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Cocaine trafficking charges and the possible federal penalties

Cocaine is a Schedule II substance and as such, if you are found in possession with a certain amount of the drug, you could be facing federal trafficking charges and the penalties that go along with them. Federal drug charges are very serious and include mandatory sentences, even for first-time offenders.

The mandatory minimum sentence for a federal drug trafficking conviction depends on the type of substance, the amount of substance that was found in the defendant's possession and whether it was the defendant's first offense. If you are found with 28 to 279 grams of cocaine base or 500 to 4999 grams of cocaine in your possession and it is a first offense, the mandatory sentencing for a conviction is five years in prison. Defendants can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for a first offense, however, and 20 years is the mandatory minimum if the circumstances surrounding the charge resulted in serious bodily injury or death. A first offense can also carry a fine of up to $5 million.

If you are found guilty of possession of more than 279 grams of cocaine base or 4999 grams of cocaine, the mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years in prison for a first-time offense. If someone dies as a result, the minimum jumps to 20 years. The fine amount can also be up to $10 million. The penalties for second offenses increase accordingly, with prison sentences of a minimum of 10 or 20 years, and a conviction for a third offense means life imprisonment.

The Florida courts take every drug offense seriously, but when the charges are federal, the stakes are even higher. Even if this is your first drug offense, it is crucial to have adequate legal representation that can put forth a solid defense.

Source: Drug Enforcement Administration, "Federal Trafficking Penalties" accessed Mar. 12, 2015

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