Drug trafficking is a serious offense that carries heavy penalties at both the state and federal level. However, not everyone realizes that simply possessing large, or even small, amounts of a controlled substance may be enough for the government to charge individuals with distribution, regardless of whether law enforcement catches them in the act of transporting across state lines.

Considered a first degree felony, a drug trafficking offense may result in penalties that range from several years’ imprisonment to fines of tens of thousands of dollars. Depending on the type and quantity of the drug involved, this type of conviction may also result in mandatory minimum prison sentencing.

What constitutes evidence of drug trafficking?

In order to prove that trafficking occurred, the prosecution must first show that the defendant was in possession of a controlled substance as defined by state and federal law. The prosecutor must also prove that the defendant had an intent to engage in drug trafficking, was aware of trafficking activities or knowingly participated in bringing drugs across state lines.

What are potential defenses against a trafficking charge?

Unlawful search and seizure and lack of intent to distribute are two common reasons for the dismissal or reduction of trafficking charges. Possession alone is not enough for a trafficking conviction, and burden rests on the prosecution to show that the defendant intended to sell the substance rather than to use it himself or herself.

It is also important that individuals are aware of their Fourth Amendment rights. If an officer obtains a controlled substance through an unlawful search, the prosecution may not be able to use that substance as evidence against the defendant.

Tough drug laws are meant to target dangerous criminals, but these same laws may also have devastating consequences for those who commit less serious offenses. Those facing trafficking charges should seek legal counsel as soon as possible in order to mount a robust defense.