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What is drug trafficking and what are the penalties?

As you may already know, any drug or specific substance that could be used as drug is always classified in a category, or schedule, that is used by the Justice Department. The schedule of the drug, ranging from one to five, correlates to the "drug's acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential," according to the Drug Enforcement Agency's website.

When it comes to drug charges, the Justice Department takes the schedule of the drug into consideration. The severity of the penalty generally increases based on the severity of the drug as well as the amount of drugs seized. This means that crimes involving Schedule V drugs often carry less severe penalties than crimes involving Schedule I drugs.

Let's see it applied to drug trafficking.

Drug trafficking, as you may know, is the importing, transporting and selling of unlawful controlled substances. Though state laws regarding drug trafficking can vary from state to state, one set of laws is relatively constant across all jurisdictions and they are federal laws.

Much like state laws, federal drug trafficking laws escalate in severity depending on the type of drug and amount that was moved. So while a first-time offense for trafficking a Schedule V drug may garner you no more than a year if convicted, a first-time offense for trafficking a Schedule I drug could mean five to 20 years depending on the amount.

Drug charges should always be taken seriously and it is always considered a good idea to obtain legal counsel when facing such charges. As you can imagine, there is a lot at stake if you get convicted, which is all the more reason to make sure that your rights are protected and that the facts of the case against you are accurate.

Source: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, "Federal Trafficking Penalties," Accessed Oct. 2, 2014

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