Drug trafficking is a very serious crime under both state and federal law. If you or a family member is convicted of drug trafficking in federal court, you could be subjected to serving decades in prison and paying massive monetary fines that could total hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
What Exactly is Drug Trafficking?
Under federal law, the legal definition of “drug trafficking” is extremely broad and encompasses the following actions:
- knowingly manufacturing illegal narcotics;
- knowingly dispensing illegal narcotics;
- knowingly distributing illegal narcotics; and/or
- knowingly possessing illegal narcotics with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense them
As you can see, given this broad definition, the act of “trafficking” constitutes virtually every drug crime on the books. This includes making, selling or transporting narcotics.
Trafficking Counterfeit Substances
In addition to trafficking narcotics, it is against the law to engage in the trafficking of counterfeit substances. This is prohibited under 21 U.S.C. § 841.
Important Exception for Federal Drug Trafficking
The only drug crime that “trafficking” does not include is the possession of narcotics for personal use. Under federal law, this is known as “simple possession.” Here is a good example to illustrate the distinction. Let’s say John Smith transports one hundred kilos of cocaine from Portland, Oregon to Las Vegas, Nevada. During the transport John Smith decides to sell an ounce of marijuana to Tom Jones for Tom’s own recreational use.
If the U.S. Marshals Service arrests both John Smith and Tom Jones, it is likely that John Smith would be charged with drug trafficking in federal court while Tom Jones would likely be charged for simple possession under federal drug laws. This is because Tom Jones did not manufacture, sell or dispense the cocaine and did not intend to do so.
Establishing Intent Necessary
It is important to understand that drug trafficking is a specific intent criminal offense. This means there needs to be compelling evidence sufficient to show beyond a reasonable doubt that someone intended to engage in drug trafficking. If such evidence does not exist, or is specious at best, the suspected drug trafficker should not be convicted of trafficking.
How Nevada Law is Different from Federal Law
In Nevada, drug trafficking constitutes the act of “simple possession” of drugs as long as the quantity exceeds a certain amount. For example, possessing four grams of heroin for personal use would still be considered drug trafficking, even if it was for personal use only. H
owever, if a suspect possessed less than four grams of heroin, they would instead be prosecuted for the Nevada version of simple possession.
Fighting Federal Drug Trafficking Charges
There are generally three strategies you can use to try and fight allegations of the federal drug trafficking. Those strategies include:
- Lack of evidence to convict a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt – In all federal criminal cases, the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s has the burden to demonstrate the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So if the defense attorney can show the court that the government’s evidence is not reliable or sufficient to justify a guilty verdict, the defendant should not be convicted of federal drug trafficking charges.
- No intent to traffic – If your defense attorney can persuade the court that you were honestly unaware that the drugs were at the location where you were arrested, then the criminal charges could be dropped.
- Illegal conduct or actions by law enforcement – If federal authorities conducted an illegal search in a federal drug trafficking case, then your Las Vegas criminal defense attorney could file a “Nevada motion to suppress evidence” asking the judge to throw out any evidence obtained from illegal police searches. If the judge grants the motion, there may be insufficient evidence remaining for the prosecution to proceed with the case.
Facing Federal Drug Trafficking Charges? Take Action Today by Contacting LV Criminal Defense
If you are facing federal charges for “trafficking drugs,” now is the time for action. Contact LV Criminal Defense to schedule a free case review. Federal drug crimes can come in many forms, and multiple charges might be brought against you for the same activity. However, in many cases, especially first time offenses, a reduced sentence can be negotiated.
Your experienced drug crimes defense lawyer in Nevada can help you understand the difference between the charges against you and what this means for negotiating lower sentences or getting the charges dismissed altogether.