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Your Guide to Illegal Drug Charges and Punishments

Posted on by Townsend Myers

5997920696_012c8c162e_oAs an attorney, I’m frequently asked questions about drug laws and drug charges, from punishment for possession to what constitutes trafficking. Here’s what you should know about different drug charges and punishments.


Possession charges vary by state depending on the drug and the amount, but it is a federal and state crime to be in possession of any illegal substance, from marijuana to cocaine. Charges may include either simple possession for small amounts, or possession with intent to distribute for large amounts. Possession with intent to distribute is associated with harsher penalties than simple possession.

Manufacturing & Delivery

Anyone involved in drug production can be hit with manufacturing charges. Manufacturing charges also apply when someone is caught delivering an illegal drug, be it methamphetamine or marijuana. Defense attorneys often take these cases because the burden of proof lies with the prosecution to prove that the defendant intended to manufacture the drug. Anyone convicted of manufacturing could face fines and prison time. In states that allow medical marijuana, defense procedures may be different, so brush up on your local laws.

Trafficking & Distribution

Similar to manufacturing, trafficking and distribution laws have made it illegal to sell or transport any controlled substance, from narcotics to cocaine. Charges for trafficking and distribution usually apply to drugs in large quantities. Anyone convicted of this felony can face several years to life in prison. The term “drug dealing” usually refers to the distribution of drugs by a single person on a smaller scale, like the sale of a small amount of marijuana. Defense attorneys don’t have an easy job just because it’s a small amount, however, and clients can still face up to five years in prison for this charge.

Charges by Drug

The possession charges for each type of drug vary depending on the amount of drug and whether or not it’s the first offense. For cocaine, charges for a first offense could be more than five years in jail. Anyone possessing heroin, LSD, PCP, or methamphetamine also faces this charge. For marijuana, defense attorneys could see their clients facing up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Please contact me if you have additional questions related to drug charges.



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