. Often, drug distribution charges occur after an individual sells drugs to an undercover officer or a confidential informant. It is extremely challenging to battle against drug distribution charges in this case.
While a drug distribution charge is still a felony, it is less severe in most instances than trafficking. The state and federal government see trafficking as a large-scale problem involving the eventual sale of drugs to multiple people and the transportation of drugs across borders. However, drug distribution results from a single sale of drugs and is therefore seen as less impactful.
Although weight is the primary factor that determines a drug trafficking charge, certain components may make it more likely you will receive trafficking charges as opposed to distribution, including:
You may have also heard of ‘intent to distribute.’ You can think of trafficking and intent to distribute as the same laws occurring on distinct levels. Usually, intent to distribute is less severe than drug trafficking, but they are both felony crimes. The main difference between drug trafficking and intent to distribute is the weight or of drugs involved in the case as well as the legality of the drug in question.
Larger quantities will likely result in trafficking charges rather than intent to distribute. As mentioned, the state of Tennessee sets relatively low limits for intent to sell or distribute but relies on federal statutes to set the threshold for trafficking charges. In general, if you are in possession of drugs over the individual limit without the obvious signs of trafficking, you may be charged with possession with intent to distribute in Tennessee even if you did not have plans to sell or distribute the drugs.
In Tennessee, driving while under the influence does not specify that alcohol must be the influencing substance. This means that if you use cocaine before driving and any amount of cocaine is found in your system, you can receive a DUI. Like alcohol-related DUI, you will be fined at least $1,500 for a first offense and will experience up to one year of driver's license revocation. A DUI charge can easily lead to another drug-related charge, including possession or trafficking if you are in possession of cocaine at the time of your arrest.
As with other DUI charges, contacting a Tennessee drug and alcohol attorney can significantly improve your chances at receiving a reduced charge and a shorter sentence.
When you are facing drug trafficking charges, your first step should be to contact a criminal defense attorney familiar with Tennessee and federal drug trafficking laws to help you build a strong defense. Trafficking charges are felonies that come with serious, life-altering consequences that can and will follow you for life. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and years in prison are just two of the potential repercussions you may face with a felony conviction.
Patrick McNally is an experienced criminal defense attorney with over 35 years of law experience. Well-versed in both federal and state drug laws, Attorney McNally can identify potential issues in the prosecution’s case, defend you against their claims, and fight for your right to a fair trial. To begin building your defense in your cocaine trafficking case, contact McNally Law online today.