If you are swept up in a drug raid or traffic stop and charged with drug possession or distribution of drugs, you could be facing serious prison time. The charge of “drug possession with the intent to distribute” (PWID) can result in a felony conviction that exposes you to very serious – and mandatory – minimum sentences.
Most drug trafficking charges are felonies, which is why it is vitally important that you retain a well-qualified Virginia federal drug trafficking lawyer who has experience handling these kinds of charges in Virginia federal court.
In Virginia, drug trafficking charges cover the sale, importation, transportation, and distribution of illegal drugs. If you’re found guilty of selling prescription drugs, such as painkillers and narcotics, equally serious allegations of distribution and/or trafficking are also likely.
If you cross state lines to commit any of these offenses, you may be exposed to even more serious federal charges.
Other factors that can influence the type of charges you may face include the types of drugs involved, the amounts in your possession, and your past criminal history.
For a full and accurate explanation of these charges, government practices in prosecution, and how they apply to your case, contact a federal drug trafficking lawyer in Virginia at (703) 278-2800.
For marijuana, there are specific Virginia statutory guidelines for a distribution charge, such as:
• Not more than 1/2 oz. – misdemeanor – up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine
• Half an oz up to five lbs – felony – up to 10 years in prison
• More than five lbs – serious felony – up to 30 years in prison
There are many ways an “innocent possessor” can find themselves erroneously facing marijuana distribution charges. Let’s say you purchase slightly more than a half-ounce (14 grams) of pot for your own “recreational” use while on break at work.
You toss it into your glove box and, on the way home, swing by the ATM to withdraw a couple hundred dollars for a dinner date or night out with friends. Then let’s assume that while you are driving away from the bank, you are stopped by a police officer who discovers the baggie of pot and 10 crisp $20 bills in your wallet.
By law, you could be charged with possession with intent to distribute, and if convicted, you could face up to 10 years in prison. These are situations where it is crucial that you retain a top-notch federal criminal attorney who has handled drug trafficking charges in federal court.
Even a small amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance can produce a charge of intent to distribute. Local police can bring such charges based on the situation and other evidence collected at the scene: such as cash, baggies, packaging, scales, etc. The following are examples of the sort of penalties that await those convicted of such crimes.
• Schedule I: Drugs such as heroin, ecstasy, and LSD can result in penalties ranging from five to 10 years and up to $500,000 in fines. A second offense or an offense that results in a death can result in up to life in prison.
• Schedule II: Cocaine, morphine, and PCP bring the same penalties as Schedule I.
• Schedule III: Anabolic steroids, codeine, and hydrocodone and its derivatives – which includes those mixed with Tylenol3, Ketamine (special K), some barbiturates and other depressants — can result in a prison sentence of one to 10 years.
• Schedule IV: Many prescription drugs such as Darvon, Talwin, Equanil, Valium, Rohypnol (“roofies”), Xanax, and other tranquilizers are punishable by one to five years in prison.
Federal charges can be even more dangerous to your freedom. The US government’s “Drug Kingpin” statutes draw even more serious punishments. In particular, penalties can include 40 years to life if the criminal enterprise generates more than $10 million in any 12-month period of any of the following minimum quantities of:
• 100 grams or more of heroin
• 500 grams or more of cocaine
• At least 28 grams of cocaine base
• At least 5 grams of methamphetamine
Given the serious charges and consequences that exist in Virginia drug distribution and trafficking cases, those facing such charges will require the skills and dedication of an experienced Virginia federal drug trafficking attorney. That lawyer will draw upon their extensive legal knowledge, experience, and investigative acumen to fight for the best possible outcome. A variety of defenses should be explored based on the circumstances and facts of your case. These options can include:
• Possible constitutional violations: If police searched you unlawfully without a warrant or reasonable cause serious evidence against you could be suppressed.
• Were you entrapped? Law enforcement might tempt you to break the law when you had no intention of doing so. Often this happens if you get caught-up in a drug sweep or sting.
• Lack of control over the seized contraband.
Often, this is argued as “innocently being in the wrong place at the wrong time when others are charged with possession with intent-to-distribute.” In such cases, we can successfully argue that the drugs were not yours or you were not aware of their presence.
As we mentioned at the outset, early intervention by your attorney is the key. Therefore you should contact Karin Riley Porter Attorney at Law to determine your best course of action, and to begin mounting the strongest possible defense.
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