Understanding Drug Trafficking Charges

Posted on in Criminal Defense

drug crimes, federal prosecution, Illinois Defense LawyerWith many states around the country beginning to loosen their statutes regarding the medicinal or recreational use of marijuana, both remain illegal and subject to prosecution in the state of Illinois. The penalties for a marijuana conviction in Illinois range from a slap on the wrist to years in prison, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime. While simple possession carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail, a trafficking conviction may result in a 30 year prison sentence. Trafficking charges are further complicated by the fact that they may bring you within federal jurisdiction, facing imprisonment in a federal prison. For this reason, trafficking charges should be handled with a comprehensive and aggressive defense.

What is Drug Trafficking?

Transporting a large quantity of illegal drugs for the purpose of selling, distributing or delivering is referred to as drug trafficking. The term generally conjures thoughts of highly organized drug cartels, using ships and airplanes to traffic drugs into the United States. While these circumstances do meet the definition, most trafficking cases are far less dramatic and involve individuals who probably don't even consider themselves traffickers.

The FBI reported about an Illinois woman who was recently sentenced to 80 months in federal prison on drug trafficking charges. Her role in the plan was to rent an apartment and vehicles for the purpose of allowing other participants to transport and store heroin. While this may seem like a small part to play, it was enough to bring about a drug trafficking conviction in federal court.

One element that can push a charge from drug distribution to drug trafficking is the amount of drugs involved. If law enforcement concludes that the amount of drugs exceeds an amount that would generally suggest distribution, they may push for the more serious trafficking charge. This amount can vary depending on the type of drug involved.

Another necessary element for a drug trafficking conviction in Illinois is the transport of the drugs into the state. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knowingly transported the substance into the state with the goal of delivering it or having it delivered to another location. This movement between states is what triggers federal drug trafficking charges, which subjects the accused to potentially longer and more severe penalties.

Defending Trafficking Charges

An experienced attorney may employ numerous strategies in defense of drug trafficking charges, including:

  • Challenging the knowledge requirement by presenting evidence that the accused did not know:
      • that an illegal substance was being transported;
      • that the transportation was for the intent of delivery; and
      • the actual amount of the substance transported;
  • Presenting evidence that the accused acted under duress; and
  • Presenting evidence that the actions of law enforcement entrapped the accused.
When searching for a defense attorney to assist you with your drug trafficking charges, it is important to secure the services of an attorney who is experienced in state and federal court. If you or a loved one is facing federal or state drug trafficking charges, allow criminal defense attorney Hal M. Garfinkel to provide you with a vigorous defense. Contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney today at 312-629-0669 for a free consultation.
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