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What are the penalties for federal drug offenses?

Drug offenses can be prosecuted at either the state or federal level. Louisiana readers may know that the level of drug charges depend on the type of drugs seized and the quantity. If the officers believe that you intend to distribute drugs, you may face more serious offenses, including drug trafficking. If you violated the federal Controlled Substances Act, you have to prepare a solid defense since consequences for such offenses can bring harsh penalties.

CSA imposes tough penalties to those accused of distributing drugs such as ecstasy, designer drugs, rave drugs, date rape drugs, methamphetamine, amphetamine, crack, cocaine, heroin and opiates under category Schedule I, II, III, IV and V. Unlawful distribution of heroin weighing 1 kilogram or more can lead to a 10 year prison sentence and $10 million to $50 million in fines. If the confiscated heroin weighs between 100 to 999 grams, the accused may be fined between $5 million and $25 million and jailed for 5 to 40 years. If the quantity of the drug is less than 100 grams, the accused can be jailed for a maximum of 20 years and fined between $1 million and $5 million.

If you were arrested for trafficking coca leaf and its derivatives weighing 5 kilograms or more, you may be sentenced to 10 years to life in prison and $10 million to $50 million in fines. If the drug weighs between 500 to 4,999 grams, you may be fined between $5 million and $25 million and sent to jail for a maximum of 40 years. For less than 500 grams of coca leaf and derivatives, you can be jailed for a maximum of 20 years and fined between $1 million and $5 million.

Defending oneself against federal drug charges can be difficult without legal assistance and each drug offense comes with unique penalties, which are often life-altering. To better understand your case, you may wish to speak with a criminal defense attorney who can study your case and determine which strategy should be employed.

Source: Drugscience.org, "Marijuana in Louisiana," Jon Gettman, June 19, 2009

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