Drug possession cases comprise a large part of our practice. We have handled cases from the misdemeanor level all the way up to first degree felonies in State Court, as well as multi-count conspiracies in Federal Court. The classification of drug offenses is generally determined by the amount of drugs involved and whether the offense involves simple possession or manufacturing or distribution. Oftentimes manufacturing and distribution are alleged in cases involving an amount that exceeds that which is commonly associated with personal use. When cases are prosecuted that involve large amounts and multiple defendants, those cases are oftentimes referred to federal prosecutors because they are generally more adept at using the federal conspiracy statutes and because penalty ranges in Federal Court are typically more severe.
When used in the context of drug offenses, the word “traffic” means to transport, transfer, or otherwise dispose of drugs, to another, for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or to make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess drugs, with the intent to transport, transfer, or otherwise dispose of the drugs. Translated into readable English, it means that if you move drugs, and you do it for any kind of financial gain, including money, you are “trafficking” in drugs. The penalties for such offenses are usually determined by the quantity of drugs involved and the term usually implies significant quantities of drugs. The greater the quantity, the more onerous the penalty.
Where a drug trafficking element can really become serious is if it is done in connection with another offense, such as the illegal possession of a weapon. In the Federal system, when a weapon is possessed in connection with a drug trafficking offense, the penalty assessed for the weapon is served consecutive to the penalty for the drug trafficking offense rather than concurrently.