The criminal justice system in America has many moving parts. Often, this can lead to confusion over the specifics of criminal offenses.
A prime example of this lies with the distinction between drug distribution and trafficking. Understanding the difference between the two may be in your best interests.
Defining drug distribution
The law in Florida defines drug distribution as the selling, importing, or moving of a controlled substance. Notable controlled substances include cocaine and heroin. Crucially, a person does not need to be caught in the act of selling drugs to face distribution charges. Merely having copious amounts of cash and illicit substances could be enough to warrant charges for distribution.
Defining drug trafficking
The critical distinction between trafficking and distribution revolves around the weight and quantity of the drugs involved. For a trafficking charge, the drugs do not necessarily need to be in transit.
How do the penalties for distribution and trafficking differ?
Again, the penalties involved in distribution or trafficking charges will depend heavily on the quantity of drugs involved. Furthermore, reduction to sentences may be applicable where the defendant is under the age of 21, or if they provide substantial assistance to the prosecution.
Penalties for distribution
Drug distribution with an intent to sell may be classified as a third-degree felony which can result in a prison term of up to five years as well as a $5,000 fine. Furthermore, a more serious distribution offense could be classified as a second-degree felony which means a potential prison sentence up to 15 years and a fine of up to $15,000.
Penalties for trafficking
The severity of sentencing will depend on the substances involved as well as their quantities. Trafficking illegal substances can carry minimum prison terms ranging from three to 25 years. Additionally, fines can be between $50,000 and $500,000.
Knowing the difference between distribution and trafficking is in your best interests and could help ensure the best possible outcome in your case. Furthermore, it is essential to know your legal rights if faced with such charges.