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Drug trafficking has stiff penalties

Drug trafficking penalties can be harsh, even for first time offenses. The penalties for drug trafficking will depend on the type of drug and the amount of drugs you were charged with. Drugs are classified into Schedule I through Schedule IV.

The schedules are prioritized by their potential for abuse, with Schedule I having the highest potential. Examples of Schedule I drugs include marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines. Schedule II drugs are controlled substances such as hydrocodone, percocet and other prescription drugs. Schedule III includes controlled substances that have a less potential for abuse than Schedule II drugs and the potential for abuse lessens even more with Schedule IV and V substances.

The penalties associated with trafficking these drugs is based on the type of drug (schedule), the amount of drugs in question and whether it is your first offense, second offense or more. For instance, marijuana is a Schedule I substance. Penalties for less than 50 kilograms or less than 50 plants, and a first offense carries not more than five years jail time and less than $250,000 in fines for an individual. A second offense would carry not more than 10 years and $500,000 in fines.

These penalties increase with the amount of drugs you are charged with. For example, if you are charged with 100 to 999 kilograms of marijuana, the penalty for a first offense is not "less" than five years or more than 40, and a second offense is not less than 10 years or more than life in prison. Fines can be as high as $5 million for a first offense.

If you have been charged with drug trafficking, the consequences of your arrest are often an important part in your defense. In Florida, police and authorities work hard to get drugs out of the mainline. They may use tactics such as entrapment or illegal searches on anyone who is suspect. This may be an important factor for your legal defense if they can show that evidence was obtained illegally. Your attorney has numerous ways to try to combat the charges and help to keep penalties reduced as much as possible.

Source: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, "Federal Trafficking Penalties," accessed Sep. 11, 2015

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