What is the penalty under federal law for first time offender drug trafficking?

Under federal law, a first-time conviction for trafficking any amount of a Schedule V drug is punishable by up to one year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

Email  |  Call (888) 600-8654

Have a quick question? I answered nearly 1500 FAQs.

What is the jail or prison time under federal law for first time offender drug trafficking?

A first-time conviction for trafficking any amount of a Schedule V drug is punishable by up to one year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine.

The federal government has gained a reputation for imposing penalties on individuals involved in drug-related offenses. Sometimes, even a minor possession charge in California can lead to years of imprisonment. Serious offenses like drug trafficking can result in harsher sentences and significant fines.

First-Time Offense for Small Quantity:

For first time offense of drug trafficking small quantities, you get jail or prison time minimum 5 years and maximum 40 years.  If death or serious injury from first offense for drug trafficking, not less than 20 or more than life. Fine of not more than $5 million if an individual, $25 million if not an individual.

  • Cocaine (Schedule II) 500–4999 grams mixture
  • Cocaine Base (Schedule II) 28–279 grams mixture
  • Fentanyl (Schedule II) 40–399 grams mixture
  • Fentanyl Analogue (Schedule I) 10–99 grams mixture
  • Heroin (Schedule I) 100–999 grams mixture
  • LSD (Schedule I) 1–9 grams mixture
  • Methamphetamine 5–49 grams pure or 50–499 grams mixture
  • PCP (Schedule II) 10–99 grams pure or 100–999 grams mixture

First Time Offense for High Quantity

For first time offense of drug trafficking large quantities, you get a minimum of 10 years in federal prison and maximum of life. If death or serious injury resulted from first time offense drug trafficking, not less than 20 or more than life. Fine of not more than $10 million if an individual, $50 million if not an individual

  • Cocaine (Schedule II) 5 kgs or more mixture
  • Cocaine Base (Schedule II) 280 grams or more Mixture
  • Fentanyl (Schedule II) 400 grams or more mixture
  • Fentanyl Analogue (Schedule I) 100 grams or more mixture
  • Heroin (Schedule I) 1 kg or more mixture
  • LSD (Schedule I) 10 grams or more mixture
  • Methamphetamine 50 grams or more pure or 500 grams or more mixture
  • PCP (Schedule II) 100 gm or more pure or 1 kg or more mixture

If you or someone you know is facing charges related to drug trafficking it is highly recommended to seek the assistance of a defense attorney. You can avoid jail time under federal trafficking penalties if you hire some of the best drug trafficking criminal defense lawyer to defend you in federal court.

What is Federal Drug Trafficking? – United States Code 21 Section 841

According to United States Code 21 Section 841, it is considered illegal to engage in the following activities:

  • Manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance.
  • Producing, distributing, dispensing or possessing with the intent to distribute or dispense a substance.
  • The term “controlled substance” includes substances ranging from marijuana and hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines to prescription medications such as Vicodin or Oxycontin.
  • A ” substance” refers to a controlled substance that bears the container or labeling of any manufacturer’s trademark without authorization.

Please read our article for drug smuggling under 21 USC 952.

What Must be Proven to Convict You of Federal Drug Trafficking?

Drug trafficking offenses are frequently observed in the United States involving activities like production, sale, manufacture, and transportation of drugs across state lines or international borders. To secure a conviction for drug trafficking charges prosecutors must establish elements. Prove that you knowingly and intentionally engaged in the manufacturing or distribution of controlled substances or counterfeit drugs.

It is important to note that lacking intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance can serve as a defense against drug trafficking charges. However, claiming that your intention was solely to produce or distribute a prescription drug with a valid prescription does not provide a defense. It is crucial to understand that under federal law controlled substances include those that can be legally possessed in quantities with a valid prescription but become illegal under other circumstances.

It’s worth mentioning that individuals have successfully defended themselves against drug trafficking charges in the past. It’s worth mentioning that individuals have successfully defended themselves against drug trafficking charges in the past.

What are the Defenses to a Federal Drug Trafficking Charge?

It is not uncommon for law enforcement officials to overstep their boundaries during operations. For instance, when illegal searches and seizures occur, it can render any collected evidence invalid. However, one used defense strategy in drug trafficking cases, is to negotiate for a charge of possession. Whether or not this option is feasible depends on the amount of the substance you were caught with. There are defense strategies used to combat charges related to drug trafficking, such, as:

  • Evidence that proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Unjustified arrest by law enforcement.
  • Police involvement in entrapment or reliance on paid informants.
  • Lack of intention to sell or distribute drugs.
  • Manipulation of evidence or planting drugs.
  • Genuine belief that the drugs were legal.

Federal cases involving drug trafficking can potentially lead to reduced charges, case dismissal, or acquittal through trial proceedings. Additionally, it may be possible to negotiate a sentence via a plea agreement by working with the prosecutor.

