Prosecutors take drug trafficking charges seriously in New Mexico. If you have been arrested and charged with this crime, you are facing serious drug trafficking penalties that will affect your entire life. However, you may be able to avoid the harshest consequences with the help of a drug trafficking attorney who knows the law and can build you a strong defense.
What is Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking, often called “drug distribution,” involves unlawfully manufacturing, transporting, selling, or importing illegal drugs. It may include controlled substances like narcotics and prescription drugs.
Drug trafficking is often related to a charge of drug possession. However, you are also being accused of knowingly or intentionally selling, transporting, or importing drugs or having the intent to sell or deliver drugs for commercial purposes.
If you are charged with drug possession but also have drug-related materials and tools, such as plastic baggies or scales, then your charges may be increased to drug trafficking.
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When Does Drug Trafficking Become a Federal Offense?
Felony drug trafficking charges may be brought under both state and federal laws. Federal drug charges typically arise when the sale, transportation, or distribution of an illegal substance takes place across state lines.
Many people think that drug trafficking involves professional criminals. However, anyone can be charged with drug trafficking under 21 U.S.C. § 841, which states that a person is guilty if they “knowingly or intentionally (1) manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance; or (2) create distribute or dispense, or possess with intent to distribute or dispense, a counterfeit substance.”
Technically, federal drug trafficking charges may be brought against someone who is in possession of a certain amount of controlled substance, even if it was not sold or distributed for commercial purposes.
Drug Trafficking Penalties
Drug trafficking is a serious crime in New Mexico, and the penalties can be severe. The penalties depend on the type of drug, the amount of the drug, and whether you have prior convictions. You will typically face years in prison and several thousand dollars in fines. You may also have to be on probation, go through a drug treatment program, and forfeit your assets.
Federal offenders may face even harsher penalties. The exact drug trafficking sentence for a federal conviction also depends on the type and amount of substance involved. It’s important to know that if the drug trafficking offense involves serious bodily injury or death, then you could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
A drug trafficking conviction can have many collateral consequences, which are restrictions or penalties that apply in addition to the criminal sentence. These consequences can have a significant impact on your life.
Here are some of the most common collateral consequences of a drug trafficking conviction:
The collateral consequences of a drug trafficking conviction can be a major barrier to reintegration and can make it difficult for individuals to lead productive lives.
Defending Against Drug Trafficking Charges
There are many legal defenses that can be used to challenge drug trafficking charges. The specific defenses that are available will vary depending on the facts of the case and the jurisdiction in which it is being prosecuted.
You may not have known that the substance you were trafficking was a controlled substance. For example, you may have been duped by someone else or may have mistakenly believed that the substance was legal.
You may have been induced by law enforcement to commit the crime. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement persuades or tricks an otherwise innocent person into committing a crime that they would not have committed otherwise.
If the evidence against you was obtained through an illegal search or seizure, it may be inadmissible in court. This means that the prosecution cannot use the evidence to prove its case, and the charges against you may be dismissed.
The chain of custody is the record of who handled the evidence from the time it was seized until it was tested in a lab. If there is a break in the chain of custody, it may cast doubt on the reliability of the evidence and weaken the prosecution’s case.
You may not have been in possession of the controlled substance. For example, the substance may have been planted on you by law enforcement, or you may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and mistakenly associated with the substance.
You may have made a mistake of fact that led you to commit the crime. For example, you may have been mistaken about the identity of the substance you were trafficking or the legality of your actions.
We Can Help You
A drug trafficking attorney can help you in many ways, including:
If you are charged with a drug crime like drug trafficking, it’s important to work closely with a drug trafficking defense attorney who understands relevant drug trafficking laws. The legal team at Harrison & Hart has experience helping first-time offenders as well as people who have been through the criminal justice system before.
From our office in Albuquerque, Harrison & Hart, LLC serves clients throughout New Mexico. We are focused on getting you the best outcome possible in the harshest of situations.