What Is the Difference Between Trafficking And Possession?

Drug trafficking includes the production, distribution, and sale of illegal substances like cocaine, LSD, PCP, heroin, and marijuana. In contrast, drug possession is being arrested these illegal drugs in one’s possession.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Drug Trafficking vs Drug Possession

There are differences between drug trafficking and drug possession as they encompass types of drug offenses. Drug trafficking typically refers to the organized production, distribution and sale of substances on a scale. This type of offense has an impact and is considered more severe, resulting in harsher legal consequences such as longer prison sentences and higher fines, particularly when crossing state or international borders. On the other hand, drug possession involves having a quantity of illegal drugs for personal use and generally attracts less severe penalties. In drug possession cases, options for rehabilitation or probation may be offered for first-time offenders. This reflects a focus on consumption rather than the distribution aspect.

Aspect Drug Trafficking Drug Possession
Definition Involves the production, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs on a large scale. Refers to having a smaller amount of illegal drugs for personal use.
Legal Consequences Severe penalties including lengthy prison sentences, substantial fines, and potential federal charges. Generally less severe penalties, options for rehabilitation, probation, and sometimes diversion programs.
Jail Time Typically longer prison terms; can range from several years to life imprisonment, depending on the case. Often shorter sentences, which may include no jail time for first offenses or small quantities.
Fines Large fines, often running into thousands or millions of dollars. Fines are usually lower, proportional to the severity of the possession charge.
Scope of Offense Indicates involvement in a wider drug distribution network or operation. Usually involves individual usage with no intent to distribute.
Impact on Society Considered more detrimental due to contribution to the drug trade and potential connection to organized crime. Viewed as a public health issue, especially in cases of addiction.
Prosecution Level Often prosecuted under federal law, especially if crossing state or international borders. Mostly handled at the state level unless involving large amounts or other aggravating factors.
Focus of Punishment Focus on deterrence and disruption of drug trafficking operations. Focus on rehabilitation, particularly for first-time or non-violent offenders.

Both drug trafficking and drug possession are illegal under the Controlled Substance Act. Regardless, if you are someone you love has been charged with drug related offenses, it is important to contact a drug possession defense attorney or drug trafficking defense attorney for help.

Drug trafficking and drug possession represent categories of drug-related crimes that differ in their nature and severity.

  1. Drug Trafficking:
  • Definition: Drug trafficking involves the production, distribution, sale, and transportation of drugs with the intent to distribute them on a larger scale.
  • Scope: Trafficking often implies participation in a network or operation that contributes to the drug trade. It can encompass activities such as manufacturing drugs, transporting them across regions or countries, and selling them to distributors or end users.
  • Legal consequences: The consequences of engaging in drug trafficking are often more severe, due to the quantities of drugs involved and the potential harm it can cause to society. Those convicted of drug trafficking can face prison sentences, hefty fines, and even federal charges, especially if the trafficking occurs across state or international borders.
  1. Drug Possession
  • Definition: On the other hand, drug possession refers to having drugs in one’s possession, whether it be in one person, in their living space, or under one’s control.
  • Scope: Typically, possession involves amounts of drugs. Does not involve distribution or large-scale sales. The intention behind possession is generally for use rather than for distribution purposes.
  • Legal Consequences: The legal consequences for drug possession are usually less severe compared to those for trafficking. It can vary depending on factors such as the type and quantity of drugs involved, the jurisdiction in which the offense occurred, and the individual’s prior criminal record. In cases, particularly when dealing with amounts or first-time offenses, there may be a greater focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. This could involve options like diversion programs or probation being made available.

In summary, drug trafficking is considered an offense as it relates to the supply chain and distribution network of drugs. On the other hand, drug possession usually pertains to use and typically involves smaller quantities of drugs.

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