Yes, it is.
Drug trafficking is both a state and a federal offense. It is classified as a felony and is a more severe crime with harsher consequences than drug possession in Georgia.
Also known as drug distribution, drug trafficking is the crime of selling or illegally transporting controlled substances, such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other forms of illegal drugs. It also applies to the illicit distribution of prescription medicine, often involving pharmaceutical opiates and hydrocodone products.
Anybody caught in possession of drugs may face drug distribution charges if the police find enough reason to believe that he or she intends to sell them. This is usually the case with people found with a substantial quantity of controlled substances and/or cash during the arrest.
When does drug trafficking become a federal offense?
Most drug-related arrests are carried out by local law enforcement agencies. Usually, it is the state that maintains jurisdiction, and these cases are tried in the state court. Most of the time, drug trafficking only becomes a federal offense when the following factors are involved:
- Possession of large quantities of controlled substances
- The arrest is made by a federal officer
- Transport of illegal drugs from one jurisdiction to another
- Large sums of money or money laundering
- Linked death cases outside the jurisdiction of the state
- Medicare fraud and widescale illegal prescription
A large percentage of federal drug charges are due to arrests made by a federal officer, whether it’s the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or national park police. There are also plenty of cases where people were charged with a federal drug crime through identification by a 3rd party. Some people facing drug charges pass on information to the authorities in for possible leniency.
Whether the drug trafficking case is sorted into the state or federal system, however, often depends on the decision of the investigating agency or the prosecuting lawyer. The choice of the system matters immensely because there is a huge gap between state and federal sentencing. The federal criminal system has stricter and harsher mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related charges.
What are the possible charges for a federal drug trafficking offense?
Manufacture, distribution, dispense, or possession of controlled substances is prohibited by the federal government. Drug trafficking offenses on the federal level are triggered when the defendant is found with more than the specified amount for a drug possession charge. Anybody found in violation will be subjected to sentencing based on the quantity of the prohibited substance in their possession.
For example, a person found in possession of 100 grams of heroin, 5 kg or cocaine may be imprisoned for 5 to 40 years. For 1 kg of heroin, 5 kg of cocaine, or 1000 kg of marijuana, the defendant may face ten years to life in prison.
The prison sentences increase with the number of illegal substances. The penalty charges can be worse for those with prior convictions or if the case involves death or bodily injury. Prison term enhancements are also applicable to those in possession of firearms. This means that the convicted will have to serve separate prison terms for drug trafficking and firearm offenses.
It’s also a possibility that someone convicted of drug trafficking could also face a civil lawsuit if there was a bodily injury, such as death to the consumer. Wrongful death lawsuits in Atlanta are mostly centered around other issues, but dealing in dangerous substances certainly leaves the prospect of a civil suite open.
In the case of federal drug charges
Drug trafficking is one of the more serious criminal offenses a person can commit, whether on a state or federal level. Drug crime often comes with steep penalties and prison sentences, which can alter the course of somebody’s life enormously.
If you, or someone you know and care about, is facing charges for a federal drug crime, the first thing you need to do is find a skilled and reliable drug crime attorney.
An experienced drug trafficking lawyer can give you proper counsel in terms of possible plea negotiations. Anybody charged with drug trafficking should never make decisions or speak to authorities without the presence of a criminal defense lawyer.