Drug distribution is a crime that involves the manufacturing, sales, distribution, possession with intent to distribute or sell, and smuggling of controlled substances. The crime of drug distribution does not include the crime of possessing controlled substances; unless it is proven that the defendant intended to sell or distribute those drugs. The laws regarding drug distribution offenses are serious and many pundits argue that the penalties for drug distribution are far too harsh.
Every state and the federal government have laws against the manufacturing, use, and possession of illegal drugs. These laws aim to reduce unlawful consumption and abuse of controlled substances, decrease drug-related crimes, and severely punish repeat offenders and "big-time" drug dealers. The federal government is particularly, some argue unjustly, hard on drug distribution offenders.
The federal government has enacted a number of incredibly stringent laws regarding drug offenses. Drug distribution and possession offenders are subject to mandatory minimum sentencing requirements (state sentencing is modeled after these federal schedules). This means if a person is convicted of a drug distribution offense they will be automatically given a predetermined incarceration sentence. In practice, these mandatory minimum laws have put thousands of non-violent drug offenders behind bars for years longer than violent and dangerous criminals are incarcerated. The average length of incarceration for a first time offender is between one and three years, which is greater than the punishment many violent and truly dangerous criminals receive. Many argue that this is an outrageous injustice in our criminal system.
According to government estimates, more than half of all federal prisoners are drug distribution or drug-related offenders. Approximately three percent of all these offenders are violent offenders which might pose a threat to public safety if released. Drug distribution statistics also reveal that violent offenders are required to serve less of their prison term compared to drug offenders. Violent offenders serve an average of 54 percent of their sentence, whereas drug distribution and other offenders must serve at least 85 percent of their prison term. These harsh consequences for non-violent drug offenses have been castigated by critics who argue that these laws are unjust and do not achieve their intended objectives.
The crime of drug distribution is considered the most serious of all drug offenses. The punishment for drug distribution will depend on the type and quantity of the controlled substance and the nature of the drug distribution. The penalties for drug distribution will be enhanced if the drugs are sold to or distributed by minors or the drugs are handled in a school zone or other protected area. It is difficult to determine in advance the exact penalty that a drug distribution offender might face. It is extremely rare for an offender to get off lightly, especially without the help of a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney. A legal professional can evaluate your case to determine the best way to protect and maximize your rights in a drug distribution case.
For a free consultation with LA Attorney Avi Zvulun, call 818.720.5288 or 888.333.2636 Toll Free or contact us online.