Therefore, if you find yourself facing charges for drug trafficking or smuggling, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t signify the end of your life. You have options to defend yourself and rebuild your life. The first step is understanding the nature of your situation.

Have a quick question? We answered nearly 2000 FAQs.

See all blogs: Business | Corporate | Employment Law

Most recent blogs:

What Does Larceny Mean?

Larceny is a legal term for theft, referring to the act of unlawfully taking property from someone without their consent. It's classified based on the property's value, with distinctions like petty or grand larceny. This crime carries varying penalties, including fines and possible jail time, depending on the severity of the theft.

How to Handle and Beat DUI Cases

To handle DUI cases well, attorneys should have fast interactions with the DMV to protect their clients’ rights protecting evidence and courtroom dynamics for strategic negotiation. A successful defense also includes the creation of records to reduce penalties, consistent communication with customers, and readiness for negotiation or proceeding to the trial while demonstrating sympathy and perseverance.

How Drug Charges and Criminal Sentencing Operate

This article explores the legal intricacies of drug offenses in the United States, focusing on both federal and California state laws. It highlights the differences in charges and penalties for various drug-related crimes, including trafficking and possession, and discusses legal strategies for reducing or dismissing these charges.

List of Drug Charges and Sentences For Federal Offense

This article provides a comprehensive guide to drug charges and penalties in the U.S., emphasizing the severe consequences for first-time offenders in drug trafficking. It highlights the importance of understanding federal laws and the role of specialized attorneys in navigating drug-related legal complexities.

San Diego White Collar Crime Lawyer

Former prosecutor San Diego White Collar Crime Lawyer Tom Rist handles complex fraud and financial crime charges in federal and state court.

What Amount of Drugs Is Considered Trafficking?

A person will face drug trafficking charges if arrested with 100 or more grams of heroin, 500 or more grams of powdered cocaine, 5 or more grams of crack cocaine, or 1 or more grams of LSD.

How To Get Drug Possession Charges Dropped in California

You can get your drug possession charge dropped in California. A valid defense to have drug charges dismissed includes proof of legal possession or entering a drug diversion program, which is commonly used for simple possession charges.

How To Get a Drug Trafficking Charge Dismissed

To begin the process of dismissing a drug trafficking charge, it's crucial to consult with a seasoned drug crime attorney. Your lawyer can explore various defense strategies based on your case's specific details, including entrapment, lack of sufficient evidence, or violations of constitutional rights.

How serious is drug trafficking?

Drug trafficking is considered a very serious offense and incurs stricter penalties compared to drug possession. This crime is illegal under both federal and state legislation, and typically, it is prosecuted at the federal level when the accused is involved in transporting drugs across state boundaries.

What is the minimum sentence for drug trafficking in the US?

For the first offense, the sentence ranges from a minimum of 5 years to a maximum of 40 years; however, if there is death or serious injury involved, the sentence increases to a minimum of 20 years, potentially extending to life imprisonment. The fine imposed can be up to $5 million for individuals or up to $25 million for entities other than individuals. For a second offense, the imprisonment term is at least 10 years and can extend to a life sentence.

Federal vs. State Drug Crimes

People in California charged with possession of a controlled substance, carrying less severe penalties, while federal drug crimes typically involve more serious offenses like trafficking, which have significantly harsher jail or prison time.

What is reckless driving?

Reckless driving is intentional disregard for traffic laws and intentional disregard for the safety of others.

What is a 11352 HS charge?

Under Health & Safety Code 11352 HS, transporting or selling of controlled substances is a felony in California law.

Drug Defense Attorney in San Diego

Former prosecutor, Tom Rist, is San Diego drug crimes lawyer, has a track record of getting cases dismissed or reduced to a lower offense. Tom Rist is an experienced drug defense attorney can help you fight to protect your future. 

Drug Possession Lawyer in San Diego

If you or a family member is facing drug crime or drug possession charges in San Diego County, contact Nakase Law Office for a free consultation and legal options.

Drug Trafficking Attorney

An experienced and skilled criminal defense team can help your charges to be dismissed or lowered significantly. Former prosecutor, Tom Rist, has 17 years experience as a drug trafficking defense attorney.

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Diego

San Diego criminal defense lawyer near you, handling all crimes, including drug trafficking, drug possession, drug crimes, and more. Thomas Rist was a prosecutor with 17 years of experience as a drug crime lawyer. Call our criminal law firm for a free consultation at (888) 600-8654.

What is 21 USC 952? Drug Smuggling

A person charged with 21 USC 952 for smuggling meth, cocaine, heroin, or marijuana may have have no prison time or up to life in prison, depending on the quantity of the illegal drug.

Contact our attorney.

Please tell us your story:

1 + 2 = ?