What is the Difference Between Drug Trafficking & Dealing?
It is not uncommon for individuals to confuse or interchange the terms “drug dealing/distribution” and “drug trafficking. However, they are not the same charges and it is important to know the difference as they can carry significantly different penalties.
Drug trafficking is the illegal possession, manufacture, distribution, or transportation of a controlled substance. Drug dealing or distribution is the manufacture, distribution, transportation or possession with the intent to sell of a controlled substance. Yes, they sound very similar which makes sense that the two are often interchanged or misinterpreted. There are, however, two key differences between the two:
- The Amount or Quantity of Drugs in Possession
- Intent to Sell
The main difference between the two charges is the amount of the illegal substance that is in possession so we will cover that first.
The Quantity of Drugs in Possession
In order for an individual to be charged with drug trafficking rather than just distribution or possession with intent to sell, the amount of drugs in possession must meet a certain minimum threshold. The minimum quantity thresholds for trafficking charges in the state of Florida are:
- Cannabis: 25 pounds or 300 plants
- Cocaine: 28 grams
- Fentanyl: 4 grams
- GHB: 1 kilogram
- Hydrocodone: 14 grams
- Heroin: 4 grams
- LSD: 1 gram
- MDMA (Ecstasy): 10 grams
- Oxycodone: 7 grams
Again, the main difference between distribution and trafficking is the amount so the larger the quantity in possession the more likely of a trafficking charge. The above minimum quantities are also very similar to the charge of drug possession with the intent to sell which is another reason these two charges are often interchanged.
That brings us to the second point of “Intent to Sell” which can be another distinguishing factor.
Intent to Sell
Another main difference between drug distribution and trafficking is that to be charged with distribution the prosecutor must prove that you had intent to sell the illicit substance. For instance, the prosecutor could show that you intended to sell the drug because you were also in possession of scales, baggies, large amounts of cash, or other materials commonly associated with the distribution of drugs.
If they aren’t able to prove you intended to sell the drugs, you could simply be charged with illegal possession of a controlled substance – this is usually the case for individuals who possess a drug simply for personal use.
With a drug trafficking charge there is no need to prove intent to sell. If an individual is caught with the possession of illegal drugs and they meet the minimum quantity threshold – as listed above – then they could be charged with drug trafficking even if there is no proof of intent to sell or distribute the drugs.
Given the increased severity in penalties between a drug distribution charge and that of a trafficking charge, it’s important to understand the difference. It could also play a role in the defense. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative when facing a drug trafficking or distribution charge.
Get the Assistance You Need for Your Case in New Port Richey, Florida
If you’ve been charged with a drug related crime you should contact a criminal defense attorney for assistance. An experienced criminal defense attorney will put together the best defense possible in order to reduce or dismiss charges.